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comma

[kom-uh] /ˈkɒm ə/
noun
1.
the sign (,), a mark of punctuation used for indicating a division in a sentence, as in setting off a word, phrase, or clause, especially when such a division is accompanied by a slight pause or is to be noted in order to give order to the sequential elements of the sentence. It is also used to separate items in a list, to mark off thousands in numerals, to separate types or levels of information in bibliographic and other data, and, in Europe, as a decimal point.
2.
Classical Prosody.
  1. a fragment or smaller section of a colon.
  2. the part of dactylic hexameter beginning or ending with the caesura.
  3. the caesura itself.
3.
Music. the minute, virtually unheard difference in pitch between two enharmonic tones, as G♯ and A♭.
4.
any of several nymphalid butterflies, as Polygonia comma, having a comma-shaped silver mark on the underside of each hind wing.
Origin of comma
1520-1530
1520-30; < Late Latin: mark of punctuation, Latin: division of a phrase < Greek kómma piece cut off (referring to the phrase so marked), equivalent to kop- (base of kóptein to strike, chop) + -ma noun suffix denoting result of action (with assimilation of p)
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for comma
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We have to insert its thin edge at a comma, or else keep still.

    The Dominant Strain Anna Chapin Ray
  • Both a comma and a colon were used and have been retained in this e-book.

    The Web of the Golden Spider

    Frederick Orin Bartlett
  • Only the first word should be capitalized and a comma is placed at the end.

  • The older form of writing an address was to end each line with a comma.

    The Etiquette of To-day Edith B. Ordway
  • A restrictive clause is not separated by a comma from the noun.

    The Verbalist Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)
  • A long subject is often separated from the predicate by a comma.

    The Verbalist Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)
  • A comma must not be placed before and when it connects two words only.

    The Verbalist Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)
  • Without a comma before or after only, the meaning of this sentence is doubtful.

    The Verbalist Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)
  • A comma must not be placed before that except when it is equivalent to in order that.

    The Verbalist Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)
British Dictionary definitions for comma

comma

/ˈkɒmə/
noun
1.
the punctuation mark(,) indicating a slight pause in the spoken sentence and used where there is a listing of items or to separate a nonrestrictive clause or phrase from a main clause
2.
(music) a minute interval
3.
short for comma butterfly
Word Origin
C16: from Latin, from Greek komma clause, from koptein to cut
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 comma
n.

1520s as a Latin word, nativized by 1590s, from Latin comma "short phrase," from Greek komma "clause in a sentence," literally "piece which is cut off," from koptein "to cut off," from PIE root *kop- "to beat, strike" (see hatchet (n.)). Like colon (n.1) and period, originally a Greek rhetorical term for a part of a sentence, and like them it has been transferred to the punctuation mark that identifies it.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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comma in Culture

comma definition


A punctuation mark (,) used to indicate pauses and to separate elements within a sentence. “The forest abounds with oak, elm, and beech trees”; “The bassoon player was born in Roanoke, Virginia, on December 29, 1957.”

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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11
14
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