Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[puh-ren-thuh-sis] /pəˈrɛn θə sɪs/
noun, plural parentheses
[puh-ren-thuh-seez] /pəˈrɛn θəˌsiz/ (Show IPA)
either or both of a pair of signs () used in writing to mark off an interjected explanatory or qualifying remark, to indicate separate groupings of symbols in mathematics and symbolic logic, etc.
Usually, parentheses. the material contained within these marks.
Grammar. a qualifying, explanatory, or appositive word, phrase, clause, or sentence that interrupts a syntactic construction without otherwise affecting it, having often a characteristic intonation and indicated in writing by commas, parentheses, or dashes, as in William Smith—you must know him—is coming tonight.
an interval.
Origin of parenthesis
1560-70; < Late Latin < Greek parénthesis a putting in beside. See par-, en-2, thesis Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for parenthesis
Contemporary Examples
  • “When you have a food label and see quite a lot of parenthesis—first tip that your food may be highly fabricated,” she says.

Historical Examples
  • "Then that's where one gets left," Bobby commented, by way of parenthesis.

    The Dominant Strain Anna Chapin Ray
  • At the end of the chosen one there is a letter in parenthesis ( ).

  • Mrs. Black, astonished but imperturbable, bowed at this parenthesis.

  • Observe also that the comma in the first example is placed after, not before, the parenthesis.


    Paul Allardyce
  • The italic form of parenthesis is objectionable in book work.

    Punctuation Frederick W. Hamilton
  • Distinction is sought for the word in italic and not for the parenthesis enclosing the word.

    Punctuation Frederick W. Hamilton
  • To avoid the confusion caused by a parenthesis within a parenthesis.

    Punctuation Frederick W. Hamilton
  • What is the distinction in use between the bracket and the parenthesis?

    Punctuation Frederick W. Hamilton
  • The parenthesis in the description of this view has been spoken of.

British Dictionary definitions for parenthesis


noun (pl) -ses (-ˌsiːz)
a phrase, often explanatory or qualifying, inserted into a passage with which it is not grammatically connected, and marked off by brackets, dashes, etc
Also called bracket. either of a pair of characters, (), used to enclose such a phrase or as a sign of aggregation in mathematical or logical expressions
an intervening occurrence; interlude; interval
in parenthesis, inserted as a parenthesis
Derived Forms
parenthetic (ˌpærənˈθɛtɪk), parenthetical, adjective
parenthetically, adverb
Word Origin
C16: via Late Latin from Greek: something placed in besides, from parentithenai, from para-1 + en-² + tithenai to put
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for parenthesis

1540s, "words, clauses, etc. inserted into a sentence," from Middle French parenthèse (15c.), from Late Latin parenthesis "addition of a letter to a syllable in a word," from Greek parenthesis, literally "a putting in beside," from parentithenai "put in beside," from para- "beside" (see para- (1)) + en- "in" + tithenai "put, place," from PIE root *dhe- "to put, to do" (see factitious). Sense extension by 1715 from the inserted words to the curved brackets that indicate the words inserted.

A wooden parenthesis; the pillory. An iron parenthesis; a prison. ["Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit and Pickpocket Eloquence," London, 1811]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for parenthesis

Word Value for parenthesis

Scrabble Words With Friends