serial comma


variants or less commonly series comma
: a comma used to separate the second-to-last item in a list from a final item introduced by the conjunction and or or
If you've always used the serial comma—"red, white, and blue"—its absence can look slipshod and lazy. If you were taught the more streamlined AP style—"red, white and blue"—the extra comma may seem fussy and pretentious.Jan Freeman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3 Apr. 2011

called also Harvard comma, Oxford comma

Word History

First Known Use

1922, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of serial comma was in 1922

Love words?

You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

Dictionary Entries Near serial comma

Cite this Entry

“Serial comma.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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