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[puhngk-choo-eyt] /ˈpʌŋk tʃuˌeɪt/
verb (used with object), punctuated, punctuating.
to mark or divide (something written) with punctuation marks in order to make the meaning clear.
to interrupt at intervals:
Cheers punctuated the mayor's speech.
to give emphasis or force to; emphasize; underline.
verb (used without object), punctuated, punctuating.
to insert or use marks of punctuation.
Origin of punctuate
1625-35; < Medieval Latin pūnctuātus (past participle of pūnctuāre to point), derivative of Latin pūnctus a pricking; see punctual
Related forms
punctuator, noun
nonpunctuating, adjective
repunctuate, verb (used with object), repunctuated, repunctuating.
unpunctuated, adjective
unpunctuating, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for punctuate
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Hattie began rocking, in a rapid staccato, to punctuate her speech.

    Tiverton Tales Alice Brown
  • In such cases the compositor should punctuate as he goes along.

    Punctuation Frederick W. Hamilton
  • There we punctuate the full stop to our inquiries; we have the secret.

  • He banged the table with his riding-crop to punctuate the emphasis.

    The Ghost Breaker Charles Goddard
  • When a writer does not know how to punctuate his own language at any point he uses a dash.

    Why We Punctuate William Livingston Klein
  • Noiselessly, one by one, the stars came out to punctuate the heavens.

    Urania Camille Flammarion
  • He thought: "He must punctuate his every phrase with that hideous laughter."

British Dictionary definitions for punctuate


verb (mainly transitive)
(also intransitive) to insert punctuation marks into (a written text)
to interrupt or insert at frequent intervals: a meeting punctuated by heckling
to give emphasis to
Derived Forms
punctuator, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Medieval Latin punctuāre to prick, from Latin punctum a prick, from pungere to puncture
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 punctuate

1630s, "to point out," from Medieval Latin punctuatus, past participle of punctuare, from Latin punctus (see point (n.)). Meaning in reference to text, "to have pauses or stops indicated," is from 1818, probably a back-formation from punctuation. Hence, "interrupted at intervals" (1833). Related: Punctuated; punctuating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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