Main definitions of apostrophe in English

: apostrophe1apostrophe2

apostrophe1

noun

  • A punctuation mark (') used to indicate either possession (e.g. Harry's book; boys' coats) or the omission of letters or numbers (e.g. can't; he's; 1 Jan. '99).

    • ‘The use of an apostrophe here indicates a contraction of ‘it is’ or ‘it has,’ which would make little sense in the context of this banner.’
    • ‘This book's a success, it's true, even though it's about commas, apostrophes, colons, dashes and other marks.’
    • ‘But even users of low-end databases can benefit from using placeholders because they ensure strings will be quoted correctly, even if they contain quotation marks or apostrophes.’
    • ‘However, because he didn't know how to use the possessive apostrophe, it became known simply as ‘French toast’.’
    • ‘Use an apostrophe to indicate a missing letter or contracted word.’
    • ‘The alphabet was created with not only the familiar lettering of English but also with periods, underlines on letters, and apostrophes to distinguish particular sounds.’
    • ‘Still others prefer a middle option that keeps the apostrophe for omission and elision but drops it for plurality and possession.’
    • ‘The meaning of a word is never unclear because an apostrophe has been misused, a fact that ought to be self evident since spoken language seems to get along just fine even though it has never evolved a verbal cue to indicate an apostrophe.’
    • ‘Out of respect for the opinions of others, I try to use apostrophes and commas correctly, but I'm less interested in the details of punctuation than in nearly any other topic I can think of.’
    • ‘In fact, using its with an apostrophe in its possessive sense sits uncomfortably within the orbit of ‘applied excellence’.’
    • ‘When the possessor is single we indicate possession by using an apostrophe followed by the letter ‘s’ - ‘The man's coat’.’
    • ‘My advice, then, is this - if in doubt about whether to use an apostrophe to form a possessive, put it in; but if in doubt whether to use one to form a plural, leave it out.’
    • ‘But the evidence shows that possessive apostrophes have been dropping like flies for years.’
    • ‘If you've ever despaired over the misuses and misunderstandings, and just plain apathy around punctuation these days (errant apostrophes et al.) then this book will delight you.’
    • ‘There's an unconfirmed rumor floating that as a sophomore he placed an apostrophe before the last letter of a word that ended in ‘s.’’
    • ‘For what it's worth, the offending sign uses an apostrophe to suggest the possessive of a singular noun instead of the plural intention.’
    • ‘The concept of the possessive apostrophe appears to have evaded his fine mind.’
    • ‘The playwrights' experimental use of English (including the absence of capital letters, apostrophes, punctuation, etc.) is one way in which they resist oppression.’
    • ‘I firstly must congratulate the author for managing to use an apostrophe of possession correctly, because I don't think I could have got past the first page for worrying about it if she hadn't.’
    • ‘I assume that I have that correct, as it is many grocers who have apostrophes and therefore the apostrophe goes after the s which indicates the plural.’
    leaving out, exclusion, exception, non-inclusion, deletion, erasure, cut, excision, elimination, absence
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Usage

Many people are uncertain when to use an apostrophe, and this confusion is probably increased by the fact that it is often omitted in company names (e.g. Barclays Bank). The apostrophe should be used when indicating possession (Sue's cat) or the omission of letters or numbers (he's gone, 1 Jan. '09). It should not be used in forming the plural of ordinary words, as in apple's and pear's or I saw two dog's, or in possessive pronouns such as hers, yours, or theirs. See also its

Origin

Mid 16th century (denoting the omission of one or more letters): via late Latin, from Greek apostrophos accent of elision, from apostrephein turn away, from apo from + strephein to turn.

Pronunciation

apostrophe

/əˈpɒstrəfi/

Main definitions of apostrophe in English

: apostrophe1apostrophe2

apostrophe2

noun

Rhetoric
  • An exclamatory passage in a speech or poem addressed to a person (typically one who is dead or absent) or thing (typically one that is personified).

    • ‘Let us note, first of all, that hyperbole and apostrophe are the forms of language not only most agreeable to it but also most necessary.’
    • ‘Further, the use of apostrophe in the form of direct addresses to the saints creates the impression of direct communication.’
    • ‘To stress apostrophe, personification, prosopopoeia, and hyperbole is to join the theorists who through the ages have emphasized what distinguishes the lyric from other speech acts, what makes it the most literary of forms.’
    • ‘Opening with an apostrophe to the Queen, the poet wastes no time in presenting her with the image of Mother France being captured, stripped, and beaten by her own children.’
    • ‘What better trope for the undertaking than the apostrophe?’
    deviation, detour, diversion, departure, excursus
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Origin

Mid 16th century: via Latin from Greek apostrophē turning away, from apostrephein turn away (see apostrophe).

Pronunciation

apostrophe

/əˈpɒstrəfi/