punc·​tu·​ate | \ˈpəŋk-chə-ˌwāt \
punctuated; punctuating

Definition of punctuate 

transitive verb

1 : to mark or divide (written matter) with punctuation marks

2 : to break into or interrupt at intervals the steady click of her needles punctuated the silence— Edith Wharton

intransitive verb

: to use punctuation marks

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Other Words from punctuate

punctuator \ˈpəŋk-​chə-​ˌwā-​tər \ 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

This past May, Victoria Beckham captivated photographers at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding by wearing a midnight blue long-sleeve dress, punctuated by ruby red shoes. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "Forget Black Pumps: Victoria Beckham Has Just the Right Shoe for a Classic Party Dress," 6 Dec. 2018 Mostly American tourists enjoy safari drives punctuated by sundowner cocktails, breakfasts on the veranda, plunge pools and bathrooms larger than a small apartment. Helena Pozniak, Popular Mechanics, "The Technology That Will Finally Stop Poachers," 26 Nov. 2018 After slipping on an Oculus headset and tightening the velcro straps around my temple, I’m greeted by a boot screen, basically a white expanse in every direction, punctuated by black dots to form a grid. Patrick Sisson, Vox, "In Walmart’s virtual reality simulation, Black Friday never ends," 15 Nov. 2018 Youths and elderly women punctuated her campaign speech with song, dance and the beating of drums. Farai Mutsaka, Fox News, "Guess who's still a factor in Zimbabwe's election? Mugabe.," 22 July 2018 The scent of sage perfumed the air, and bursts of red foliage punctuated the gray-green grasslands. Beth J. Harpaz, chicagotribune.com, "Badlands and history in Theodore Roosevelt National Park," 5 July 2018 Asad punctuated the sequence with a breezy goal on a penalty kick to tie the game, 2-2. Owen Pence, BostonGlobe.com, "Revolution hold off D.C. United," 1 July 2018 Cheryshev made it 4-0 with an astonishing outside-of-the-boot curler, then Golovin punctuated his very man-of-the-match worthy performance with a goal on a free kick. Brian Straus, SI.com, "Russia's World Cup Opener Alters Its Narrative, Changes Its Outlook, Pleases Putin," 14 June 2018 Woodwinds and brass offered great color and control; the percussion punctuated the big moments with great finesse. Tim Smith, baltimoresun.com, "BSO, Alsop wrap up season with meaty American, Russian program," 8 June 2018

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

circa 1766, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for punctuate

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

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Statistics for punctuate

Last Updated

14 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for punctuate

The first known use of punctuate was circa 1766

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More Definitions for punctuate



English Language Learners Definition of punctuate

: to use punctuation marks in (a piece of writing)

: to interrupt or occur in (something) repeatedly


punc·​tu·​ate | \ˈpəŋk-chə-ˌwāt \
punctuated; punctuating

Kids Definition of punctuate

1 : to add punctuation marks to writing

2 : to interrupt or occur in repeatedly His speech was punctuated by applause.

3 : to give emphasis to She kept talking, using her hands sometimes to punctuate a point.— Brian Selznick, Wonderstruck

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