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[sem-i-koh-luh n] /ˈsɛm ɪˌkoʊ lən/
the punctuation mark (;) used to indicate a major division in a sentence where a more distinct separation is felt between clauses or items on a list than is indicated by a comma, as between the two clauses of a compound sentence.
Origin of semicolon
1635-45; semi- + colon1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for semicolon
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There was no semicolon after "opaca," but a comma after "latiore."

  • In the first sentence the semicolon enables us to group the objects enumerated.

    "Stops" Paul Allardyce
  • Then he read aloud, with a comma or semicolon between each, a dozen or twenty titles.

    In Luck at Last Walter Besant
  • Both the colon and semicolon are much less used now than formerly.

    Punctuation Frederick W. Hamilton
  • One is the Violet-tip or semicolon and the other is the one which has long been called the Comma.

    Butterflies Worth Knowing Clarence M. Weed
  • The need of the semicolon in both Nos. 58 and 59 is, we think, unmistakable.

    Why We Punctuate William Livingston Klein
  • The semicolon should always be put outside quotation marks unless it forms a part of the quotation itself.

    Punctuation Frederick W. Hamilton
  • Either the semicolon and the comma or the quotation-marks must be omitted.

    Why We Punctuate William Livingston Klein
British Dictionary definitions for semicolon


the punctuation mark (;) used to indicate a pause intermediate in value or length between that of a comma and that of a full stop
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 semicolon

punctuation-mark, 1640s, a hybrid coined from Latin-derived semi- + Greek-based colon (n.1). The mark itself was in Greek the point of interrogation.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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semicolon in Culture

semicolon definition

A punctuation mark (;) used to join two independent clauses in a sentence. The semicolon shows that the ideas in the two clauses are related: “Jack really didn't mind being left without a car; he had the house to himself.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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semicolon in Technology

Common: ITU-T: semicolon; semi. Rare: weenie; INTERCAL: hybrid, pit-thwong.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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