Definition of placeholder in English:



  • 1Mathematics
    A significant zero in the decimal representation of a number.

    • ‘The use of zero as a placeholder was probably first developed by the Babylonians, possibly as early as 1500 BCE.’
    • ‘It emphasises the use of zero as a placeholder.’
    1. 1.1A symbol or piece of text used in a mathematical expression or in an instruction in a computer program to denote a missing quantity or operator.
      • ‘With the Impress files created, I needed to replace my graphic image placeholders with the actual image.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The HTML files contain placeholders for data that will be substituted in at runtime.’
      • ‘Notice how we use DBI's placeholders, shown here as a question mark in the list of VALUES, to avoid potential problems with quoted strings within our SQL query.’
      • ‘Not only does this reduce the risk of someone messing with our SQL, but some database drivers will take advantage of our placeholders in subsequent queries, giving us a speed boost.’
  • 2Linguistics
    An element of a sentence that is required by syntactic constraints but carries little or no semantic information, for example the word it as a subject in it is a pity that she left, where the true subject is that she left.

    • ‘The it in suffice it to say is an impersonal or indefinite pronoun, one that functions as a grammatical placeholder without supplying much real meaning.’
    • ‘According to this model, readers process text in parallel at several levels of analysis, which mesh the ease of identification with the role of function words as structural placeholders.’