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

expression, idiom

Synonyms: Verb

articulate, clothe, couch, express, formulate, put, say, state, word

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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

But the show, like all of her works, is untitled — no snappy catch phrase, no leading statement. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, "Painter Vivian Suter emerges from decades of self-exile with bright, blissful works at the ICA," 29 Aug. 2019 The phrase ’80s music usually garners a near-immediate sonic and aesthetic rendering: synths, big hair, questionably large vocals, and probably leather and spandex. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "18 '80s Songs That Will Never Get Old," 28 Aug. 2019 Meanwhile, a two-year-old child tested alongside Kanzi quickly intuits that two nouns can make up a noun phrase, tucked as a direct object into a verb phrase, which in turn is part of a sentence. The Economist, "A new book spells out the magic of language," 22 Aug. 2019 That’s my automatic shorthand catch-up phrase now, for people who haven’t seen me in a few years. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, "Rural bliss: Living with goats and chickens," 15 July 2019 This was, to be sure, before the #MeToo movement, but even by 1970s standards these bad boys were, in a phrase, bad boys. David Shribman, latimes.com, "Jim Bouton’s bawdy ‘Ball Four’ transformed baseball's public image," 11 July 2019 The sites, the apps, the ubiquitous platforms: Computers run the show now, and we—mere data subjects, in the EU's unflattering phrase—work for and worship them. Wired, "How Fans Are Remaking Entertainment in Their Own Image," 19 Aug. 2019 The work features a fence that partially obstructs images of a bloody handgun and a pair of giant hands hammering up a banner bearing the signature phrase from the Gadsden flag, the banner of the Tea Party. Steven Litt, cleveland.com, "2019 Whitney Biennial filled with anxiety-ridden artworks that inspire empathy, indict the powerful," 18 Aug. 2019 Video taken by witnesses also showed him shouting the phrase. Fox News, "Sydney stabbing victim identified as sex worker, 24, who reportedly saw suspect before rampage," 15 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In 2016, Trump supporters waved similarly phrased Make America Great Again hats. James Pindell, BostonGlobe.com, "How Ross Perot paved the way for Donald Trump," 9 July 2019 Yi phrased lyrical passages well and showed remarkable poise. Tim Diovanni, Dallas News, "Clarinet trio shines in opening concert at Dallas’ Basically Beethoven Festival," 12 July 2019 The question was hypothetical, the answer phrased to emphasize it as such. Robert O'connell, The Atlantic, "Anthony Davis and LeBron James Are Uniquely Suited to Win," 17 June 2019 The board went back and forth on how to phrase its policy. Emma Kate Fittes, Indianapolis Star, "'We will do better': Acting HSE board president apologizes after controversial comments," 13 June 2019 Effectively, that means he was fired, but the administration didn’t quite want to phrase it that way. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "Read Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s resignation letter," 7 Nov. 2018 But now this needs to be phrased as a question, rather than a certainty that such voters would never support him. Joseph C. Sternberg, WSJ, "How an Accident Could Happen in Britain," 27 Sep. 2018 Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul who understood vocal harmony and phrasing perhaps better than any of her female pop and soul contemporaries, died Thursday. Marc Myers, WSJ, "Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, Dies," 16 Aug. 2018 All are expected to want a voice in Republican strategy for Trump in the midterms, adding only more chaos, as one White House official phrased it, to an already unruly presidency. Anchorage Daily News, "Trump dismisses midterm threat, alarming GOP," 28 Apr. 2018

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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Statistics for phrase

Last Updated

5 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for phrase

The first known use of phrase was in 1530

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More Definitions for phrase

phrase

noun

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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More from Merriam-Webster on phrase

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with phrase

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for phrase

Spanish Central: Translation of phrase

Nglish: Translation of phrase for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of phrase for Arabic Speakers

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