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apostrophe1

[uh-pos-truh-fee] /əˈpɒs trə fi/
noun
1.
the sign ('), as used: to indicate the omission of one or more letters in a word, whether unpronounced, as in o'er for over, or pronounced, as in gov't for government; to indicate the possessive case, as in man's; or to indicate plurals of abbreviations and symbols, as in several M.D.'s, 3's.
Origin of apostrophe1
1580-1590
1580-90; < Middle French (with pronunciation later altered by confusion with apostrophe2), replacing earlier apostrophus < Late Latin (> Middle French) < Greek apóstrophos (prosōidía) eliding (mark), literally, (mark) of turning away, verbid of apostréphein to turn away, equivalent to apo- apo- + stréphein to turn; see strophe
Related forms
apostrophic
[ap-uh-strof-ik, -stroh-fik] /ˌæp əˈstrɒf ɪk, -ˈstroʊ fɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective

apostrophe2

[uh-pos-truh-fee] /əˈpɒs trə fi/
noun, Rhetoric.
1.
a digression in the form of an address to someone not present, or to a personified object or idea, as “O Death, where is thy sting?”.
Origin
1525-35; < Late Latin < Greek apostrophḗ a turning away, equivalent to apostroph- (verbid of apostréphein; see apostrophe1) + noun suffix
Related forms
apostrophic
[ap-uh-strof-ik, -stroh-fik] /ˌæp əˈstrɒf ɪk, -ˈstroʊ fɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for apostrophe
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The apostrophe to the heroism of the soldiers is sickly and pale.

  • Bobinette did not seem to understand one word of this apostrophe.

    A Nest of Spies Pierre Souvestre
  • And he added the apostrophe, "What a revolutionary torrent is the Loire!"

  • The apostrophe is used to indicate that some letter or letters of a word are left out.

    "Stops"

    Paul Allardyce
  • The mark for the apostrophe; and also the marks for inverted commas.

    "Stops"

    Paul Allardyce
  • The letter "s" is added, and the apostrophe is placed before it.

    "Stops"

    Paul Allardyce
  • If the plural do not end in "s," an "s" is added, and the apostrophe is placed before it.

    "Stops"

    Paul Allardyce
  • The apostrophe is used before the "s" of the plural when single letters are used as words.

    "Stops"

    Paul Allardyce
British Dictionary definitions for apostrophe

apostrophe1

/əˈpɒstrəfɪ/
noun
1.
the punctuation mark ' used to indicate the omission of a letter or number, such as he's for he has or he is, also used in English to form the possessive, as in John's father and twenty pounds' worth
Word Origin
C17: from Late Latin, from Greek apostrophos mark of elision, from apostrephein to turn away

apostrophe2

/əˈpɒstrəfɪ/
noun
1.
(rhetoric) a digression from a discourse, esp an address to an imaginary or absent person or a personification
Derived Forms
apostrophic (ˌæpəˈstrɒfɪk) adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Latin apostrophē, from Greek: a turning away, digression
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for apostrophe
n.

mark indicating omitted letter, 1580s, from Middle French apostrophe, from Late Latin apostrophus, from Greek apostrophos (prosoidia) "(the accent of) turning away," thus, a mark showing where a letter has been omitted, from apostrephein "avert, turn away," from apo- "from" (see apo-) + strephein "to turn" (see strophe).

In English, the mark often represents loss of -e- in -es, possessive ending. It was being extended to all possessives, whether they ever had an -e- or not, by 18c. Greek also used this word for a "turning aside" of an orator in speech to address some individual, a sense first recorded in English 1530s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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apostrophe in Culture
apostrophe [(uh-pos-truh-fee)]

A mark (') used with a noun or pronoun to indicate possession (“the student's comment,” “the people's choice”) or in a contraction to show where letters have been left out (isn't, don't, we'll).

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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