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
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