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apostrophe (uh-POS-truh-fee) noun

The superscript sign (') used to indicate the omission of a letter or letters from a word, the possessive case, and the plurals of numbers, letters, and abbreviations.

[French, from Late Latin apostrophus, from Greek apostrophos, from apostrephein, to turn away : apo-, + strephein, to turn.]

apostrophe (uh-POS-truh-fee) noun

The direct address of an absent or imaginary person or of a personified abstraction, especially as a digression in the course of a speech or composition.

[Late Latin apostrophe, from Greek, from apostrephein, to turn away.]

"`It seems that no one is certain anymore where to put an apostrophe,' he says. `I call this syndrome apostrophobia.' Apostrophes (which are airborne commas) are used to indicate the omission of a letter or letters from a word or phrase ..." Patricia Corrigan, Punctuation Falls on Very Hard Time's, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 30 Sep 1995.

"As an aside, it is interesting to consider a meteorological apostrophe delivered by one of the attendants as Cleopatra prepares to place the serpent on her breast: Dissolve, thick cloud, and rain, that I may say The gods themselves do weep." McIntosh, William A., The serpent that bites its own tail: a quattrocento birth-death-rebirth dialectic., Parabola, 1 Nov 1998.

This week's theme: words about punctuation and diacritics.

Well, we goofed. What can I say, even we make mistakes. (-; In yesterday's posting the apostrophe was punctuation non grata. Thanks to all 39571 who wrote to point it out. -Anu


The heart is wiser than the intellect. -Josiah Holland (1819-1881)

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