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

The bill, which was unveiled Monday afternoon as an amendment to replace a placeholder bill, would also restore public employers’ ability to pay incentives to employees who opt out of double health insurance coverage. Hillary Borrud | The Oregonian/oregonlive,, "Oregon state, school workers could get to keep double health insurance," 7 June 2019 Officials in acting capacities are often viewed as placeholders who don’t pursue policy initiatives until a permanent official is confirmed by the Senate. Byron Tau, WSJ, "Justice Department Poised to Issue Legal Opinion Supporting Whitaker Appointment," 12 Nov. 2018 Last year's October update introduced a new feature for OneDrive: placeholders to represent files that were stored in OneDrive, but not downloaded locally. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Microsoft’s problem isn’t how often it updates Windows—it’s how it develops it," 20 Oct. 2018 Although impressive, Summit can be seen as a placeholder. Steve Lohr, New York Times, "Move Over, China: U.S. Is Again Home to World’s Speediest Supercomputer," 8 June 2018 Look, somebody, Beto to me is placeholder for now of the total outsider that could come in and capture the imagination. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Full Q&A: NBC journalists Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell and Hallie Jackson on Recode Decode," 5 Dec. 2018 Since the Tide is only a placeholder — a meeting is planned to select a permanent name — how much effort does the company put into building that brand? Trisha Thadani, San Francisco Chronicle, "Four Barrel rushes to rebrand, scraping tainted name off windows," 11 Jan. 2018 OneDrive beta testers will be able to get access to the feature today, which lets OneDrive users use placeholders for files instead of syncing entire folders onto a MacBook. Tom Warren, The Verge, "Microsoft brings OneDrive Files On-Demand to the Mac," 24 Sep. 2018 With placeholders, the local OneDrive directory appears to contain the full directory structure and all the files that are found in the cloud. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Windows 10 will use the cloud to free up disk space," 11 Sep. 2018

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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Last Updated

11 Jun 2019

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The first known use of placeholder was in 1927

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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

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behavior toward others

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