Definitions

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • 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.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. 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.

from The 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.
  • n. In zoology, the punctures of a punctate surface.

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

  • 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

Etymologies

From Medieval Latin punctuatio ("a marking with points, a writing, agreement"), from punctuare ("to mark with points, settle"); see punctuate. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • Yes, that was the original joke, but the book title is something else. Also roots doesn't mean the same thing in the U.S. as it does in Australia (or the U.K.? dunno), so the joke doesn't work here.

    July 21, 2008

  • The original joke was "Eats, roots, shoots, and leaves."

    July 21, 2008

  • Thanks Mia.

    July 21, 2008

  • "Dear Jack, I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy – will you let me be yours? – Jill."

    And:

    "Dear Jack, I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men I yearn! For you I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart I can be forever happy. Will you let me be? – Yours, Jill."

    From Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss.

    :)

    July 21, 2008

  • From my schooldays:
    King Charles I walked and talked half an hour after his head was cut off.
    ->
    King Charles I walked and talked. Half an hour after his head was cut off.

    July 21, 2008

  • "Go get him surgeons" (Macbeth I.ii.49).
    There's no punctuation in the Shakespeare, so I suppose one could read it either:

    1) Go, get him surgeons!
    2) Go get him, surgeons!

    Watch out, or I'll sic my Shakespearian surgeons on you!

    July 17, 2008

  • What about the wombat?

    July 16, 2008

  • I cannot take credit for that coinage, I'm afraid :(

    July 16, 2008

  • Let's not mention wombats.

    July 16, 2008

  • I guess an estranged father would be a sperm donor? How cold :|

    July 16, 2008

  • I know someone who refers to her estranged mother as "The Incubator".

    July 16, 2008

  • We used to say maternal unit. It's shorter.

    July 16, 2008

  • Female parental unit! May I add it to my words, Plethora? That's so adorable.

    July 16, 2008

  • My female parental unit bought me that lovely book for Christmas :)

    July 15, 2008

  • These are really some nice ones. And I've read that clever little book, Dontcry! You've probably got it, too.

    July 15, 2008

  • A panda eats shoots and leaves.
    A panda eats, shoots, and leaves.

    July 15, 2008

  • There was that one about ... some Russian leader renowned for his cruelty ... wish I could remember which one ... whose wife allegedly intercepted a note he had written to his chief of police,

    "Pardon impossible. To be sent to Siberia."

    And changed it to read:

    "Pardon. Impossible to be sent to Siberia."

    Surely that's apocryphal, and also it's kind of lame compared with the other two on this page so far.

    July 14, 2008

  • There was that one about ... some Russian leader renowned for his cruelty ... wish I could remember which one ... whose wife allegedly intercepted a note he had written to his chief of police,

    "Pardon impossible. To be sent to Siberia."

    And changed it to read:

    "Pardon. Impossible to be sent to Siberia."

    Surely that's apocryphal, and also it's kind of lame compared with the other two on this page so far.

    July 14, 2008

  • That's a good one! I'm sure there are more.

    July 14, 2008

  • My librarian gave us this barbershop motto in about Grade 4:

    What do you think
    I shave you for sixpence
    and give you a drink

    Redub:
    What?! Do you think
    I shave you for sixpence?
    AND give you a drink?!

    July 14, 2008

  • As evinced here:

    1. A woman, without her man, is nothing.
    2. A woman: without her, man is nothing.

    July 14, 2008