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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
inverted comma
▪ Her friends, in inverted commas, all disappeared when she was in trouble.
▪ Attributes will normally be displayed within single inverted commas.
▪ You can solve this problem by putting such terms in inverted commas when you first introduce them.
▪ I put the word in inverted commas to highlight a mystique about parenthood.
▪ They should be shown how to set out and punctuate direct speech, using inverted commas and commas.
▪ Unfortunately in 1971 I was not protected from that most pernicious word by those inverted commas.
▪ Some people like using commas and others prefer not to.
▪ The next question is whether to use a colon, comma, or dash after the salutation.
▪ This last result can be expressed in a more compact form using the subscript comma notation for space-time derivatives:.
▪ They all agree that you should use a comma if the introductory word or words contain a verb.
▪ They should be shown how to set out and punctuate direct speech, using inverted commas and commas.
▪ She had a sense of how to use commas, but not periods.
in inverted commas
▪ A hyphen is an acceptable alternative to a comma.
▪ A semicolon following a prompt string is an acceptable alternative to a comma.
▪ Delete any extra spaces between the number and the comma. 11.
▪ I also saw two comma butterflies.
▪ Now there is no more loneliness comma.
▪ The 2 parameters should be separated by a comma or a hyphen.
▪ The next question is whether to use a colon, comma, or dash after the salutation.
▪ Unfortunately, most businesspeople go one of two ways-they either avoid commas completely or saturate every line.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Comma \Com"ma\, n. [L. comma part of a sentence, comma, Gr. ? clause, fr. ? to cut off. Cf. Capon.]

  1. A character or point [,] marking the smallest divisions of a sentence, written or printed.

  2. (Mus.) A small interval (the difference between a major and minor half step), seldom used except by tuners.

    Comma bacillus (Physiol.), a variety of bacillus shaped like a comma, found in the intestines of patients suffering from cholera. It is considered by some as having a special relation to the disease; -- called also cholera bacillus.

    Comma butterfly (Zo["o]l.), an American butterfly ( Grapta comma), having a white comma-shaped marking on the under side of the wings.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1520s as a Latin word, nativized by 1590s, from Latin comma "short phrase," from Greek komma "clause in a sentence," literally "piece which is cut off," from koptein "to cut off," from PIE root *kop- "to beat, strike" (see hatchet (n.)). Like colon (n.1) and period, originally a Greek rhetorical term for a part of a sentence, and like them it has been transferred to the punctuation mark that identifies it.


n. 1 punctuation mark (''',''') (usually indicating a pause between parts of a sentence or between elements in a list). 2 (context by extension English) A diacritical mark used below certain letters in Romanian. 3 A European and North American butterfly, (taxlink Polygonia c-album species noshow=1), of the family Nymphalidae. 4 (context music English) a difference in the calculation of nearly identical intervals by different ways. 5 (context genetics English) A delimiting marker between items in a genetic sequence. 6 In Ancient Greek rhetoric a comma (κόμμα) is a short clause, something less than a colon, originally denoted by comma marks. In antiquity comma was defined as a combination of words that has no more than eight syllables. This term is later applied to longer phrases, e.g. the Johannine comma.

  1. n. a punctuation mark (,) used to indicate the separation of elements within the grammatical structure of a sentence

  2. anglewing butterfly with a comma-shaped mark on the underside of each hind wing [syn: comma butterfly, Polygonia comma]

Comma (rhetoric)

In Ancient Greek rhetoric, a comma (κόμμα komma, plural κόμματα kommata) is a short clause, something less than a colon.

In the system of Aristophanes of Byzantium, commata were separated by middle interpuncts.

In antiquity, a comma was defined as a combination of words that has no more than eight syllables.


The comma is a punctuation mark that appears in several variants in various languages. It has the same shape as an apostrophe or single closing quotation mark in many typefaces, but it differs from them in being placed on the baseline of the text. Some typefaces render it as a small line, slightly curved or straight but inclined from the vertical, or with the appearance of a small, filled-in number 9.

The comma is used in many contexts and languages, mainly for separating parts of a sentence such as clauses, and items in lists, particularly when there are three or more items listed. The word comma comes from the Greek komma (κόμμα), which means a cut-off piece; specifically, in grammar, a short clause.

A comma-shaped mark is used as a diacritic in several writing systems: above the letter in Greek; below the letter in Latvian, Romanian, and Livonian, and is considered distinct from the cedilla.

Comma (disambiguation)

A comma is a type of punctuation mark.

