el·​lip·​sis | \ i-ˈlip-səs How to pronounce ellipsis (audio) , e- \
plural ellipses\ i-​ˈlip-​ˌsēz How to pronounce ellipsis (audio) , e-​ \

Essential Meaning of ellipsis

1 : the act of leaving out one or more words that are not necessary for a phrase to be understood "Begin when ready" for "Begin when you are ready" is an example of ellipsis.
2 : a sign (such as …) used in printed text to show that words have been left out

Full Definition of ellipsis

1a : the omission of one or more words that are obviously understood but that must be supplied to make a construction grammatically complete
b : a sudden leap from one topic to another
2 : marks or a mark (such as … ) indicating an omission (as of words) or a pause

Examples of ellipsis in a Sentence

“Begin when ready” for “Begin when you are ready” is an example of ellipsis.
Recent Examples on the Web For whatever reason, I’ve been drawn to ellipsis and anecdote lately and become more impatient with artful transition. Willing Davidson, The New Yorker, 20 Dec. 2021 Whether with the definitiveness of a period, an emphatic exclamation, or an inconclusive ellipsis. Roy S. Johnson | Rjohnson@al.com, al, 26 Aug. 2021 Perhaps because Martin and Hampson have so much to cover and so little time in which to do it, Feel Good concludes with more of an ellipsis than a period. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 3 June 2021 An earlier version of this article, which no longer cites him, incorrectly omitted the ellipsis from his quote. Betsy Mckay, WSJ, 27 Apr. 2021 The film begins and ends with a chorus of recordings of those calls—an appropriate ellipsis, as the search continues. The New Yorker, 14 Apr. 2021 The porter called Snowflake has been sacrificed on the altar of such a standard-practice ellipsis. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 11 Mar. 2021 Microsoft is now bringing that back into the browser, via the ellipsis (three-dot) menu in the upper right-hand corner. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, 4 Mar. 2021 To younger texters: The ellipsis can be used to convey that there’s something left unsaid. Carly Mallenbaum, USA TODAY, 28 Sep. 2020

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

1540, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for ellipsis

Latin, from Greek elleipsis ellipsis, ellipse, from elleipein to leave out, fall short, from en in + leipein to leave — more at in, loan

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The first known use of ellipsis was in 1540

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Last Updated

15 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ellipsis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ellipsis. Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on ellipsis

Nglish: Translation of ellipsis for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ellipsis


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