This experimental study investigates the connotative (measured) meaning of the concept “auditor independence” within three audit engagement case contexts, including two acknowledged in the literature to represent significant potential threats to independence. The study’s research design utilises the measurement of meaning (semantic differential) framework originally proposed by Osgood et al. (1957). Findings indicate that research participants considered the concept of independence within a two factor cognitive structure comprising “emphasis” and “variability” dimensions. Participants’ connotations of independence varied along both these dimensions in response to the alternative experimental case scenarios. In addition, participants’ perceptions of the auditor’s independence in the three cases were systematically associated with the identified connotative meaning dimensions.