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comma

[kom-uh]
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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.
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Origin of comma

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for comma

interval, mark, punctuation

Examples from the Web for comma

Contemporary Examples of comma

Historical Examples of comma


British Dictionary definitions for comma

comma

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
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Word Origin for comma

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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

comma in Culture

comma

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.”

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