A parenthesis is a tall, curvy punctuation mark used to set off material that isn’t fundamental to the main topic, like an afterthought or an aside (or a funny joke).

Parenthesis marks come in pairs: the plural is spelled “parentheses.” Parentheses look like this: ( ). When you use parentheses to set off material in a sentence, you say that the material is “in parenthesis.” Put something in parentheses if it's a comment, an afterthought, or additional information that is possibly interesting but not essential to the subject. You can also describe something as a parenthesis, like a digressive story about horses in the middle of a political speech.

Definitions of parenthesis

n either of two punctuation marks (or) used to enclose textual material

Type of:
punctuation, punctuation mark
the marks used to clarify meaning by indicating separation of words into sentences and clauses and phrases

n a message that departs from the main subject

aside, digression, divagation, excursus
Type of:
content, message, subject matter, substance
what a communication that is about something is about

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.