Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

parenthesis

[puh-ren-thuh-sis]
See more synonyms for parenthesis on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural pa·ren·the·ses [puh-ren-thuh-seez] /pəˈrɛn θəˌsiz/.
  1. either or both of a pair of signs ( ) used in writing to mark off an interjected explanatory or qualifying remark, to indicate separate groupings of symbols in mathematics and symbolic logic, etc.
  2. Usually parentheses. the material contained within these marks.
  3. Grammar. a qualifying, explanatory, or appositive word, phrase, clause, or sentence that interrupts a syntactic construction without otherwise affecting it, having often a characteristic intonation and indicated in writing by commas, parentheses, or dashes, as in William Smith—you must know him—is coming tonight.
  4. an interval.
Show More

Origin of parenthesis

1560–70; < Late Latin < Greek parénthesis a putting in beside. See par-, en-2, thesis
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for parentheses

footnote, excursus, divagation, aside, note, deviation, incident, divergence, detour, variation, divergency, diversion, tangent, difference, episode, departure, irrelevancy, wandering, excursion, deflection

Examples from the Web for parentheses

Contemporary Examples of parentheses

Historical Examples of parentheses

  • The number of instances of each word are given in parentheses.

  • In the terms of venation, these parentheses occur most frequently.

  • Dashes are much used where parentheses were formerly employed.

    The Verbalist

    Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)

  • If the connection of such expressions is remote, parentheses are used.

    Punctuation

    Frederick W. Hamilton

  • If used at all with the parentheses, it should follow the closing parenthesis.

    Punctuation

    Frederick W. Hamilton


British Dictionary definitions for parentheses

parenthesis

noun plural -ses (-ˌsiːz)
  1. a phrase, often explanatory or qualifying, inserted into a passage with which it is not grammatically connected, and marked off by brackets, dashes, etc
  2. Also called: bracket either of a pair of characters, (), used to enclose such a phrase or as a sign of aggregation in mathematical or logical expressions
  3. an intervening occurrence; interlude; interval
  4. in parenthesis inserted as a parenthesis
Show More
Derived Formsparenthetic (ˌpærənˈθɛtɪk) or parenthetical, adjectiveparenthetically, adverb

Word Origin for parenthesis

C16: via Late Latin from Greek: something placed in besides, from parentithenai, from para- 1 + en- ² + tithenai to put
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 parentheses

parenthesis

n.

1540s, "words, clauses, etc. inserted into a sentence," from Middle French parenthèse (15c.), from Late Latin parenthesis "addition of a letter to a syllable in a word," from Greek parenthesis, literally "a putting in beside," from parentithenai "put in beside," from para- "beside" (see para- (1)) + en- "in" + tithenai "put, place," from PIE root *dhe- "to put, to do" (see factitious). Sense extension by 1715 from the inserted words to the curved brackets that indicate the words inserted.

A wooden parenthesis; the pillory. An iron parenthesis; a prison. ["Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit and Pickpocket Eloquence," London, 1811]
Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

parentheses in Culture

parentheses

Punctuation marks — ( ) — used to separate elements in a sentence. Parentheses subordinate (see subordination) the material within them so that readers save most of their attention for the rest of the sentence: “Aunt Sarah (who is really my mother's cousin) will be visiting next week.”

Show More
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.