AskDefine | Define ellipsis

Dictionary Definition

ellipsis n : omission or suppression of parts of words or sentences [syn: eclipsis] [also: ellipses (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary




From ἔλλειψις.


  1. ellipse
  2. ellipsis

Extensive Definition

distinguish ellipse Ellipsis (plural ellipses; from Greek 'omission') in printing and writing refers to a mark or series of marks that usually indicate an intentional omission of a word or a phrase from the original text. An ellipsis can also be used to indicate a pause in speech, an unfinished thought or, at the end of a sentence, a trailing off into silence (aposiopesis).
The most common form for an ellipsis consists of a row of three full stops (..., . . . or [...]). Forms encountered less often are three asterisks (***), or one (—) or more (––) dashes.
The triple-dot punctuation mark is also called a suspension point, points of ellipsis, periods of ellipsis, or colloquially, dot-dot-dot.

In writing

The use of ellipses can either mislead or clarify, and the reader must rely on the good intentions of the writer who uses it. An example of this ambiguity is ‘She went to… school.’ In this sentence, ‘…’ might represent the word ‘elementary’, or the word ‘no’. Omission of part of a quoted sentence without indication by an ellipsis (or bracketed text) (e.g. ‘She went to school.’ as opposed to ‘She went to Broadmoor Elementary school.’) is considered misleading. An ellipsis at the end of the sentence which ends with a period (or such a period followed by an ellipsis), appears, therefore, as four dots.
An ellipsis may also imply an unstated alternative indicated by context. For example, when Count Dracula says "I don't drink … wine", the implication is that he does drink something else, which in the context would be blood. In such usage the ellipsis is stronger than a mere dash, where for example "I don't drink — wine" might only indicate that the Count, not a native English speaker, was pausing to get the correct word without other implication.

Typographical rules

There are differences in typographical rules and conventions of using ellipses between languages.

In English

The style and use varies in the English language. The Chicago Manual of Style suggests the use of an ellipsis for any omitted word, phrase, line, or paragraph from within a quoted passage. There are two commonly used methods of using ellipses: one uses three dots for any omission, while the second makes a distinction between omissions within a sentence (using three dots: ...) and omissions between sentences (using a period and a space followed by three dots: . . . ). An ellipsis at the end of a sentence with no sentence following should be followed by a period (for a total of four dots). The Modern Language Association (MLA) however, used to indicate that an ellipsis must include spaces before and after each dot in all uses. If an ellipsis is meant to represent an omission, square brackets must surround the ellipsis to make it clear that there was no pause in the original quote: [ . . . ]. Currently, the MLA has removed the requirement of brackets in their style handbooks. However, the use of brackets is still correct as it clears confusion.
According to Robert Bringhurst's Elements of Typographic Style, the details of typesetting ellipses depend on the character and size of the font being set and the typographer's preference. Bringhurst writes that a full space between each dot is "another Victorian eccentricity. In most contexts, the Chicago ellipsis is much too wide" — he recommends using flush dots, or thin-spaced dots (up to one-fifth of an em), or the prefabricated ellipsis character (Unicode U+2026, Latin entity …). Bringhurst suggests that normally an ellipsis should be spaced fore-and-aft to separate it from the text, but when it combines with other punctuation, the leading space disappears and the other punctuation follows. He provides the following examples:
In legal writing in the United States, Rule 5.3 in the Bluebook citation guide governs the use of ellipses and requires a space before the first dot and between the two subsequent dots. If an ellipsis ends the sentence, then there are three dots, each separated by a space, followed by the final punctuation.

