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[kom-uh n-ter-ee] /ˈkɒm ənˌtɛr i/
noun, plural commentaries.
a series of comments, explanations, or annotations:
a commentary on the Bible; news followed by a commentary.
an explanatory essay or treatise:
a commentary on a play; Blackstone's commentaries on law.
anything serving to illustrate a point, prompt a realization, or exemplify, especially in the case of something unfortunate:
The dropout rate is a sad commentary on our school system.
Usually, commentaries. records of facts or events:
Commentaries written by Roman lawyers give us information on how their courts functioned.
Origin of commentary
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English commentaries (plural) < Latin commentārium notebook, noun use of neuter of commentārius, equivalent to comment(um) comment + -ārius -ary
Related forms
[kom-uh n-tair-ee-uh l] /ˌkɒm ənˈtɛər i əl/ (Show IPA),
supercommentary, noun, plural supercommentaries. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for commentary
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The student is to read history actively and not passively; to esteem his own life the text, and books the commentary.

    Essays, First Series Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • That admirable book is a commentary upon this part of Genesis.

    Slavery Ordained of God Rev. Fred A. Ross, D.D.
  • One recreation he had: the writing of a commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.

    The Argosy Various
  • What a commentary on their desertion of him were the looks so full of benevolence and affection!

    Roland Cashel Charles James Lever
  • The whole Peninsular war forms a commentary on this text, with Waterloo for a crowning lesson.

    Battles of English History H. B. (Hereford Brooke) George
British Dictionary definitions for commentary


/ˈkɒməntərɪ; -trɪ/
noun (pl) -taries
an explanatory series of notes or comments
a spoken accompaniment to a broadcast, film, etc, esp of a sporting event
an explanatory essay or treatise on a text
(usually pl) a personal record of events or facts: the commentaries of Caesar
Derived Forms
commentarial (ˌkɒmənˈtɛərɪəl) adjective
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 commentary

1530s, from Middle French commentaire, or directly from Latin commentarius "notebook, annotation; diary, memoir," noun use of adjective, "relating to comments," from commentum (see comment (n.)). Perhaps the Latin noun is short for volumen commentarium. Originally in English as an adjective (early 15c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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