phrase

noun
\ 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

phrase

verb
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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Each contained a photo of a word or phrase written on the back of individual Lions player's helmets. Tyler J. Davis, Detroit Free Press, "Lions players chose social justice messages they want printed on helmets. Here's what they say," 13 Sep. 2020 The virus had mentioned the phrase grammersoft, which investigators quickly established was an underground hacking cell made up of AMA students, some of whom had started experimenting with viruses. Geoff White, Wired, "The 20-Year Hunt for the Man Behind the Love Bug Virus," 12 Sep. 2020 Winthrop used the phrase as a metaphor for the new world settlement. The Rev. Mike Taylor, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Taylor: Even during this dark time, God has a plan for America | RELIGION COMMENTARY," 12 Sep. 2020 Trump used the same phrase after an expressionless Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York appeared in the frame. Robert Costa And Philip Rucker Washington Post, Star Tribune, "Trump says he knew coronavirus was 'deadly' while publicly downplaying it, new book says," 9 Sep. 2020 Trump used the same phrase after an expressionless Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York appeared in the frame. Author: Robert Costa, Philip Rucker, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump says he knew coronavirus was ‘deadly’ while intentionally misleading Americans, new book reports," 9 Sep. 2020 The crucial fact about these characters is hidden in the last phrase of that introduction. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Is Nationalism Curative or Fatal?," 7 Sep. 2020 Reeves supports President Donald Trump, who has also used the phrase. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "WWII anniversary, liquor boom, tracking app: News from around our 50 states," 5 Sep. 2020 The narrator is to have no part in the suicide other than offering emotional support—but what could such an anodyne phrase mean in the context of imminent death? Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: A Designated Mourner," 4 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Edna’s will blazes up even in this tiny, hanging room of her own, as Virginia Woolf would famously phrase it nearly 30 years later. Claire Vaye Watkins, New York Times, "The Classic Novel That Saw Pleasure as a Path to Freedom," 27 Feb. 2020 O'Reilly phrased the question in military terms, asking whether the president would use drones to attack the cartels. David Jackson, USA TODAY, "Mexico requests meeting with Pompeo after Trump floats plan to designate Mexican drug cartels as terror groups," 27 Nov. 2019 That last one is the top insult in this group — neoliberal shill, is how it would be phrased. Nellie Bowles, New York Times, "The Pied Pipers of the Dirtbag Left Want to Lead Everyone to Bernie Sanders," 11 Mar. 2020 New York Times critic Pete Wells famously skewered the restaurant in a 2012 review, where all 1,000-some words were phrased as a question. Sarah Blaskovich, Dallas News, "Guy Fieri of Food Network is opening another restaurant near Dallas-Fort Worth," 4 Mar. 2020 But perhaps more incisive than the statement itself is the way it is phrased. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "The US health secretary is making anti-abortion speak official government language," 24 Jan. 2020 Colts coach Frank Reich said earlier this week when the question was phrased that way. Joel A. Erickson, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Colts’ success in running game makes Jacoby Brissett's passing issues even worse," 26 Dec. 2019 Imagine spending days preparing for an exam, studying not only the subject but the style of the professor: how questions are phrased, what's valued in answers, etc. Richard Morin, azcentral, "Arizona Coyotes prepare for 'dangerous' Maple Leafs after Toronto fires coach," 20 Nov. 2019 The survey’s questions are phrased in a way to encourage students to be honest about what is happening with them and in their school community, said Mary Cathryn Ricker, the state education commissioner. Christopher Magan, Twin Cities, "Vaping surges among MN youth, survey of students finds," 2 Oct. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of phrase

Noun

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1556, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for phrase

Noun

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

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Time Traveler for phrase

Time Traveler

The first known use of phrase was in 1530

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Statistics for phrase

Last Updated

16 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Phrase.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/phrase. Accessed 24 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for phrase

phrase

noun
How to pronounce phrase (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of phrase

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a group of two or more words that express a single idea but do not usually form a complete sentence
: a brief expression that is commonly used
music : a short section of a longer piece of music

phrase

verb

English Language Learners Definition of phrase (Entry 2 of 2)

: to say (something) in a particular way
: to perform (a piece of music) with the notes grouped together in a particular way

phrase

noun
\ 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

phrase

verb
phrased; phrasing

Kids Definition of phrase (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Comments on phrase

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