Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Acronyms, Idioms, Wikipedia.
Related to parenthesis: parentheses


Parentheses ( ( ) ) are used to separate information that is not necessary to the structure or meaning of the surrounding text.
Continue reading...


punctuation [Lat.,=point], the use of special signs in writing to clarify how words are used; the term also refers to the signs themselves. In every language, besides the sounds of the words that are strung together there are other features, such as tone, accent, and pauses, that are equally significant (see grammar and phonetics). In English, stress, pausing, and tonal changes interlock in a set of patterns often called intonations. Such features are represented by punctuation, indicated by signs inserted usually between words, and often following the feature they mark.

The intonations of declaration are classified in three types, symbolized by the comma (,), used to separate words or phrases for clarity; the semicolon (;), used to mark separation between elements in a series of related phrases, generally in a long sentence; and the full stop, or period (.), used to mark the end of a sentence. Other intonations are shown by the exclamation point (!); the interrogation point, or question mark (?); the parenthesis [( )], used to set off a word or phrase from a sentence that is complete without it; and the colon (:), typically used to introduce material that elaborates on what has already been said. Quotation marks (“ ”) indicate direct quotation or some borrowing, and usually demand special intonation. The ellipsis (…) is used to indicate the place in a passage where material has been omitted or a thought has trailed off. The long dash (—) is especially used in handwriting for incomplete intonation patterns.

Punctuation of material intended to be read silently rather than aloud—the far more usual case today—has introduced refinements designed to help the reader: brackets ([ ]), a secondary parenthesis; capital letters; paragraphing; and indentation. Two other frequent signs are the apostrophe ('), marking an omission of one or two letters, or a possessive case, and the hyphen (-), marking a line division or an intimate joining, as in compound words. These last two are practically extra letters, and their use, belonging with spelling rather than with punctuation, is highly arbitrary.

Each written language has its tradition of punctuation, often very different from that used in English; thus, in German nouns are capitalized, and in Spanish the beginnings of exclamations and of questions are marked with inverted signs. See also accent.


See W. D. Drake, The Way to Punctuate (1971); Words into Type (3d ed. 1974); D. Hacker, A Writer's Reference (4th ed. 1999); Univ. of Chicago Press, The Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed. 2003).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


The left parenthesis "(" and right parenthesis ")" are used to delineate one expression from another. For example, in the query list for size="34" and (color = "red" or color ="green"), parentheses group the ORs together so they are a distinct entity from the AND.

In programming, parentheses are used to surround input parameters of a function call. For example, in C, the string compare statement strnicmp (itemA, itemB, 10) uses parentheses to group the ITEMA, ITEMB and 10 values handed over to the function.
Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.
References in periodicals archive ?
When a parenthesis of a height exceeding the highest stand-alone parenthesis is needed, (LA)TEX uses a compound parenthesis based on three characters: [mathematical expression not reproducible].
WNO has also been working in partnership with Helen Woods and Gritty Realism Digital Animation Company to run a series of sessions known as In Parenthesis Teach in primary schools in South and West Wales to introduce children to opera and the themes of In Parenthesis, such as poverty, morality, identity and community.
i()t) But these fairly straight usages are limited, bound by the limited representational potential of the parenthesis mark itself.
She also identifies parenthesis initiated by a number of time co-ordinates (bayom hahu, ba'et hahi', etc.).
We associate with each parenthesis a bit in the same order than of S.
Through the Arts & Business investment programme, New Partners, employees from Parenthesis were able to work alongside renowned digital artists .
Listed alphabetically with the director in parenthesis.
While Fussell is most concerned with irony, he does examine some works that incorporate mythological material, like David Jones's epic poem In Parenthesis, and notes Northrop Frye's conclusion that in the cycle of literary styles, the ironic mode "moves steadily towards myth, and the dim outlines of sacrificial rituals and dying gods begin to reappear in it" (Frye 42).
Names in parenthesis are popular street names' of each drug.
Miller's life is like a parenthesis embracing this disastrous decline and shaky rehabilitation.
Available storyboards (with test facilities/leaders in parenthesis) include: "Mold Media Thermo-Physical Properties" (K+P Agile, Inc.); "Quality Improvement Expert System" (AFS Committee 4E); "Gating of Aluminum Permanent Molds II" (Case Western Reserve Univ.); "Heat Transfer (Sand)" (Univ.
More than any other British response to the Great War, In Parenthesis (1937) brings a consciousness of the past to bear upon the events it relates.