apostrophic


noun

  1. the sign (‘), as used: to indicate the omission of one or more letters in a word, whether unpronounced, as in o’er for over, or pronounced, as in gov’t for government; to indicate the possessive case, as in man’s; or to indicate plurals of abbreviations and symbols, as in several M.D.’s, 3’s.

noun Rhetoric.

  1. a digression in the form of an address to someone not present, or to a personified object or idea, as “O Death, where is thy sting?”

noun

  1. the punctuation mark used to indicate the omission of a letter or number, such as he’s for he has or he is, also used in English to form the possessive, as in John’s father and twenty pounds’ worth

noun

  1. rhetoric a digression from a discourse, esp an address to an imaginary or absent person or a personification
n.

mark indicating omitted letter, 1580s, from Middle French apostrophe, from Late Latin apostrophus, from Greek apostrophos (prosoidia) “(the accent of) turning away,” thus, a mark showing where a letter has been omitted, from apostrephein “avert, turn away,” from apo- “from” (see apo-) + strephein “to turn” (see strophe).

In English, the mark often represents loss of -e- in -es, possessive ending. It was being extended to all possessives, whether they ever had an -e- or not, by 18c. Greek also used this word for a “turning aside” of an orator in speech to address some individual, a sense first recorded in English 1530s.

A mark (‘) used with a noun or pronoun to indicate possession (“the student’s comment,” “the people’s choice”) or in a contraction to show where letters have been left out (isn’t, don’t, we’ll).

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