pa·​ren·​the·​sis | \ pə-ˈren(t)-thə-səs How to pronounce parenthesis (audio) \
plural parentheses\ pə-​ˈren(t)-​thə-​ˌsēz How to pronounce parenthesis (audio) \

Definition of parenthesis

1a : an amplifying (see amplify sense 1) or explanatory word, phrase, or sentence inserted in a passage from which it is usually set off by punctuation explained further in a parenthesis
b : a remark or passage that departs from the theme of a discourse : digression The speaker inserted some often amusing parentheses during his speech.
2 : interlude, interval The parenthesis of war interrupted the course of his life.
3 : 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 The plant's common name is followed by its Latin name in parentheses.

Examples of parenthesis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web If the soloist listed appears on a recording billed to another artist, the latter’s name is in parenthesis for identification. Hilary Lewis, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Apr. 2022 If the soloist listed appears on a recording billed to another artist, the latter’s name is in parenthesis for identification. Katie Atkinson, Billboard, 3 Apr. 2022 Ranking in the postseason early Top 25 in parenthesis. Erick Smith, USA TODAY, 4 May 2022 Meanwhile, seven cities on Biz2Credit’s new Top 25 ranking for 2020 dropped off the list (2020 rank in parenthesis): Raleigh (15), St. Louis (18), Charlotte (19), Chicago (20), Minneapolis-St. Rohit Arora, Forbes, 3 May 2022 Times are estimated based on an average of the past five years, with those times listed in parenthesis from most recent to oldest. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 22 Apr. 2022 One business executive left the Élysée Palace thinking the war in Ukraine represented a parenthesis in Western trade ties with Russia, not an uncoupling. Nick Kostov,, 23 Mar. 2022 If a player was on the list last month, his past ranking is in parenthesis. Tim Bielik, cleveland, 6 Jan. 2022 The man was bent like a parenthesis, with a bald head that shined like the rock that was split open on Rudy Kauffmann's desk, onto which the ancient fellow now tossed a sheaf of papers. CBS News, 6 Jan. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of parenthesis

1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for parenthesis

Late Latin, from Greek, literally, act of inserting, from parentithenai to insert, from para- + en- en- + tithenai to place — more at do

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The first known use of parenthesis was in 1548

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Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Parenthesis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for parenthesis


pa·​ren·​the·​sis | \ pə-ˈren-thə-səs How to pronounce parenthesis (audio) \
plural parentheses\ -​ˌsēz \

Kids Definition of parenthesis

: one of a pair of marks ( ) used to enclose a word or group of words or to group mathematical terms to be dealt with as a unit

Other Words from parenthesis

parenthetical \ -​ti-​kəl \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on parenthesis

Nglish: Translation of parenthesis for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of parenthesis for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about parenthesis


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