\ ˈfrāz How to pronounce phrase (audio) \

Definition of phrase

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a characteristic manner or style of expression : diction
2a : a brief expression especially : catchphrase
b : word
3 : a short musical thought typically two to four measures long closing with a cadence
4 : a word or group of words forming a syntactic constituent with a single grammatical function an adverbial phrase
5 : a series of dance movements comprising a section of a pattern


phrased; phrasing

Definition of phrase (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to express in words or in appropriate or telling terms
b : to designate by a descriptive word or phrase
2 : to divide into melodic phrases

Synonyms for phrase

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of phrase in a Sentence

Noun Answer the questions in complete sentences, not phrases. She used the phrase “I strongly believe” too many times in her speech. Underline the key words or phrases in the paragraph. To borrow a phrase from my mother, I spend too much time “watching the boob tube” and not enough time outside. Verb He phrased his version of the story in a way that made him look good. The question was awkwardly phrased. The singer phrased the music beautifully. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The phrase was not the conference’s official theme. Iris Samuels, Anchorage Daily News, 9 Aug. 2022 Many of these are told in silent technique with only an occasional significant word or phrase drifting across the courtyard to the spectators. Jack Moffitt, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Aug. 2022 The phrase is a rallying cry critical of the Cuban government, and in the days leading up to the crash, Cubans had been protesting in the streets against the Caribbean nation’s ruling Communist Party. Billy Kobin, The Courier-Journal, 3 Aug. 2022 In a word or phrase, what's the biggest source of stress in your life right now? Matt Stout,, 26 July 2022 The iconic phrase was among many of the quips that made the former Real Housewives of Atlanta star Nene Leakes a pop culture titan. Jasmine Browley, Essence, 5 July 2022 Still, a search of the phrase on the platform reveals dozens of videos of young people, typically women, using the grandma era language. Kalhan Rosenblatt, NBC News, 21 July 2022 The rise of this phrase ‘fake news’ has been hard for me because my experience as a journalist is truth in telling people's stories. Jessica Pliska, Forbes, 11 July 2022 This was a turn of phrase used often by both David Simon and critics who covered The Wire in its early days. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 2 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb For instance, the team introduced the Google Ngram Viewer, which lets users type in a word or phrase and observe its usage plotted over the centuries. New York Times, 4 June 2022 Or, in this case, maybe a torso cutout is a better way to phrase it. Carrie Wittmer, Glamour, 16 May 2022 Back in Dallas, Garcia has a go-to phrase to sum up his long-term vision: weeding and seeding. Washington Post, 31 Mar. 2022 She was struck by the way other students relied on their parents, consulting them even about small choices, such as how to phrase an e-mail to a professor. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, 28 Mar. 2022 Some prefer to phrase this altogether crucial mega-topic as the AI containment problem. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 17 Mar. 2022 But be careful not to phrase things in a way where the child must do everything right. Alison Bowen,, 26 Jan. 2022 It’s my early-Sunday-morning-lounging-in-pajamas album, my romantic evening album, and my learning how to phrase a melody album. Liza Lentini, SPIN, 21 Jan. 2022 The app also makes suggestions to re-phrase wordy sentences and add transitional phrases that can improve your writing. Suzie Glassman, Wired, 16 Oct. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of phrase


1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1556, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for phrase


Latin phrasis, from Greek, from phrazein to point out, explain, tell

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Dictionary Entries Near phrase

phrasal verb


phrase book

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Statistics for phrase

Last Updated

12 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Phrase.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for phrase


\ ˈfrāz How to pronounce phrase (audio) \

Kids Definition of phrase

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a group of two or more words that express a single idea but do not form a complete sentence The group of words "out the door" in "they ran out the door" is a phrase.
2 : a brief expression that is commonly used


phrased; phrasing

Kids Definition of phrase (Entry 2 of 2)

: to express in words The boy was unable to phrase his idea.

More from Merriam-Webster on phrase

Nglish: Translation of phrase for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of phrase for Arabic Speakers


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