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.

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Examples of parenthesis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Here is the poll for all four divisions, which includes first-place votes in parenthesis with records and point totals from the voting. Matt Goul, cleveland, "Laurel remains the only area girls basketball team ranked in the AP state poll," 12 Jan. 2021 Here are excerpts, with clarifying notes in parenthesis, from an extensive interview with Chuck Yeager, then 88, conducted near his home in Nevada County, Calif., in 2011. Sig Christenson, San Antonio Express-News, "Chuck Yeager, who dared the demon, now belongs to the stars," 23 Dec. 2020 Here is the latest A-List, with previous rankings in parenthesis. al, "Updated A-List: Who moved up in’s final 2021 recruiting rankings?," 13 Dec. 2020 Here is Baseball America's top 10 list, with the players' 2020 midseason rankings in parenthesis to show their movement: 1. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers prospects: Tarik Skubal jumps Casey Mize in Baseball America's rankings," 4 Dec. 2020 Unofficial Big Ten media preseason poll (first-place votes in parenthesis): 1. Marcus Fuller, Star Tribune, "Pitino's Gophers picked to finish 11th in the Big Ten unofficial media preseason poll," 17 Nov. 2020 Read the results of this week’s poll below for every division, including first-place votes in parenthesis, voting point totals and how voted: Others receiving 12 or more points: Powell Olentangy Liberty 21. Matt Goul, cleveland, "Hoban, Chardon and Kirtland atop divisions in final AP state football poll," 26 Oct. 2020 The number in parenthesis indicates how many homes and businesses are affected in each area. Chronicle Staff,, "Here’s what Bay Area cities are likely to see PG&E power shut-offs starting Wednesday," 12 Oct. 2020 The figures in parenthesis is the increase from the previous day. Leada Gore |, al, "Alabama adds 688 confirmed COVID cases after initially showing 11,000-plus," 4 Sep. 2020

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.

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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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Time Traveler for parenthesis

Time Traveler

The first known use of parenthesis was in 1548

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Statistics for parenthesis

Last Updated

19 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Parenthesis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for parenthesis


How to pronounce parenthesis (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of parenthesis

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


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

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Comments on parenthesis

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