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  1. Also called diacritical mark. a mark, point, or sign added or attached to a letter or character to distinguish it from another of similar form, to give it a particular phonetic value, to indicate stress, etc., as a cedilla, tilde, circumflex, or macron.

Origin of diacritic

1670–80; < Greek diakritikós distinctive, equivalent to dia- dia- + kritikós; see critic
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Historical Examples of diacritic

British Dictionary definitions for diacritic


  1. Also called: diacritical mark a sign placed above or below a character or letter to indicate that it has a different phonetic value, is stressed, or for some other reason
  1. another word for diacritical

Word Origin for diacritic

C17: from Greek diakritikos serving to distinguish, from diakrinein, from dia- + krinein to separate
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 diacritic

1690s, of sounds, from Greek diakritikos "that separates or distinguishes," from diakrinein "to separate one from another," from dia- (see dia-) + krinein "to separate, decide, judge" (see crisis). As a noun, from 1866. Related: Diacritical.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

diacritic in Medicine


  1. Diagnostic or distinctive.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.