In Polish

In Polish, an ellipsis (called , which means multidot) is always composed of three dots without any spaces between. There is no space between the ellipsis and the preceding word, but there is always a space after the ellipsis, unless the following character is a closing bracket or quote mark, in which case the space is inserted after that character instead.
When the ellipsis is used for omitting a fragment of quotation, it is always surrounded with either square brackets or, more commonly, parentheses, with no space inside. An ellipsis without parentheses usually means a pause in speech. It can also mean a word said partially and interrupted and in that case can be directly followed by another punctuation mark without space: Ellipsis can be used at the end of a sentence, but it is always composed of three dots, never four, and the only difference is the capitalisation of the next word:

In Japanese

In writing, the ellipsis consists usually of three dots (one ellipsis character) or six dots (two ellipsis characters), or ; however, variations in the number of dots exist. In horizontally written text the dots are commonly vertically centred within the text height (between the baseline and the ascent line), as in the standard Japanese Windows fonts; in vertically written text the dots are always centred horizontally. As the Japanese word for dot is pronounced '', the dots are colloquially referred to by the moniker '' () (akin to the English 'dot dot dot'). More officially, they are called n-dot leaders (n-ten rīda, n-ten rīdā), where n corresponds to the number of dots.
In Japanese manga, the ellipsis by itself represents speechlessness, or a "pregnant pause." Given the context, this could be anything from an admission of guilt or an expression of being dumbfounded as a result of something that another person has just said or done. As a device, the ten-ten-ten is intended to focus the reader on a character while allowing the character to not speak any dialogue. This conveys to the reader a focus of the narrative "camera" on the silent subject, implying an expectation of some motion or action. It is not unheard of to see inanimate objects "speaking" the ellipsis.

In Chinese

In Chinese, the ellipsis is six dots (in two groups of three dots, occupying the same horizontal space as two characters). The dots are always centred within the baseline and the ascender when horizontal, but on the baseline are also accepted today; and centred horizontally when vertical.

In mathematical notation

An ellipsis is also often used in mathematics to mean “and so forth”. In a list, between commas, or following a comma, a normal ellipsis is used, as in:
To indicate the omission of values in a repeated operation, an ellipsis raised to the center of the line is used between two operation symbols or following the last operation symbol, as in:
The latter formula means the sum of all natural numbers from 1 to 100. However, it is not a formally defined mathematical symbol. These dots should never be used unless the pattern to be followed is clear.
Sometimes, it is appropriate to display the formula being used. The preceding example would become:
Another example is the set of zeros of the cosine function.
The diagonal and vertical forms of the ellipsis are particularly useful for showing missing terms in matrices, such as the size-n identity matrix
I_n = \begin1 & 0 & \cdots & 0 \\0 & 1 & \cdots & 0 \\\vdots & \vdots & \ddots & \vdots \\0 & 0 & \cdots & 1 \end.

In programming

In some programming languages (including Perl, Ruby, and Pascal), a shortened two-dot ellipsis is used to represent a range of values given two endpoints; for example, to iterate through a list of integers between 1 and 100 inclusive in Perl:
foreach (1..100)
Perl overloads the ".." operator in scalar context as a stateful bistable Boolean test, roughly equivalent to "true while x but not yet y". In Perl6, the 3-character ellipsis is also known as the "yadda yadda yadda" operator and, similarly to its linguistic meaning, serves as a "stand-in" for code to be inserted later. In addition, an actual Unicode ellipsis character is used to serve as a type of marker in a perl6 format string.
In the C programming language, an ellipsis is used to represent a variable number of parameters to a function. For example:
void func(const char* str, ...)
The above function in C could then be called with different types and numbers of parameters such as:
func("input string", 5, 10, 15);
func("input string", "another string", 0.5);
As of version 1.5, Java has adopted this "varargs" functionality. For example:
public int func(int num, String... strings)
Most programming languages other than Perl6 require the ellipsis to be written as a series of periods; a single (Unicode) ellipsis character cannot be used.

