from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The omission of a word or phrase necessary for a complete syntactical construction but not necessary for understanding.
  • noun An example of such omission.
  • noun A mark or series of marks ( … or * * * , for example) used in writing or printing to indicate an omission, especially of letters or words.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In grammar, omission; a figure of syntax by which a part of a sentence or phrase is used for the whole, by the omission of one or more words, leaving the full form to be understood or completed by the reader or hearer: as, “the heroic virtues I admire,” for “the heroic virtues which I admire”; “prythee, peace,” for “I pray thee, hold thy peace.”
  • noun In printing, a mark or marks, as—,* * *, …, denoting the omission or suppression of letters (as in kg for king) or of words.
  • noun In geometry, an ellipse.

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

  • noun (Gram.) Omission; a figure of syntax, by which one or more words, which are obviously understood, are omitted.
  • noun (Geom.), obsolete An ellipse.
  • noun (Printing) a printing symbol, usually three periods in a row (…), indicating the omission of some part of a text; -- used commonly in quotations, so as to suppress words not essential to the meaning. A long dash (---) and three asterisks (* * *) are sometimes used with the same meaning.

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

  • noun typography A mark consisting of three periods, historically with spaces in between, before, and after them “ . . . ”, nowadays a single character “” (used in printing to indicate an omission).
  • noun grammar, rhetoric The omission of a grammatically required word or phrase that can be inferred.
  • noun film The omission of scenes in a film that do not advance the plot.

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

  • noun omission or suppression of parts of words or sentences


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

[Latin ellīpsis, from Greek elleipsis, from elleipein, to fall short; see ellipse.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek ἔλλειψις (elleipsis, "omission").


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  • How to mark ellipsis is such a headache for copy-editors like me. Do you use the inelegant "three-dot" key (…) or the classier method of periods and unbreakable spaces (. . .). And do you put a space (breakable or unbreakable?) between the ellipsis and the preceding word . . . or. . . not? And what do you do if the ellipsis ends a question . . . ? And do you do something different when the ellipsis significes not the omission of part of a quotation but just trailing off, a pause, a break in the conversaton . . .

    December 1, 2007

  • Wow! The dilemma-horns of copy-editing are rife... ;oD

    December 2, 2007

  • I'm sure rolig isn't looking for an actual answer, but...

    Three-dots are not preferable, despite Microsoft Word's willingness to convert all . . .s into ...s.

    You put a space between the word and the ellipses that follow ONLY when it ends the sentence, which will be very clear because the period comes first, *then* the ellipses. Like so:

    "How to mark ellipsis is such a headache for . . . me."

    "How to mark ellipsis is such a headache for me. . . ."

    "What do you do if the ellipsis ends in a question . . . ?" is right.

    And no, you don't do something different . . . when the speaker . . . just . . . trails off.

    :) Fun with dots!

    December 2, 2007

  • Thanks, chained bear, for the pointed lesson!

    And oroboros, the idea of having to combine ellipses and emoticons . . .

    December 5, 2007

  • Awkward or elequent?

    September 26, 2008

  • See additional comments on whilst.

    May 16, 2011