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punctuation

[puhngk-choo-ey-shuh n] /ˌpʌŋk tʃuˈeɪ ʃən/
noun
1.
the practice or system of using certain conventional marks or characters in writing or printing in order to separate elements and make the meaning clear, as in ending a sentence or separating clauses.
2.
the act of punctuating.
3.
punctuation marks.
Origin
1530-1540
1530-40; < Medieval Latin pūnctuātiōn- (stem of pūnctuātiō) a marking, pointing. See punctuate, -ion
Related forms
punctuational, punctuative, adjective
nonpunctuation, noun
repunctuation, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for punctuative

punctuation

/ˌpʌŋktjʊˈeɪʃən/
noun
1.
the use of symbols not belonging to the alphabet of a writing system to indicate aspects of the intonation and meaning not otherwise conveyed in the written language
2.
the symbols used for this purpose
3.
the act or an instance of punctuating
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for punctuative
punctuation
1539, "pointing of the psalms," from M.L. punctuationem (nom. punctuatio) "a marking with points," from punctuatus, pp. of punctuare "to mark with points or dots," from L. punctus "a prick" (see point). Meaning "system of inserting pauses in written matter" is recorded from 1661.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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