American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. The use of standard marks and signs in writing and printing to separate words into sentences, clauses, and phrases in order to clarify meaning.
- n. The marks so used.
- n. The act or an instance of punctuating.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In writing and printing, a pointing off or separation of one part from another by arbitrary marks; specifically, the division of a composition into sentences and parts of sentences by the use of marks indicating intended differences of effect by differences of form. The points used for punctuation exclusively are the period or full-stop, the colon, the semicolon, and the comma. (See
point, n., 11 .) The interrogation- and exclamation-points serve also for punctuation in the place of one or another of these, while having a special rhetorical effect of their own; and the dash is also used, either alone or in conjunction with one of the preceding marks, in some cases where the sense or the nature of the pause required can thereby be more clearly indicated. (See parenthesis.) The modern system of punctuation was gradually developed after the introduction of printing, primarily through the efforts of Aldus Manutius and his family. In ancient writing the words were at first run together continuously; afterward they were separated by spaces, and sometimes by dots or other marks, which were made to serve some of the purposes of modern punctuation, and were retained in early printing. Long after the use of the present points became established, they were so indiscriminately employed that, if closely followed, they are often a hindrance rather than an aid in reading and understanding the text. There is still much uncertainty and arbitrariness in punctuation, but its chief office is now generally understood to be that of facilitating a clear comprehension of the sense. Close punctuation, characterized especially by the use of many commas, was common in English in the eighteenth century, and is the rule in present French usage: but open punctuation, characterized by the avoidance of all pointing not clearly required by the construction, now prevails in the best English usage. In some cases, as in certain legal papers, title-pages, etc., punctuation is wholly omitted.
- n. In zoology, the punctures of a punctate surface.
- n. A set of symbols and marks which are used to clarify meaning in text by separating strings of words into clauses, phrases and sentences.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. (Gram.) The act or art of punctuating or pointing a writing or discourse; the art or mode of dividing literary composition into sentences, and members of a sentence, by means of points, so as to elucidate the author's meaning.
- n. the use of certain marks to clarify meaning of written material by grouping words grammatically into sentences and clauses and phrases
- n. something that makes repeated and regular interruptions or divisions
- n. the marks used to clarify meaning by indicating separation of words into sentences and clauses and phrases
- From Medieval Latin punctuatio ("a marking with points, a writing, agreement"), from punctuare ("to mark with points, settle"); see punctuate. (Wiktionary)
“Now,. most people could figure that out,. still my punctuation is as you say not perfect.”
“On this Mr. Everett remarks, "now the points, commonly so called, have nothing to do with the division of a sentence into its members, or with what we call punctuation; but Mr. English intended to intimate, that according to the accents, the verse should be divided as he proposes." (p. 110, of Mr. Everett's work.)”
“The system of pointing ( "punctuation" derives from the Latin word punctus ` point ') is too valuable.”
“Latto: In “Our Forgotten Constitution: A Bicentennial Comment,” 97 Yale L.J. 281 (1987), Akhil Amar shows that the printed copy of the Constitution that was distributed to the states for ratification, differed in punctuation, spelling and capitalization from the engrossed (handwritten) parchment signed by the delegates to the Convention in Philadelphia, which is the version now enshrined in the National Archives.”
“In “Our Forgotten Constitution: A Bicentennial Comment,” 97 Yale L.J. 281 (1987), Akhil Amar shows that the printed copy of the Constitution that was distributed to the states for ratification, differed in punctuation, spelling and capitalization from the engrossed (handwritten) parchment signed by the delegates to the Convention in Philadelphia, which is the version now enshrined in the National Archives.”
“See if they'll throw in punctuation for dummies while you're at it.”
“Watkins says that fashions in punctuation change rapidly.”
“Always end a sentence in punctuation of some sort.”
“Remember, punctuation is always at the end of the dialogue and on the inside of the quotes.”
“Thinking you can write well without knowing the rules of punctuation is like an architect thinking he can design a building without knowing the principles of physics and engineering.”
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