noun, plural parentheses [puh-ren-thuh-seez] .
either or both of a pair of signs () used in writing to mark off an interjected explanatory or qualifying remark, to indicate separate groupings of symbols in mathematics and symbolic logic, etc.
Usually, parentheses. the material contained within these marks.
Grammar. a qualifying, explanatory, or appositive word, phrase, clause, or sentence that interrupts a syntactic construction without otherwise affecting it, having often a characteristic intonation and indicated in writing by commas, parentheses, or dashes, as in William Smith—you must know him—is coming tonight.
an interval.

1560–70; < Late Latin < Greek parénthesis a putting in beside. See par-, en-2, thesis Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
parenthesis (pəˈrɛnθɪsɪs)
n , pl -ses
1.  a phrase, often explanatory or qualifying, inserted into a passage with which it is not grammatically connected, and marked off by brackets, dashes, etc
2.  Also called: bracket either of a pair of characters, (), used to enclose such a phrase or as a sign of aggregation in mathematical or logical expressions
3.  an intervening occurrence; interlude; interval
4.  in parenthesis inserted as a parenthesis
[C16: via Late Latin from Greek: something placed in besides, from parentithenai, from para-1 + en-² + tithenai to put]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1550, "words, clauses, etc. inserted into a sentence," from M.Fr. parenthèse, from L.L. parenthesis "addition of a letter to a syllable in a word," from Gk. parenthesis, lit. "a putting in beside," from parentithenai "put in beside," from para- "beside" + en- "in" + tithenai "put, place," from
PIE base *dhe- "to put, to do" (see factitious). Extension of the word to the curved brackets that indicate the words inserted is from 1715.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
In parenthesis was a notation that the word is a contemptuous colloquialism.
Oh, and above, that's a colon placed properly within a parenthesis not a smiley.
Btw, your parenthesis format for comments is a royal pain to read, particularly when you're in a hurry.
Until this moment my conception of arch shape had been uncomplicated: a single
  sideways parenthesis, more or less.
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