Definition of punctuation in US English:



  • 1The marks, such as period, comma, and parentheses, used in writing to separate sentences and their elements and to clarify meaning.

    • ‘It reviews the parts of speech and teaches the parts of a sentence and punctuation.’
    • ‘Attention to grammar, punctuation, spelling and style is expected.’
    • ‘He stood straight up from his task on the deck of his boat, a mark of punctuation for his words.’
    • ‘Team leaders randomly listen into calls to assess the emotions conveyed, accent, alertness, grammar and punctuation.’
    • ‘The comma thing does make me aware how much I use punctuation in general and commas specifically for intonation in my writing.’
    • ‘I will insist on writing in proper sentences and using proper punctuation.’
    • ‘Be careful about your use of punctuation, particularly exclamation points.’
    • ‘I've never liked putting closing punctuation inside quotation marks.’
    • ‘It was obviously a well thought out text, it even had punctuation - well a full stop.’
    • ‘I support and uphold the norms of standard written English in spelling, punctuation, word usage and grammar.’
    • ‘The grammar and punctuation in these messages is appalling, and the spelling is what I've come to expect from the comprehensive system these days.’
    • ‘There are no back slashes nor punctuation to mark the end of the assignment.’
    • ‘Now with the typed word and quick messages, that measure is simply the ability to use proper grammar and punctuation.’
    • ‘As a former teacher I can state that verbal literacy did not come from numerous lessons in grammar, punctuation, spelling and usage.’
    • ‘In the realm of punctuation, a comma is used for a brief pause, a semicolon for a more moderate pause, and a period as a full stop.’
    • ‘Winter might last only one day - a minor punctuation in a long sentence of heat.’
    • ‘However, the reverse is not true: if a spoken text is written down, the position of many tone-group boundaries cannot be marked by punctuation.’
    • ‘Of course the rules of grammar and punctuation add to an understanding of the text, that can't be denied.’
    • ‘Sadly these days, the problem is not really just one of bad punctuation but of bad writing in general.’
    • ‘The writing collapses into incoherent ranting, lacking grammar or punctuation.’
    punctuation marks, points
    View synonyms
  • 2Biology
    Rapid or sudden speciation, as posited by the theory of punctuated equilibrium.


Mid 17th century: from medieval Latin punctuatio(n-), from the verb punctuare (see punctuate).