place·​hold·​er ˈplās-ˌhōl-dər How to pronounce placeholder (audio)
plural placeholders
: 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
: a symbol in a mathematical or logical expression that may be replaced by the name of any element of a set
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 Add them to empty flower pots and urns, use them as a placeholder in your window’s flower box, or stick them in hanging baskets. Stephanie Osmanski, Southern Living, 10 Mar. 2024 That line, written by me or a member of the campaign staff, was a placeholder. Neal B. Freeman, National Review, 7 Apr. 2024 The bond Trump is posting with the court now is essentially a placeholder, meant to guarantee payment if the judgment is upheld. Michael R. Sisak, Fortune, 2 Apr. 2024 That bond is now essentially a placeholder that will guarantee payment if the judgment against Trump is upheld on appeal. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, 2 Apr. 2024 Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s former president and placeholder for Putin during a four-year interregnum, was characteristically militant in his comments on the tragedy. Nathan Hodge, CNN, 25 Mar. 2024 The last thing any woman aims to be is a placeholder who was handed her position based on some quota system, and in any case, this isn't the role of affirmative action. Abiola Salami, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2024 In many rehearsals, which included difficult run-throughs, Jackson and Benson limited the number of creative team members; placeholder movements were used to mark more physical interactions, like touching cheek to cheek instead of kissing on the lips. Rachel Sherman, New York Times, 27 Mar. 2024 Use these rustic carton planters as placeholders at the table or as favors for guests, or give them as thoughtful gifts to family members and neighbors. Mary Shannon Wells, Southern Living, 11 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'placeholder.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1927, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of placeholder was in 1927

Dictionary Entries Near placeholder

Cite this Entry

“Placeholder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


place·​hold·​er ˈplās-ˌhōl-dər How to pronounce placeholder (audio)
: a symbol used in mathematics in the place of a numeral not yet known

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