Comma or commas may also refer to:

  • Comma (butterfly), the brush-footed butterfly Polygonia c-album
  • Comma (journal), the journal of the International Council on Archives
  • Comma (music), a type of interval in music theory
  • Comma (rhetoric), a short clause in Ancient Greek rhetoric
  • "Commas" (song), the censored version of the Future song "Fuck Up Some Commas"
  • Comma Johanneum, a short clause of disputed authenticity in the Gospel of John
  • Comma operator, an operator in C and other related programming languages
  • Oxford comma, a disputed usage of the punctuation mark
Comma (music)

In music theory, a comma is a minute interval, the difference resulting from tuning one note two different ways. The word comma used without qualification refers to the syntonic comma, which can be defined, for instance, as the difference between an F tuned using the D-based Pythagorean tuning system, and another F tuned using the D-based quarter-comma meantone tuning system.

Within the same tuning system, two enharmonically equivalent notes (such as G and A) may have a slightly different frequency, and the interval between them is a comma. For example, in extended scales produced with five-limit tuning an A tuned as a major third below C5 and a G tuned as two major thirds above C4 will not be exactly the same note, as they would be in equal temperament. The interval between those notes, the diesis, is an easily audible comma (its size is more than 40% of a semitone).

Commas are often defined as the difference in size between two semitones. Each meantone temperament tuning system produces a 12-tone scale characterized by two different kinds of semitones (diatonic and chromatic), and hence by a comma of unique size. The same is true for Pythagorean tuning.

467 px|Lesser diesis defined in quarter-comma meantone as difference between semitones , or interval between enharmonically equivalent notes (from C to D). The interval from C to D is narrower than in Pythagorean tuning (see below).

492 px| Pythagorean comma (PC) defined in Pythagorean tuning as difference between semitones , or interval between enharmonically equivalent notes (from D to C). The interval from C to D is wider than in quarter-comma meantone (see above).

In just intonation, more than two kinds of semitones may be produced. Thus, a single tuning system may be characterized by several different commas. For instance, a commonly used version of five-limit tuning produces a 12-tone scale with four kinds of semitones and four commas.

The size of commas is commonly expressed and compared in terms of cents – 1/1200 fractions of an octave on a logarithmic scale.

Usage examples of "comma".

The Harmonic Heptagon provides a compact visualisation of all the consonant relationships between notes in the diatonic scale, and a trip once around the heptagon corresponds to one syntonic comma.

Sides of beef beaded with blood, wheels of moist cheese, huge Calla Fundy shrimp like plump orange commas.

And, just as Blouse could invert commas, Wazzer could drop capital letters into a spoken sentence.

There were enough billions of wiggling comma germs in this tube to infect a regiment.

But now the street door banged open behind her, a pair of muddy size-eleven neon sneakers came pounding down the stairs, and Samuel Saladin DuPree, his cheeks speckled with crusty gray commas of road-dirt, stood grinning at her, hugely.

If you listened closely it was possible to hear the dashes and commas in his speech, even the colons and semicolons.

She looked like a mannequin in that silver trench-coat, with the curling comma of dark hair spilling out from under the yellow chiffon scarf she'd hurriedly tied on before they fled.

I discovered the comatose body of the Energy Ministry's oil supremo after he had told me comma in a hysterical phone call comma that he was being blackmailed point par.

Later we'll have tortoise-shells, red admirals, yellow brimstones, perhaps even commas.

If the series is in pairs, commas separate the pairs: "Rich and poor, learned and unlearned, black and white, Christian and Jew, Mohammedan and Buddhist must pass through the same gate.

Two commas crossed, an S reversed, an hourglass on its side and pushed inward from the ends, and a crooked pi.

Corbell dialed a number he remembered: two commas crossed, S reversed, hourglass on its side, crooked pi.

Then he pulled the speakwrite towards him and rapped out a message in the hybrid jargon of the Ministries: 'Items one comma five comma seven approved fullwise stop suggestion contained item six doubleplus ridiculous verging crimethink cancel stop unproceed constructionwise antegetting plusfull estimates machinery overheads stop end message.

Sometimes, as now, the guys fell silent as Richard worked the machine, his face proud and nervous and aslant, giving glosses and derivations, sneering at the screen's bad grammar (for this oracle was only semi-literate, prone to danglers and pause-for-breath commas, confounded by all apostrophes) and smacking out the answers before anyone had time to read the questions.

Sitting in an armchair and sipping the whisky, I read through all the minor bequests to people like Arthur Bellbrook, and all the lawyerly gobbledegook "upon trust" and without commas, and came finally to the plain language.