[ puhngk-choo-ey-shuh n ]
/ ˌpʌŋk tʃuˈeɪ ʃən /


the practice or system of using certain conventional marks or characters in writing or printing in order to separate elements and make the meaning clear, as in ending a sentence or separating clauses.
the act of punctuating.
punctuation marks.

Origin of punctuation

1530–40; < Medieval Latin pūnctuātiōn- (stem of pūnctuātiō) a marking, pointing. See punctuate, -ion
Related formspunc·tu·a·tion·al, punc·tu·a·tive, adjectivenon·punc·tu·a·tion, nounre·punc·tu·a·tion, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for punctuation

British Dictionary definitions for punctuation


/ (ˌpʌŋktjʊˈeɪʃən) /


the use of symbols not belonging to the alphabet of a writing system to indicate aspects of the intonation and meaning not otherwise conveyed in the written language
the symbols used for this purpose
the act or an instance of punctuating
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 punctuation



1530s, "pointing of the psalms," from Medieval Latin punctuationem (nominative punctuatio) "a marking with points," noun of action from past participle stem of punctuare "to mark with points or dots," from Latin punctus "a prick" (see point (n.)). Meaning "system of inserting pauses in written matter" is recorded from 1660s.

[P]unctuation is cold notation; it is not frustrated speech; it is typographic code. [Robert Bringhurst, "The Elements of Typographic Style," 2004]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper