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 Each verse ends with the name almost as a punctuation. Daniel Wolfe, Quartz, "Babies named Jolene are on the rise," 12 Dec. 2019 Modern metal flutes coexisted with the antique sound of a bamboo flute; traditional taiko drums crashed as punctuation on the action. Zachary Woolfe, New York Times, "A Dance Steals the Show at an Opera Festival," 19 Jan. 2020 Essays will be judged on originality, neatness, punctuation, spelling and grammar. cleveland, "Beachwood, Grand Valley schools pass resolutions following September racial event at football game; Press Run," 20 Dec. 2019 The Sweetener World Tour is over, after all, and this performance felt like punctuation to the end of a long sentence. Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour, "Fans Think Ariana Grande Made a Pete Davidson Reference During Her Grammys Performance," 27 Jan. 2020 Food manufacturers have been infantilizing us by selling calorie-dense, salty, sweet stuff in brightly colored packages with exciting punctuation for a very long time. Tamar Haspel, Washington Post, "How can we feed our kids better? Start by taking a look in the mirror.," 23 Dec. 2019 The book was almost unreadable, haphazardly capitalized, lacking punctuation and written in florid, apocalyptic prose. Ellen Barry, New York Times, "The Jungle Prince of Delhi," 22 Nov. 2019 The devices often misfire, inserting random characters or punctuation into messages, Robertson said. Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post, "Technology from 1964 keeps Colorado’s deaf inmates from communicating with the outside. A judge’s ruling just changed that.," 20 Sep. 2019 Computer science is an art form of words and punctuation, thoughtfully placed and goal-oriented, even if not necessarily deployed to evoke surprise or longing. Dan Rockmore, The New Yorker, "The Mechanical Muse," 7 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for punctuation

Time Traveler

The first known use of punctuation was in 1593

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Statistics for punctuation

Last Updated

24 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Punctuation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/punctuation. Accessed 4 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for punctuation


How to pronounce punctuation (audio)

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 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

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