the punctuation mark (;) used to indicate a major division in a sentence where a more distinct separation is felt between clauses or items on a list than is indicated by a comma, as between the two clauses of a compound sentence.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use semicolon in a sentence
Author Jerome Klinkowitz, who has written several books about Vonnegut, believes that Lawrence may well not have changed as much as a semicolon of the manuscript.What Early Drafts of Slaughterhouse-Five Reveal About Kurt Vonnegut's Struggles | Tom Roston | November 11, 2021 | Time
I point out the phrase “more distinct separation,” and I suggest that the purpose of the semicolon is at least in part rhythmic.
The new material contains a semicolon; it has orders to call me if anybody gives it any trouble.
The semicolon is used in enumerations, as in the last example, in order to keep the parts more distinctly separate.
The colon is used to indicate pauses more abrupt than those indicated by the semicolon.
A pause generally indicated by a comma may be indicated by a semicolon when commas are used in the sentence for other purposes.
If the conjunction "and" were inserted in the last sentence, the comma would be used instead of the semicolon.
Of course, this rule must be qualified by the rules for the stronger points, especially by those for the semicolon and the colon.
British Dictionary definitions for semicolon
the punctuation mark (;) used to indicate a pause intermediate in value or length between that of a comma and that of a full stop
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
Cultural definitions for semicolon
A punctuation mark (;) used to join two independent clauses in a sentence. The semicolon shows that the ideas in the two clauses are related: “Jack really didn't mind being left without a car; he had the house to himself.”
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.