[par-uh-graf, -grahf]
See more synonyms for paragraph on
  1. a distinct portion of written or printed matter dealing with a particular idea, usually beginning with an indentation on a new line.
  2. a paragraph mark.
  3. a note, item, or brief article, as in a newspaper.
verb (used with object)
  1. to divide into paragraphs.
  2. to write or publish paragraphs about, as in a newspaper.
  3. to express in a paragraph.

Origin of paragraph

1515–25; earlier paragraphe < Greek paragraphḗ marked passage; see para-1, graph
Related formspar·a·graph·ism, nounpar·a·gra·phis·ti·cal [par-uh-gruh-fis-ti-kuh l] /ˌpær ə grəˈfɪs tɪ kəl/, adjectivesub·par·a·graph, nounun·par·a·graphed, adjectivewell-par·a·graphed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for paragraph


  1. (in a piece of writing) one of a series of subsections each usually devoted to one idea and each usually marked by the beginning of a new line, indentation, increased interlinear space, etc
  2. printing the character ¶, used as a reference mark or to indicate the beginning of a new paragraph
  3. a short article in a newspaper
verb (tr)
  1. to form into paragraphs
  2. to express or report in a paragraph
Derived Formsparagraphic (ˌpærəˈɡræfɪk) or paragraphical, adjectiveparagraphically, adverb

Word Origin for paragraph

C16: from Medieval Latin paragraphus, from Greek paragraphos line drawing attention to part of a text, from paragraphein to write beside, from para- 1 + graphein to write
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 paragraph

late 15c., from Middle French paragraphe "division of text" (13c., Old French paragrafe), from Medieval Latin paragraphus "sign for start of a new section of discourse" (the sign looked something like a stylized letter -P-), from Greek paragraphos "short stroke in the margin marking a break in sense," also "a passage so marked," literally "anything written beside," from paragraphein "write by the side," from para- "beside" (see para- (1)) + graphein "to write" (see -graphy).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

paragraph in Culture


A basic unit of prose. It is usually composed of several sentences that together develop one central idea. The main sentence in a paragraph is called the topic sentence.

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.