pa·​ren·​the·​sis | \pə-ˈren(t)-thə-səs \
plural parentheses\ pə-​ˈren(t)-​thə-​ˌsēz \

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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Other Words from parenthesis

parenthetical \ ˌper-​ən-​ˈthe-​ti-​kəl , pa-​rən-​ \ or less commonly parenthetic \ ˌper-​ən-​ˈthe-​tik , pa-​rən-​ \ adjective
parenthetically \ ˌper-​ən-​ˈthe-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē , pa-​rən-​ \ adverb

Examples of parenthesis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Here are the final Sentinel Super Six softball rankings of the season with win-loss records in parenthesis: Softball Super Six 1. J.c. Carnahan,, "State champion Hagerty finishes atop Sentinel Super Six softball rankings," 6 June 2018 Below is the order in which those Florida groomed players appeared on Kiper's list, with their ranking by Mayock in parenthesis (if applicable). Jordan Mcpherson, miamiherald, "The state of Florida should be well represented in the NFL Draft | Miami Herald," 25 Apr. 2018 Fair organizers have provided The Bee with a list of new and unique edibles for this year's event and some are shown below (vendor in parentheses). Daniel Wilson, sacbee, "What’s new at the California State Fair? Here’s everything you need to know," 13 July 2018 Iowa Corn 300 qualifying results Order listed with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, and speed in mph. 1. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Will Power keeps collecting poles as drivers expect 'pretty good show' in Iowa," 7 July 2018 Here's the starting lineup for today's Overton's 400 (car number in parentheses): FULL LINEUP: Overton's 400 1. (21) Paul Menard, Ford, 180.012 mph. 2. Ellen J. Horrow, USA TODAY, "NASCAR Cup Series at Chicagoland Speedway 2018: Start time, lineup, TV schedule, more," 1 July 2018 Here are capsule previews of Chicago-area high school football teams for the 2018 season with last year’s records in parentheses. Mike Clark,, "High school football 2018: The Twitter preview," 26 June 2018 Buy Photo Unless noted in parentheses, winners receive two tickets to a Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park. Nick Tricome,, "2018 Home Run Payoff Winners," 11 June 2018 Here's the starting lineup for today's FireKeepers Casino 400 (car number in parentheses): 1. Ellen J. Horrow, USA TODAY, "NASCAR Cup Series at Michigan 2018: Start time, lineup, TV schedule, more," 10 June 2018

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

The first known use of parenthesis was in 1548

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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 \
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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