from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In grammar, the omission of one or more letters in a word.
  • noun In writing and printing, the sign (') used to indicate such omission.
  • noun The sign (') used for other purposes, especially, single or double, as a concluding mark of quotation, as in “‘Well done,' said he.” See quotation-mark.
  • noun In rhetoric, a digressive address; the interruption of the course of a speech or writing, in order to address briefly a person or persons (present or absent, real or imaginary) individually or separately; hence, any abrupt interjectional speech. Originally the term was applied only to such an address made to one present.
  • noun In botany, the arrangement of chlorophyl-granules under the action of direct sunlight (light-apostrophe), and in darkness (dark-apostrophe): in the first case upon the lateral walls of the cells, so that their edges are presented to the light; in the latter, upon the lateral and basal cell-walls: used in distinction from epistrophe (which see).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Rhet.) A figure of speech by which the orator or writer suddenly breaks off from the previous method of his discourse, and addresses, in the second person, some person or thing, absent or present.”
  • noun (Gram.) The contraction of a word by the omission of a letter or letters, which omission is marked by the character ['] placed where the letter or letters would have been.
  • noun The mark ['] used to denote that a word is contracted (as in ne'er for never, can't for can not), and as a sign of the possessive, singular and plural; as, a boy's hat, boys' hats. In the latter use it originally marked the omission of the letter e.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun orthography The text character , that serves as a punctuation mark in various languages and as a diacrictical mark in certain rare contexts.
  • noun rhetoric A sudden exclamatory piece of dialogue addressed to someone or something, especially absent.

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

  • noun address to an absent or imaginary person
  • noun the mark (') used to indicate the omission of one or more letters from a printed word


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin apostrophe, from Ancient Greek ἀποστροφή, from ἀποστρέφω ("I turn away"), from ἀπό + στρέφω ("I turn").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French apostrophe, or Latin apostrophus, from Ancient Greek ἀπόστροφος (apostrophos, "accent of elision"), a noun use of an adjective from ἀποστρέφω (apostrephō, "I turn away").



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  • Don't put apostrophe's where they don't belong.

    January 25, 2007

  • A digression in the form of an address to someone not present, or to a personified object or idea

    May 20, 2007

  • Remember always to use an apostrophe (not an open quote mark) when it appears at the beginning of a word, e.g. ’cause (for because) and ’60s rather than ‘cause and ‘60s.

    Alas, the evil microsoft delights in making unsolicited corrections.

    March 30, 2008

  • I'd give up my whole apostrophe to have an id.

    April 21, 2008

  • An apostrophe does not a plural make.

    April 21, 2008

  • Goe's without saying.

    April 21, 2008

  • Except for plurals of letters (e.g., "a's", "b's", not "as", "bs").

    April 21, 2008

  • Is that true, mollusque? I don't remember ever knowing that. So cd's is correct for more than one cd, is it?

    April 22, 2008

  • No, because CD is more than one letter. The plural is CDs.

    April 22, 2008

  • The Apostrophe Protection Society

    May 11, 2008