Stories We Like: A Guide to the Comma


[toht-l] /ˈtoʊt l/
constituting or comprising the whole; entire; whole:
the total expenditure.
of or pertaining to the whole of something:
the total effect of a play.
complete in extent or degree; absolute; unqualified; utter:
a total failure.
involving all aspects, elements, participants, resources, etc.; unqualified; all-out:
total war.
the total amount; sum; aggregate:
a total of $200.
the whole; an entirety:
the impressive total of Mozart's achievement.
verb (used with object), totaled, totaling or (especially British) totalled, totalling.
to bring to a total; add up.
to reach a total of; amount to.
Slang. to wreck or demolish completely:
He totaled his new car in the accident.
verb (used without object), totaled, totaling or (especially British) totalled, totalling.
to amount (often followed by to).
1350-1400; Middle English (adj.) < Medieval Latin tōtālis, equivalent to Latin tōt(us) entire + -ālis -al1
Related forms
quasi-total, adjective
quasi-totally, adverb
retotal, verb (used with object), retotaled, retotaling or (especially British) retotalled, retotalling, noun
supertotal, noun
untotaled, adjective
untotalled, adjective
1. complete. 5, 6. gross, totality. 6. See whole. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for total
  • The distributions of the scholars from the top-six ranking countries and the total number are shown in the figure.
  • Complete and total anarchy, where anyone can do anything, also doesn't work.
  • total laryngectomy is major surgery that is done in the hospital.
  • The result is that almost two-thirds of the university's total tuition revenue comes from one-third of its students.
  • Corporation taxes are only part of the total levy on businesses.
  • The full moon is plunging into the longest and deepest total lunar eclipse in more than a decade.
  • Thus game console usage is an even smaller part of the total picture than this article pretends.
  • To do it properly required a total understanding of the art and culture that gave rise to particular modes of writing.
  • About half of the total stock would die each year of natural causes even if no fishing occurred.
  • Most rumors have put the total number of apps somewhere in the thousands.
British Dictionary definitions for total


the whole, esp regarded as the complete sum of a number of parts
complete; absolute the evening was a total failure, a total eclipse
(prenominal) being or related to a total the total number of passengers
verb -tals, -talling, -talled (US) -tals, -taling, -taled
when intr, sometimes foll by to. to amount to total six pounds
(transitive) to add up to total a list of prices
(transitive) (slang) to kill or badly injure (someone)
(transitive) (mainly US) to damage (a vehicle) beyond repair
Derived Forms
totally, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Old French, from Medieval Latin tōtālis, from Latin tōtus all
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
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Word Origin and History for total
late 14c., from O.Fr. total, from M.L. totalis "entire, total" (as in summa totalis "sum total"), from L. totus "all, whole, entire," of unknown origin. The noun is 1557, from the adj.; the verb is 1716, from the noun; meaning "to destroy one's car" first recorded 1954. Totality is from 1598; in the eclipse sense, 1842. Total war is attested from 1937, in ref. to a concept developed in Germany.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for total


  1. To destroy; totally wreck, esp a car: It didn't look like much of a wreck, but his car was totaled (1954+)
  2. To maim or kill; grievously injure; waste: Mightn't a tile have fallen off a roof and totaled us by dinnertime? (1895+)

[first sense fr the phrase a total loss, having to do with something insured]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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