Definition of punctuation in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌpəNG(k)(t)SHəˈwāSH(ə)n/


1The marks, such as period, comma, and parentheses, used in writing to separate sentences and their elements and to clarify meaning.
Example sentences
  • I've never liked putting closing punctuation inside quotation marks.
  • However, the reverse is not true: if a spoken text is written down, the position of many tone-group boundaries cannot be marked by punctuation.
  • The comma thing does make me aware how much I use punctuation in general and commas specifically for intonation in my writing.
2 Biology Rapid or sudden speciation, as posited by the theory of punctuated equilibrium.



Pronunciation: /-SHənl/
Example sentences
  • How private worry about hyphens or apostrophes will so often turn a person into a punctuational avenging marauder, a ruthless grammatical Genghis Khan.
  • Please do not print this letter in your magazine. I do not wish for my, how you say, inelegant grammar, odd punctuational choices, and inadequate vocabulary to be snickered at by your discerning readership.
  • If lineages can be found, that is evidence for gradualistic evolution; if lineages cannot be found, then that is evidence for punctuational evolution. ‘Heads we win; tails you lose’!


Mid 17th century: from medieval Latin punctuatio(n-), from the verb punctuare (see punctuate).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: punc·tu·a·tion

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