9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[puhngk-choo-eyt] /ˈpʌŋk tʃuˌeɪt/
verb (used with object), punctuated, punctuating.
to mark or divide (something written) with punctuation marks in order to make the meaning clear.
to interrupt at intervals:
Cheers punctuated the mayor's speech.
to give emphasis or force to; emphasize; underline.
verb (used without object), punctuated, punctuating.
to insert or use marks of punctuation.
Origin of punctuate
1625-35; < Medieval Latin pūnctuātus (past participle of pūnctuāre to point), derivative of Latin pūnctus a pricking; see punctual
Related forms
punctuator, noun
nonpunctuating, adjective
repunctuate, verb (used with object), repunctuated, repunctuating.
unpunctuated, adjective
unpunctuating, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for punctuate
  • Let me punctuate your readers' points with a couple of other observations.
  • Someone more grammatically attuned can probably better punctuate those sentence.
  • The lavish landscape features punctuate the transition from public world to private enclave, and promise a community within.
  • But it should be recognized that, if such sentences are to be written, there is only one way to punctuate them.
  • Sprightly bits of lemon zest and garlic punctuate this creamy mayonnaise-based egg salad.
  • At first he seemed tentative and wooden, stammering and repeating himself, too nervous to punctuate his sentences with gestures.
  • Projections and silent films punctuate their journey, enveloping the audience in a swirling epic of obsession and rebellion.
  • My farm has suffered from four- to six-inch rainfalls that punctuate the general dryness.
  • The heart-piercing moments that punctuate its rambling are glimpses of what a tighter film might have been.
  • Its long summer days and equally long winter nights punctuate extreme fluctuations in temperature and weather throughout the year.
British Dictionary definitions for punctuate


verb (mainly transitive)
(also intransitive) to insert punctuation marks into (a written text)
to interrupt or insert at frequent intervals: a meeting punctuated by heckling
to give emphasis to
Derived Forms
punctuator, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Medieval Latin punctuāre to prick, from Latin punctum a prick, from pungere to puncture
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 punctuate

1630s, "to point out," from Medieval Latin punctuatus, past participle of punctuare, from Latin punctus (see point (n.)). Meaning in reference to text, "to have pauses or stops indicated," is from 1818, probably a back-formation from punctuation. Hence, "interrupted at intervals" (1833). Related: Punctuated; punctuating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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