Share this entry

Share this page

phrase

Line breaks: phrase
Pronunciation: /freɪz
 
/

Definition of phrase in English:

noun

1A small group of words standing together as a conceptual unit, typically forming a component of a clause: ‘to improve standards’ is the key phrase here
More example sentences
  • Moreoever the rest of the lines explain and expand these references by using adjectival phrases and subordinate clauses which tell the reader to look for explanation within the poem itself.
  • Like other adverbial words and phrases, nevertheless floats around under the joint influence of meaning, syntax and style, but it usually washes up at the start of a clause.
  • Associated with these tendencies was a greater focus on single words, rather than on phrases or clauses.
Synonyms
expression, group of words, word group, construction, clause, locution, wording, term, turn of phrase, idiom, idiomatic expression, set phrase, phrasal idiom, phrasal verb;
remark, comment, saying, utterance, witticism, tag;
quotation, quote, citation;
line, sentence
1.1An idiomatic or short pithy expression: his favourite phrase is ‘it’s a pleasure
More example sentences
  • You will develop a flair for short, pithy phrases that will identify you as the writer, whether your byline is published or your story is magically morphed into a brief.
  • It might not be a bad idea to review your own favorite phrases and expressions occasionally and replace them with fresh variations.
  • And the connection is a pithy phrase of Deputy Noonan's dating back to the 1987 election campaign.
1.2 Music A group of notes forming a distinct unit within a longer passage: the succession of downward phrases in the orchestra is so moving
More example sentences
  • The musicians could tell an out-of-tune note within a musical phrase, and the Chinese could understand their language when the words were spoken in a sentence.
  • It also is an excellent way of testing our students' memories; if they can recite or sing the note names of a phrase in rhythm, we can be sure the music is in their heads and not just in their fingers.
  • A note, a phrase, or a section of music has embodied meaning, because it points to and makes us expect another musical (not extramusical) event.
1.3 Ballet A group of steps within a longer sequence or dance.
Example sentences
  • The dance occurred on two split-level stages and is a sequence of exciting, unexpected dance phrases.
  • True, he sometimes over-restricts himself to the point that you worry his warehouse of steps and phrases is understocked.
  • Unlike many ballet choreographers, Webre allows his dancers to develop movement phrases through improvisation.

verb

[with object and adverbial] Back to top  
1Put into a particular form of words: it’s important to phrase the question correctly
More example sentences
  • Katherine tried to find the correct words in which to phrase her question.
  • It is my fault, I did not phrase the question correctly.
  • The archbishop phrased his words with care, as is his way.
Synonyms
express, put into words, put, word, style, formulate, couch, frame, set forth, utter, say, tell, articulate, verbalize, communicate, convey, get/put across
1.1 (often as noun phrasing) Divide (music) into phrases in a particular way, especially in performance: original phrasing brought out unexpected aspects of the music
More example sentences
  • Selim Palmgren's works for solo piano evoke a similar atmosphere, and somehow Finnish pianists understand perfectly how to phrase his music.
  • Witt's music is strongly Mozartian in phrasing and flavor, so much so that he sometimes sounds like a clone of the famous composer.
  • You can assess how much expression to give, and how to phrase the music in the absence of score markings.

Origin

mid 16th century (in the sense 'style or manner of expression'): via late Latin from Greek phrasis, from phrazein 'declare, tell'.

Phrases

turn of phrase

1
A person’s particular or characteristic manner of expression: a vituperative turn of phrase
More example sentences
  • Merchant - his real name was Dennis Williams - who wrote the lyrics to many of Ray's compositions, had an elegant turn of phrase, a genuine concern for his fellow man, and endless energy.
  • I haven't read the book so can't comment on its contents beyond noting in passing that Fallaci seems to court controversy and has an ugly turn of phrase.
  • You know, anybody can use an unfortunate turn of phrase.
Synonyms

Definition of phrase 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.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day resilient
Pronunciation: rɪˈzɪlɪənt
adjective
able to recoil or spring back into shape…