Definition of phrase in English:


Syllabification: phrase
Pronunciation: /frāz


  • 1A small group of words standing together as a conceptual unit, typically forming a component of a clause.
    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.
    expression, group of words, construction, locution, term, turn of phrase; idiom, idiomatic expression; saying, tag
  • 1.1An idiomatic or short pithy expression: his favorite 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.
    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.
    More 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.


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  • 1Put into a particular form of words: it’s important to phrase the question correctly
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    • 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.
    express, put into words, put, word, style, formulate, couch, frame, articulate, verbalize
  • 1.1Divide (music) into phrases in a particular way, especially in performance: (as noun phrasing) 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.


turn of phrase

A manner of expression: an awkward 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.
expression, idiom, phrase, term, word, aphorism


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

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