1 [uh-pos-truh-fee]
the sign ('), as used: to indicate the omission of one or more letters in a word, whether unpronounced, as in o'er for over, or pronounced, as in gov't for government; to indicate the possessive case, as in man's; or to indicate plurals of abbreviations and symbols, as in several M.D.'s, 3's.

1580–90; < Middle French (with pronunciation later altered by confusion with apostrophe2), replacing earlier apostrophus < Late Latin (> Middle French) < Greek apóstrophos (prosōidía) eliding (mark), literally, (mark) of turning away, verbid of apostréphein to turn away, equivalent to apo- apo- + stréphein to turn; see strophe

apostrophic [ap-uh-strof-ik, -stroh-fik] , adjective
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2 [uh-pos-truh-fee] ,
noun Rhetoric.
a digression in the form of an address to someone not present, or to a personified object or idea, as “O Death, where is thy sting?”

1525–35; < Late Latin < Greek apostrophḗ a turning away, equivalent to apostroph- (verbid of apostréphein; see apostrophe1) + noun suffix

apostrophic [ap-uh-strof-ik, -stroh-fik] , adjective
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
apostrophe1 (əˈpɒstrəfɪ)
the punctuation mark ' used to indicate the omission of a letter or number, such as he's for he has or he is, also used in English to form the possessive, as in John's father and twenty pounds' worth
[C17: from Late Latin, from Greek apostrophos mark of elision, from apostrephein to turn away]

apostrophe2 (əˈpɒstrəfɪ)
rhetoric a digression from a discourse, esp an address to an imaginary or absent person or a personification
[C16: from Latin apostrophē, from Greek: a turning away, digression]

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Word Origin & History

1580s, from M.Fr. apostrophe, from L.L. apostrophus, from Gk. apostrophos (prosoidia) "(the accent of) turning away," thus, a mark showing where a letter has been omitted, from apostrephein "avert, turn away," from apo- "from" (see apo-) + strephein "to turn" (see
strophe). In English, the mark usually represents loss of -e- in -es, possessive ending. Greek also used this word for a "turning aside" of an orator in speech to address some individual, a sense first recorded in Eng. 1530s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
apostrophe [(uh-pos-truh-fee)]

A mark (') used with a noun or pronoun to indicate possession (“the student's comment,” “the people's choice”) or in a contraction to show where letters have been left out (isn't, don't, we'll).

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Grammar, syntax, apostrophes and the conscious exercise of intelligence are
  all--and equally--the anathema to art.
What's also interesting to me is that leaving out apostrophes tends to be a
  less common mistake than inserting extras.
Also, you might want to learn how to better use apostrophes.
He could probably make more money trying to sell those surplus apostrophes than
  these things.
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