What does apostrophe mean?

Definitions for apostrophe
əˈpɒs trə fiapos·tro·phe

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word apostrophe.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. apostrophenoun

    address to an absent or imaginary person

  2. apostrophenoun

    the mark (') used to indicate the omission of one or more letters from a printed word

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary


    1.In rhetorick, a diversion of speech to another person, than the speech appointed did intend or require; or it is a turning of the speech from one person to another, many times abruptly. A figure when we break off the course of our speech, and speak to some new person, present or absent, as to the people or witnesses, when it was before directed to the judges, or opponent. This diversion or speech is made many ways.1. To God.2. To angels.3. To men in their several ranks, whether absent or present, dead or alive.4. To the adversary.5. To the heavenly bodies and meteors.6. To the earth and things in it.7. To the sea and things in it.8. To beasts, birds, and fishes.9. To inanimate things. Smith’s Rhetorick.

    Etymology: ἀποστϱοφὴ, from ἀπὸ, from, and στϱέφω, to turn.

    Many laudable attempts have been made, by abbreviating words with apostrophes; and by lopping polysyllables, leaving one or two words at most. Jonathan Swift.


  1. apostrophe

    An apostrophe is a punctuation mark used in English language to indicate either possession (e.g., John's book) or the omission of letters or numbers (e.g., it's for it is, '90s for 1990s). It is also used in contractions (e.g., can't for cannot). Additionally, in literature, apostrophe is a figure of speech where the speaker directly addresses an absent person, an abstract idea, or a non-human entity.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Apostrophenoun

    a figure of speech by which the orator or writer suddenly breaks off from the previous method of his discourse, and addresses, in the second person, some person or thing, absent or present; as, Milton's apostrophe to Light at the beginning of the third book of "Paradise Lost."

  2. Apostrophenoun

    the contraction of a word by the omission of a letter or letters, which omission is marked by the character ['] placed where the letter or letters would have been; as, call'd for called

  3. Apostrophenoun

    the mark ['] used to denote that a word is contracted (as in ne'er for never, can't for can not), and as a sign of the possessive, singular and plural; as, a boy's hat, boys' hats. In the latter use it originally marked the omission of the letter e

  4. Etymology: [(1) L., fr. Gr. a turning away, fr. to turn away; from + to turn. (2) F., fr. L. apostrophus apostrophe, the turning away or omitting of a letter, Gr. .]


  1. Apostrophe

    The apostrophe is a punctuation mark, and sometimes a diacritic mark, in languages that use the Latin alphabet or certain other alphabets. In English, it serves three purposes: ⁕The marking of the omission of one or more letters. ⁕The marking of possessive case. ⁕The marking by some as plural of written items that are not words established in English orthography. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘apostrophe’ comes ultimately from Greek ἡ ἀπόστροφος [προσῳδία], through Latin and French. The apostrophe looks the same as a closing single quotation mark, although they have different meanings. The apostrophe also looks similar to, but is not the same as the prime symbol, which is used to indicate measurement in feet or arcminutes, as well as for various mathematical purposes, and the ʻokina, which represents a glottal stop in Polynesian languages. Such incorrect substitutes as ´ and ` are not uncommon in unprofessional texts, where an ambiguous treatment of the apostrophe in digital typesetting is a major factor of this confusion.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Apostrophe

    a-pos′trof-e, n. (rhet.) a sudden turning away from the ordinary course of a speech to address some person or object present or absent, explained by Quintilian as addressed to a person present, but extended by modern use to the absent or dead: a mark (') showing the omission of a letter or letters in a word, also a sign of the modern Eng. genitive or possessive case—orig. a mere mark of the dropping of the letter e in writing.—adj. Apostroph′ic.—v.t. Apos′trophise, to address by apostrophe. [Gr. apo, from, and Strophe, a turning.]

Suggested Resources

  1. apostrophe

    The apostrophe symbol -- In this Symbols.com article you will learn about the meaning of the apostrophe symbol and its characteristic.

How to pronounce apostrophe?

How to say apostrophe in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of apostrophe in Chaldean Numerology is: 5

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of apostrophe in Pythagorean Numerology is: 7

Examples of apostrophe in a Sentence

  1. Doug Larson:

    If the English language made any sense, a catastrophe would be an apostrophe with fur.

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Translations for apostrophe

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"apostrophe." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 26 May 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/apostrophe>.

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    a long narrow excavation in the earth
    A arborolatry
    B dint
    C ditch
    D pluck

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