punctuation

noun
punc·​tu·​a·​tion | \ ˌpəŋk-chə-ˈwā-shən How to pronounce punctuation (audio) \

Definition of punctuation

1 : the act of punctuating : the state of being punctuated
2 : the act or practice of inserting standardized marks or signs in written matter to clarify the meaning and separate structural units also : a system of punctuation
3 : something that contrasts or accentuates

Examples of punctuation in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Reis fiddles with sentences until the punctuation is just right. Nic Garcia, The Denver Post, "Marlon Reis finding his voice as Colorado’s first gentleman," 13 June 2019 Excerpts have been lightly edited for spelling, grammar and punctuation. Seattle Times Staff, The Seattle Times, "‘Who’s to blame?’: The best comments this week on seattletimes.com," 7 June 2019 Nonfiction titles promise to enlighten and entertain with insects, punctuation, fashion, history, and man fasting (see below). John Timpane, https://www.inquirer.com, "Big summer books for 2019 by Mark Haddon, Elizabeth Gilbert, Colson Whitehead, Tan France," 5 June 2019 The purple bench in the entry is also color punctuation. Lisa Cregan, House Beautiful, "Pat Healing's Tips for Decorating with Color," 19 July 2011 In the 1960s, Merwin moved back to New York, living in Greenwich Village, where his work became more experimental and autobiographical, losing punctuation and other formal elements. Bridget Read, Vogue, "W.S. Merwin, Prize-Winning Poet and Conservationist, Has Died at 91," 15 Mar. 2019 Every once in a while, a Wall Street Journal columnist envies the punctuation of people who don’t have to follow a stylebook. Jason Zweig, WSJ, "Mutual Funds Just Can’t Seem to Stop Slipping Up," 31 Aug. 2018 As the evening wound down, guests left with beach-friendly straw totes filled with items from Goop and Saks—the ideal punctuation to a lovely, midsummer night. Vogue, "Goop and Saks Fifth Avenue Toast Summer in Sag Harbor," 18 July 2018 Then, Kaitlyn interviews The Verge’s copy editor Kara Verlaney about her thoughts on proper punctuation across the internet and all its forms. Ashley Carman, The Verge, "The way we text says a lot about our personality," 7 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'punctuation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of punctuation

1593, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about punctuation

Statistics for punctuation

Last Updated

17 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for punctuation

The first known use of punctuation was in 1593

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for punctuation

punctuation

noun

English Language Learners Definition of punctuation

: the marks (such as periods and commas) in a piece of writing that make its meaning clear and that separate it into sentences, clauses, etc.

punctuation

noun
punc·​tu·​a·​tion | \ ˌpəŋk-chə-ˈwā-shən How to pronounce punctuation (audio) \

Kids Definition of punctuation

1 : the act of adding punctuation marks to writing
2 : a system of using punctuation marks

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on punctuation

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with punctuation

Spanish Central: Translation of punctuation

Nglish: Translation of punctuation for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of punctuation for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about punctuation

Comments on punctuation

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

WORD OF THE DAY

showing courage and determination

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!