el·​lip·​sis | \ i-ˈlip-səs How to pronounce ellipsis (audio) , e-\
plural ellipses\ i-​ˈlip-​ˌsēz How to pronounce ellipses (audio) , e-​ \

Definition of ellipsis

1a : the omission of one or more words that are obviously understood but that must be supplied to make a construction grammatically complete
b : a sudden leap from one topic to another
2 : marks or a mark (such as … ) indicating an omission (as of words) or a pause

Examples of ellipsis in a Sentence

“Begin when ready” for “Begin when you are ready” is an example of ellipsis.

Recent Examples on the Web

Her giggling bridesmaids are captivated when several men are mentioned punctuate with the power of the ellipsis . . . cleveland.com, "Mamma Mia! energy captivates Regina Hall: Sun Messages," 16 June 2019 The very visible boldness of the editing, the leaps and ellipses, keep the idea of cutting very much at the forefront. Adina Hoffman, The New York Review of Books, "Geoffrey O’Brien," 18 Apr. 2019 Also, black is the color of the screen between the chapters of a story that takes bold narrative leaps off-screen; the impact of these ellipses is stunning. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘Cold War’ Review: Love Under Siege," 20 Dec. 2018 Wielding mostly 16-millimeter film, the director of photography, Ryan Kernaghan, mimics the home movies of the time with flickering ellipses and flares of dazzling, burned-out white. Martin Brennan, New York Times, "Review: Sinfulness and Scares Behind ‘The Devil’s Doorway’," 12 July 2018 The ungrammatical use of ellipses to convey a pause or . . . Lynda Robinson, Washington Post, "‘Piercingly funny’: Tom Wolfe’s years as a Washington Post reporter," 15 May 2018 His hero, mentor and friend was the late Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, who printed many of Bellingham’s observations and witticism over the years and whose style clearly influenced Bellingham, down to the use of the ellipsis — or three dots. Steve Rubenstein, San Francisco Chronicle, "Memorial set for Bruce Bellingham, newspaper columnist, master of the one-liner," 13 June 2018 Have there ever been ellipses more fraught with tension in the history of punctuation? Chelsea Peng, Marie Claire, "Iggy Azalea Writes a Treatise on the Britney Spears Affair," 1 July 2015 Wolfe seemed to find the effect singularly entertaining, telling the story with a glimmer in his eye and a smile on his lips that seemed the in-person equivalent of his trademark dashes, exclamation points, and ellipses. Corey Seymour, Vogue, "For Tom Wolfe, Affectation Was Armor," 15 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ellipsis.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ellipsis

1540, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for ellipsis

Latin, from Greek elleipsis ellipsis, ellipse, from elleipein to leave out, fall short, from en in + leipein to leave — more at in, loan

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Statistics for ellipsis

Last Updated

20 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for ellipsis

The first known use of ellipsis was in 1540

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English Language Learners Definition of ellipsis

: the act of leaving out one or more words that are not necessary for a phrase to be understood
: a sign (such as …) used in printed text to show that words have been left out

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More from Merriam-Webster on ellipsis

Spanish Central: Translation of ellipsis

Nglish: Translation of ellipsis for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ellipsis

Comments on ellipsis

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