punc·​tu·​a·​tion | \ˌpəŋk-chə-ˈwā-shən \

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

One amendment would have required that proper British English, complete with accurate punctuation, be a part of the legislation. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan House: Make English our official language," 22 Feb. 2018 Linguists and copy editors look at how the punctuation has adapted across history, literature, and internetspeak in this week’s episode of Explained, now on Netflix. Jennie Neufeld, Vox, "Vox Sentences: NATOhhh no...," 12 July 2018 But the rare cuts — both to hide the ends of film reels and for dramatic punctuation — occur at significant moments; pay attention, too, to the occasions when the camera crosses the stage line. Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times, "4 Film Series to Catch in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 12 July 2018 Other favorites include this super slinky bodycon dress that literally screams Veronica — the front slit features her name scrawled along the edge with red lipstick embroidery acting like punctuation. Mekita Rivas, Teen Vogue, "Torrid Launches Size-Inclusive Riverdale Merch," 29 June 2018 Often on the edge of a drape in a museum or something, the tassel is a punctuation that is in disarray. Maggie Lange, The Cut, "Some Thoughts on the Tassel Earring," 28 June 2018 And an LV City Steamer bag, with chevron leather and suede panels that picked up on the dress's palette, was the perfect punctuation. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "Brigitte Macron Wears (What Else?) Louis Vuitton for the NATO Spouse Summit," 12 July 2018 The three punctuation islands have one main characteristic in common: The fun is in getting there by ferry, not so much in being there. Joanne Cleaver, chicagotribune.com, "Door County vs. Leelanau: Which Midwest peninsula is tops? (Hint: Depends on the category.)," 25 June 2018 Therefore, watch out for overzealous comments, often with spelling and punctuation errors. Marc Saltzman, USA TODAY, "How to avoid a bad shopping trip on Amazon," 7 June 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.

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First Known Use of punctuation

1593, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

23 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for punctuation

The first known use of punctuation was in 1593

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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.


punc·​tu·​a·​tion | \ˌpəŋk-chə-ˈwā-shən \

Kids Definition of punctuation

1 : the act of adding punctuation marks to writing

2 : a system of using punctuation marks

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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).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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