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 The words are memorialized on a mural of a bloodied, victorious Diaz painted on the side of a building in his hometown, the last word replaced by an ellipsis. John Branch, New York Times, "U.F.C. Needs an Antihero: Nate Diaz Returns Just in Time," 15 Aug. 2019 Their paths will stretch out into long ellipses, which take the objects much farther apart before swinging them much closer together. Quanta Magazine, "To Make Two Black Holes Collide, Try Three," 15 Aug. 2019 The ellipsis… the ‘dot dot dot’ that inspires the greatest practice of patience in this digital era. Stephanie Petit, PEOPLE.com, "Meghan Markle Shares Her 'Personal Favorite' Poem — with an Unexpected F-Bomb!," 1 Aug. 2019 The orbits of Earth and Mars are both gigantic ellipses. Matt Blitz, Popular Mechanics, "Michael Collins Is Ready To Go To Mars," 20 July 2019 The graphs of such curves are the conic sections — circles, parabolas, ellipses and hyperbolas. Quanta Magazine, "Mathematicians Shed Light on Minimalist Conjecture," 9 July 2013 Ansari, after issuing a statement in response to Grace’s claim, largely avoided discussing the matter in public—a fact that helped the story and the discussions surrounding it to trail off, punctuated with unsatisfying ellipses. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "Aziz Ansari and the Physics of Moving Forward," 11 July 2019 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

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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More Definitions for ellipsis


How to pronounce ellipsis (audio)

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

What made you want to look up ellipsis? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to engage in dissolute behavior

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