- 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
- 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
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]