phrase


phrase
/frayz/, n., v., phrased, phrasing.
n.
1. Gram.
a. a sequence of two or more words arranged in a grammatical construction and acting as a unit in a sentence.
b. (in English) a sequence of two or more words that does not contain a finite verb and its subject or that does not consist of clause elements such as subject, verb, object, or complement, as a preposition and a noun or pronoun, an adjective and noun, or an adverb and verb.
2. Rhet. a word or group of spoken words that the mind focuses on momentarily as a meaningful unit and is preceded and followed by pauses.
3. a characteristic, current, or proverbial expression: a hackneyed phrase.
4. Music. a division of a composition, commonly a passage of four or eight measures, forming part of a period.
5. a way of speaking, mode of expression, or phraseology: a book written in the phrase of the West.
6. a brief utterance or remark: In a phrase, he's a dishonest man.
7. Dancing. a sequence of motions making up part of a choreographic pattern.
v.t.
8. to express or word in a particular way: to phrase an apology well.
9. to express in words: to phrase one's thoughts.
10. Music.
a. to mark off or bring out the phrases of (a piece), esp. in execution.
b. to group (notes) into a phrase.
v.i.
11. Music. to perform a passage or piece with proper phrasing.
[1520-30; (n.) back formation from phrases, pl. of earlier phrasis < L phrasis diction, style (pl. phrases) < Gk phrásis diction, style, speech, equiv. to phrá(zein) to speak + -sis -SIS; (v.) deriv. of the n.]
Syn. 1. PHRASE, EXPRESSION, IDIOM, LOCUTION all refer to grammatically related groups of words. A PHRASE is a sequence of two or more words that make up a grammatical construction, usually lacking a finite verb and hence not a complete clause or sentence: shady lane (a noun phrase); at the bottom (a prepositional phrase); very slowly (an adverbial phrase). In general use, PHRASE refers to any frequently repeated or memorable group of words, usually of less than sentence length or complexity: a case of feast or famine - to use the well-known phrase.
EXPRESSION is the most general of these words and may refer to a word, a phrase, or even a sentence: prose filled with old-fashioned expressions. An IDIOM is a phrase or larger unit of expression that is peculiar to a single language or a variety of a language and whose meaning, often figurative, cannot easily be understood by combining the usual meanings of its individual parts, as to go for broke. LOCUTION is a somewhat formal term for a word, a phrase, or an expression considered as peculiar to or characteristic of a regional or social dialect or considered as a sample of language rather than as a meaning-bearing item: a unique set of locutions heard only in the mountainous regions of the South.

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Universalium. 2010.

Synonyms: