place·​hold·​er | \ ˈplās-ˌhōl-dər How to pronounce placeholder (audio) \
plural placeholders

Definition of placeholder

1 : a person or thing that occupies the position or place of another person or thing The bill would empower the governor to appoint a placeholder to a vacant U.S. Senate seat, to serve through the next general election cycle.— John Sharp The result was that the legislation represented little more than a placeholder to put the budget before a conference committee …— Carl Ingram
2 : a symbol in a mathematical or logical expression that may be replaced by the name of any element of a set
3 American football : a player who places and holds the ball upright on the ground for placekicking of a field goal

Examples of placeholder in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Less than three hours after Medvedev's resignation, Putin offered the post of prime minister to Mikhail Mishustin, the head of the Russian tax service who is viewed as a possible placeholder as Putin reshapes Russia's power structure. Isabelle Khurshudyan, Anchorage Daily News, "Russia’s government overhauled as Putin looks to cement influence after presidency," 15 Jan. 2020 Suffice to say, with the equity backstop contingent on the $17.9 billion cap and no more big fires, and the banks’ letters expressing confidence rather than binding commitment, the current plan looks more like a placeholder. Washington Post, "PG&E’s Busy Week Offers More Heat Than Light," 11 Sep. 2019 If there is no precognition, no placeholder mental picture that deems the matter significant, then perception can be delayed—and indeed, in many cases, entirely denied. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, The New Republic, "Naming the Threat," 2 Jan. 2020 But Trump has said this line item is just a placeholder and the White House is looking at all congressional proposals that have the potential to pass. Courtney Crowder, USA TODAY, "How Ivanka Trump is working on paid family leave, affordable child care -- and why it hasn’t passed," 3 Dec. 2019 So perhaps Robinson is more than placeholder for rounding-into-shape James Johnson, instead to be utilized in a role similar to Luke Babbitt in 2016-17. Ira Winderman,, "Heat offer hint of rotation as Butler rolls, Olynyk returns in victory in Orlando," 18 Oct. 2019 While its plan stipulates an amount for damages to wildfire victims, a lawyer familiar with the case said the figure was a placeholder in negotiations and efforts to secure funding for reorganization plans, not a maximum payout. Peter Eavis, New York Times, "Battle for PG&E Hinges on Rival Plans and Uncertain Costs," 7 Oct. 2019 Some might view Alabama as a placeholder in the College Football Playoff race, but the selection committee’s decision to keep the Tide at No. Mike Rodak |, al, "Who does Alabama need to lose this weekend? The fan rooting guide to Week 13," 21 Nov. 2019 Coulter’s announcement on Thursday belies that original characterization of his role as a placeholder. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "David Coulter to run for Oakland County executive in 2020," 31 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'placeholder.' 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 placeholder

1927, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for placeholder

Time Traveler

The first known use of placeholder was in 1927

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Statistics for placeholder

Last Updated

22 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Placeholder.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 26 January 2020.

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More Definitions for placeholder


place·​hold·​er | \ ˈplās-ˌhōl-dər How to pronounce placeholder (audio) \

Kids Definition of placeholder

: a symbol (as x, Δ, *) used in mathematics in the place of a numeral

More from Merriam-Webster on placeholder

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with placeholder

Britannica English: Translation of placeholder for Arabic Speakers

Comments on placeholder

What made you want to look up placeholder? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to express in a more acceptable way

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