punc·​tu·​ate ˈpəŋk-chə-ˌwāt How to pronounce punctuate (audio)
punctuated; punctuating

transitive verb

: to mark or divide (written matter) with punctuation marks
: to break into or interrupt at intervals
the steady click of her needles punctuated the silenceEdith Wharton

intransitive verb

: to use punctuation marks
punctuator noun

Examples of punctuate in a Sentence

Do you know how to punctuate a sentence correctly? punctuated each and every word of his denial with a pound of his fist on the table
Recent Examples on the Web The trial is a showcase of detailed technical evidence, punctuated by moments of drama. Susie Violet Ward, Forbes, 12 Feb. 2024 From the front, the scrap-wood sculpture appears as an elementary outline of a person, punctuated by two circular cavities. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, 9 Feb. 2024 The explosion sent a blast of heat and sound, its boom punctuated by the gunman’s AK-47. Tribune News Service, The Mercury News, 9 Feb. 2024 Over a dreamy track punctuated by hard hip-hop drums, Blacko and Mabel meditate on healing and living drama free. Mankaprr Conteh, Rolling Stone, 8 Feb. 2024 Richardson punctuated his night with eight points in the fourth and closed 9 for 15 from the field on his 24-point night. Barry Jackson, Miami Herald, 1 Feb. 2024 Umbrellas and raincoats are ubiquitous; the drama involves the consequences and urgencies arising from leaky roofs, and the visible and audible beat of cars’ windshield wipers punctuates and inflects the action throughout like an additional musical score. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 25 Jan. 2024 The trophy case tells the story at Elk Grove High School: Playoff teams in the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s, punctuated by CIF Sac-Joaquin Section and Northern California Division II championships in 2016. Marcus D. Smith, Sacramento Bee, 30 Jan. 2024 The question hung in the cold air, punctuated by the sound of a snoring beagle. Melanie D.g. Kaplan, Miami Herald, 30 Jan. 2024 See More

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

Word History


Medieval Latin punctuatus, past participle of punctuare to point, provide with punctuation marks, from Latin punctus point

First Known Use

circa 1766, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of punctuate was circa 1766

Dictionary Entries Near punctuate

Cite this Entry

“Punctuate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/punctuate. Accessed 20 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


punc·​tu·​ate ˈpəŋ(k)-chə-ˌwāt How to pronounce punctuate (audio)
punctuated; punctuating
: to mark or divide with punctuation marks
: to interrupt at intervals
a speech punctuated by a harsh cough

More from Merriam-Webster on punctuate

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