[ kom-uh ]
See synonyms for comma on
  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 many European countries, as a decimal point.

  2. Classical Prosody.

    • a fragment or smaller section of a colon.

    • the part of dactylic hexameter beginning or ending with the caesura.

    • the caesura itself.

  1. Music. the minute, virtually unheard difference in pitch between two enharmonic tones, as G♯ and A♭.

  2. any of several nymphalid butterflies, including the North American Polygonia comma, having a comma-shaped silver mark on the underside of each hindwing.

Origin of comma

First recorded in 1520–30; from Late Latin: “mark of punctuation,” Latin: “division of a phrase,” from Greek kómma “piece cut off” (referring to the phrase so marked), equivalent to kop- (base of kóptein “to cut, gnaw, strike”) + -ma, noun suffix

Words Nearby comma Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use comma in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for comma


/ (ˈkɒmə) /

  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

  1. short for comma butterfly

Origin of 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

Cultural definitions for 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.”

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.