Punc`tu*a"tion (?), n. [Cf. F. ponctuation.] Gram.
The act or art of punctuating or pointing a writing or discourse; the art or mode of dividing literary composition into sentences, and members of a sentence, by means of points, so as to elucidate the author's meaning.
⇒ Punctuation, as the term is usually understood, is chiefly performed with four points: the period [.], the colon [:], the semicolon [;], and the comma [,]. Other points used in writing and printing, partly rhetorical and partly grammatical, are the note of interrogation [?], the note of exclamation [!], the parentheses [()], the dash [--], and brackets . It was not until the 16th century that an approach was made to the present system of punctuation by the Manutii of Venice. With Caxton, oblique strokes took the place of commas and periods.
© Webster 1913.