From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Intension (or "connotation") refers to the meaning or characteristics encompassed by a given word, often expressed by a definition.
Intension is often discussed with regard to extension. Intension refers to the set of all possible things which a word could describe. By contrast, extension (or denotation) refers to the set of all actual things which the word actually describes. For example, the intension of 'car' is all possible cars (including mile-high cars made of chocolate). But the extension of 'car' is all actual cars (past, present and future), which will amount to millions or billions of cars, but probably doesn't include any mile-high cars made of chocolate.
Intension is an essential part of meaning. The meaning of a word (for example) is the bond between the idea or thing the word is intended to describe and the word itself. The intension provides the directions by which objects (the extension) and ideas are identified. Without some understanding of the intension, words could have no meaning.
Intension and intensionality (the state of having intension) should not be confused with intention and intentionality, which are pronounced the same and occasionally arise in the same philosophical context. Where this happens, the letter 's' or 't' is sometimes italicized to emphasize the distinction.
Henri (who doesn't even have a credit card)
• connotation •
Pronunciation: kah-nê-tey-shên • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A connotation is not the exact meaning (= denotation) but a vague implication, semantic associations of a word or phrase. For example, the denotation of caviar is simply "sturgeon eggs" but it connotes wealth and indulgence.
Notes: This good word is the noun from the verb to connote; the adjective is connotative, as the connotative significance of a remark. An implication of a statement is a meaning directly and inevitably bound to it, as smoke implies fire. A connotation is a vaguer association, as wearing furs connotes wealth, even though the furs may have come from hard work and saving or working on a mink farm.
In Play: A word's connotation is more interesting than its denotation. The connotation of, "Dwight Mann accused Frances of being a card-carrying member of the ACLU," is that Frances is a communist and the ACLU is a communist organization. That is because "card-carrying" is associated with the phrase "card-carrying communist", prominent in the witch hunt for communists during the McCarthy Era in the US. Even the verb accused in the above sentence connotes that whatever Frances was doing is bad. Avoid guilt by connotation.
Word History: Today's Good Word derives from Medieval Latin connotare "to mark with" from con "with" + notare "to mark" (from nota "mark"). The root of notare started out its life as Proto-Indo-European *gno- "know", which came down to English as know. In some of its variants a vowel was inserted between the two consonants at the beginning of this root. One of these variants became English cunning from Old English cunnan "to know how to". Now that you know more about connotation, you can be more cunning in exploiting its semantic riches and avoiding its misuse.