Definition of punctuate in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpʌŋ(k)tʃʊeɪt/


[with object]
1Insert punctuation marks in (text): they should be shown how to set out and punctuate direct speech [no object]: style manuals tell you how to punctuate
More example sentences
  • Journalists at the press conference questioned the feasibility of this project, and The Beijing News punctuates the headline of its article with a question mark.
  • I bet he had no idea when he sent in his badly spelled and badly punctuated letter that he would be ordered to cut off his hands and bleed over the keyboard.
  • She answered in a fluently written letter punctuated by dashes about the death of her husband.
add punctuation to, put punctuation marks in, dot
archaic point, apostrophize, accentuate
2Occur at intervals throughout (an area or period): the country’s history has been punctuated by coups
More example sentences
  • War is sometimes described as long periods of boredom punctuated by short moments of excitement.
  • Three dozen illustrations punctuate Stokes's reissued text of 1934.
  • At Nili's bedside, she reads her latest novel, extracts of which punctuate the text.
2.1 (punctuate something with) Interrupt or intersperse something with: she punctuates her conversation with snatches of song
More example sentences
  • Sarah hated how her life was punctuated with ‘buts‘.
  • The same what the hell attitude returns on ‘Out-Side,’ a song where lyrics about dogs and trains are punctuated with cheap sound effects.’
  • I can still hear his rhythmic South American accent in my mind - soft ‘r's, long vowels - and see him punctuating his words with his hands.
break up, interrupt, intersperse, pepper, sprinkle, scatter, strew, dot


Mid 17th century (in the sense 'point out'): from medieval Latin punctuat- 'brought to a point', from the verb punctuare, from punctum 'a point'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: punc¦tu|ate

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