There are 2 main definitions of apostrophe in English:

Share this entry

Share this page

apostrophe1

Syllabification: a·pos·tro·phe
Pronunciation: /əˈpästrəfē
 
/

noun

A punctuation mark ( ’ ) used to indicate either possession (e.g., Harry’s book; boys’ coats) or the omission of letters or numbers (e.g., can’t; he’s; class of ’99).
Example sentences
  • The playwrights' experimental use of English (including the absence of capital letters, apostrophes, punctuation, etc.) is one way in which they resist oppression.
  • Still others prefer a middle option that keeps the apostrophe for omission and elision but drops it for plurality and possession.
  • When the possessor is single we indicate possession by using an apostrophe followed by the letter ‘s’ - ‘The man's coat’.

Origin

mid 16th century (denoting the omission of one or more letters): via late Latin, from Greek apostrophos 'accent of elision', from apostrephein 'turn away', from apo 'from' + strephein 'to turn'.

More
  • Now a punctuation mark, apostrophe originally referred to the omission of one or more letters; it comes via late Latin from Greek apostrophos ‘accent of elision’, from apostrephein ‘turn away’.

Usage

The apostrophe is used to indicate missing letters or numbers ( bo’sun; the summer of ’63), to form some possessives (see possessive (usage)), and to form some plurals (see plural (usage)).

Definition of apostrophe in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

There are 2 main definitions of apostrophe in English:

Share this entry

Share this page

apostrophe2

Syllabification: a·pos·tro·phe
Pronunciation: /əˈpästrəfē
 
/

noun

Rhetoric
An exclamatory passage in a speech or poem addressed to a person (typically one who is dead or absent) or thing (typically one that is personified).
Example sentences
  • To stress apostrophe, personification, prosopopoeia, and hyperbole is to join the theorists who through the ages have emphasized what distinguishes the lyric from other speech acts, what makes it the most literary of forms.
  • Let us note, first of all, that hyperbole and apostrophe are the forms of language not only most agreeable to it but also most necessary.
  • What better trope for the undertaking than the apostrophe?

Origin

mid 16th century: via Latin from Greek apostrophē 'turning away', from apostrephein 'turn away' (see apostrophe1).

More
  • Now a punctuation mark, apostrophe originally referred to the omission of one or more letters; it comes via late Latin from Greek apostrophos ‘accent of elision’, from apostrephein ‘turn away’.

Definition of apostrophe in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.