from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A sequence of words intended to have meaning.
  • n. A characteristic way or mode of expression.
  • n. A brief, apt, and cogent expression.
  • n. A word or group of words read or spoken as a unit and separated by pauses or other junctures.
  • n. Grammar Two or more words in sequence that form a syntactic unit that is less than a complete sentence.
  • n. Music A short passage or segment, often consisting of four measures or forming part of a larger unit.
  • n. A series of dance movements forming a unit in a choreographic pattern.
  • transitive v. To express orally or in writing: The speaker phrased several opinions.
  • transitive v. To pace or mark off (something read aloud or spoken) by pauses.
  • transitive v. Music To divide (a passage) into phrases.
  • transitive v. Music To combine (notes) in a phrase.
  • intransitive v. To make or render phrases, as in reading aloud.
  • intransitive v. Music To perform a passage with the correct phrasing.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A short written or spoken expression.
  • n. A word or group of words that functions as a single unit in the syntax of a sentence, usually consisting of a head, or central word, and elaborating words.
  • n. A small section of music in a larger piece.
  • v. (music) To perform a passage with the correct phrasing.
  • v. To express (an action, thought or idea) by means of words.
  • v. (music) To divide into melodic phrases.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A brief expression, sometimes a single word, but usually two or more words forming an expression by themselves, or being a portion of a sentence.
  • n. A short, pithy expression; especially, one which is often employed; a peculiar or idiomatic turn of speech.
  • n. A mode or form of speech; the manner or style in which any one expreses himself; diction; expression.
  • n. A short clause or portion of a period.
  • intransitive v. To use proper or fine phrases.
  • intransitive v. To group notes into phrases. See Phrase, n., 4.
  • transitive v. To express in words, or in peculiar words; to call; to style.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To employ peculiar phrases or forms of speech; ex press one's self.
  • In music, to divide a piece in performance into short sections or phrases, so as to bring out the metrical and harmonic form of the whole, and make it musically intelligible; also, to perform any group of tones without pause.
  • To express or designate by a particular phrase or term; call; style.
  • n. A brief expression; more specifically, two or more words expressing what is practically a single notion, and thus performing the office of a single part of speech, or entering with a certain degree of unity into the structure of a sentence.
  • n. A peculiar or characteristic expression; a mode of expression peculiar to a language; an idiom.
  • n. The manner or style in which a person ex presses himself; diction; phraseology; language; also, an expression, or a form of expression.
  • n. In music, a short and somewhat independent division or part of a piece, less complete than a period, and usually closing with a cadence or a half-cadence.
  • n. In fencing, a period between the beginning and end of a short passage at arms between fencers during which there is no pause, each fencer thrusting and parrying in turn
  • n. See the adjectives.
  • n. Synonyms See term.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. dance movements that are linked in a single choreographic sequence
  • n. an expression consisting of one or more words forming a grammatical constituent of a sentence
  • n. an expression whose meanings cannot be inferred from the meanings of the words that make it up
  • v. put into words or an expression
  • v. divide, combine, or mark into phrases
  • n. a short musical passage


Latin phrasis, diction, from Greek, speech, diction, phrase, from phrazein, to point out, show; see gwhren- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Late Latin phrasis ("diction"), from Ancient Greek φράσις (phrasis, "manner of expression"), from φράζω (phrazō, "I tell, express"). (Wiktionary)


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