In computing

In computing, several ellipsis characters have been codified. In Unicode, there are the following characters:
  • For general use:
    • Horizontal ellipsis, …, at code point 2026 (HTML entity …)
    • Thai ellipsis, ฯ, at code point 0E2F
    • Laotian ellipsis, ຯ, at code point 0EAF
    • Mongolian ellipsis, , at code point 1801
  • For use in mathematics:
    • Vertical ellipsis, , at code point 22EE
    • Midline horizontal ellipsis, , at code point 22EF
    • Up right diagonal ellipsis, , at code point 22F0
    • Down right diagonal ellipsis, , at code point 22F1
These code points, given here in hexadecimal, typically manifest in encoded form, either via a Unicode Transformation Format like UTF-8, or via an older character map ("legacy encoding").
In Chinese and sometimes in Japanese, ellipsis characters are done by entering two consecutive horizontal ellipsis (U+2026). In vertical texts, the application should rotate the symbol accordingly.
Unicode recognizes a series of three period characters (period being code point 002E, hexadecimal) as being a valid equivalent to the horizontal ellipsis character.
The horizontal ellipsis character may be represented in HTML by the entity reference … (since HTML 4.0). Alternatively, in HTML, XML, and SGML, a numeric character reference such as … or … can be used.
The horizontal ellipsis character also appears in the following older character maps:
As with all characters, especially those outside of the ASCII range, the author, sender and receiver of an encoded ellipsis must be in agreement upon what bytes are being used to represent the character. Naive text processing software may improperly assume that a particular encoding is being used, resulting in mistranslation.
Q. How do I insert an ellipsis in my manuscript? My computer keyboard can do that with a couple of keystrokes. Is this acceptable? Or should I type period + space for all three dots? Should these spaces be nonbreaking spaces?
A. For manuscripts, inserting an ellipsis character is a workable method, but it is not the preferred method. It is easy enough for a publisher to search for this unique character and replace it with the recommended three periods plus two nonbreaking spaces (. . .). But in addition to this extra step, there is also the potential for character-mapping problems (the ellipsis could appear as some other character) across software platforms—an added inconvenience. Moreover, the numeric entity for an ellipsis is not formally defined for standard HTML (and may not work with older browsers). So type three spaced dots, like this . . . or, at the end of a grammatical sentence, like this. . . . If you can, add two nonbreaking spaces to keep the three dots—or the last three of four—from breaking across a line.
In a user interface, ... after a command means that the user needs to enter extra information before the command can execute. It is also used to signify that an operation may take some time, as in "Please wait...". In a GUI environment, clicking on a menu item with ... after the name means another dialog box will open which requires more actions from the user. A typical example is the Run... in the Microsoft Windows Start menu and the List of Values field in Oracle ERP applications.
In Abstract Syntax Notation One (ASN.1), the ellipsis is used as extension marker to indicate the possibility of type extensions in the future revisions of a protocol specification. In a type constraint expression like A ::= INTEGER (0..127, ..., 256..511) ellipsis is used to separate extension root from extension additions. Definition of type A in version 1 system of the form A ::= INTEGER (0..127, ...) and definition of type A in version 2 system of the form A ::= INTEGER (0..127, ..., 256..511) constitute extension series of the same type A in different versions of the same specification. The ellipsis can also be used in compound type definitions to separate the set of fields belonging to the extension root from the set of fields constituting extension additions. Here is an example: B ::= SEQUENCE

Types in typography

In typography there are various types of ellipsis, which are displayed below using TEX. The therefore sign () and because sign () have the three dots in a triangle.


Further reading

ellipsis in Bulgarian: Многоточие
ellipsis in Czech: Výpustka
ellipsis in Danish: Udeladelsesprikker
ellipsis in German: Auslassungspunkte
ellipsis in Spanish: Puntos suspensivos
ellipsis in Esperanto: Tripunkto
ellipsis in Basque: Etenpuntuak
ellipsis in Persian: سه نقطه
ellipsis in French: Points de suspension
ellipsis in Croatian: Trotočje
ellipsis in Indonesian: Elipsis
ellipsis in Italian: Punti di sospensione
ellipsis in Hebrew: שלוש נקודות
ellipsis in Kazakh: Көп нүкте
ellipsis in Lithuanian: Daugtaškis
ellipsis in Hungarian: Három pont
ellipsis in Dutch: Beletselteken
ellipsis in Japanese: リーダー (記号)
ellipsis in Norwegian: Ellipse (skrift)
ellipsis in Polish: Wielokropek
ellipsis in Portuguese: Reticências
ellipsis in Russian: Многоточие
ellipsis in Simple English: Ellipsis
ellipsis in Slovak: Elipsa (literatúra)
ellipsis in Slovenian: Tripičje
ellipsis in Finnish: Kolme pistettä
ellipsis in Swedish: Uteslutningstecken
ellipsis in Thai: จุดไข่ปลา
ellipsis in Chinese: 省略号

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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