noun \pə-ˈren(t)-thə-səs\

: one of a pair of marks ( ) that are used around a word, phrase, sentence, number, etc.

plural pa·ren·the·ses\-ˌsēz\

Full Definition of PARENTHESIS

a :  an amplifying or explanatory word, phrase, or sentence inserted in a passage from which it is usually set off by punctuation
b :  a remark or passage that departs from the theme of a discourse :  digression
:  one or both of the curved marks ( ) used in writing and printing to enclose a parenthetical expression or to group a symbolic unit in a logical or mathematical expression
par·en·thet·i·cal \ˌper-ən-ˈthe-ti-kəl, pa-rən-\ also par·en·thet·ic \-tik\ adjective
par·en·thet·i·cal·ly \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb


  1. <regarded her husband's brief fling with a coworker as no more than a parethesis in an otherwise solid marriage>


Late Latin, from Greek, literally, act of inserting, from parentithenai to insert, from para- + en- en- + tithenai to place — more at do
First Known Use: circa 1550

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms

ablaut, allusion, anacoluthon, diacritic, gerund, idiom, infinitive, metaphor, semiotics, simile


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