Word of the Day

full stop

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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


the mark . used in writing at the end of sentences and abbreviations. The American word is period.

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary

Origin and usage

The compound noun full stop was formed within English from the adjective ‘full’ and the noun ‘stop’, which meant a pause in speaking. It was first used in the 17th century.


The noun full stop refers to the punctuation mark shown in the definition above and used here. In writing it marks the end of a sentence or abbreviation. Full stop is British; in American English the term is ‘period’. Full stop also has an emphatic use, to indicate that there is no possibility of argument about something, as in the first example below. ‘Period’ is used in the same way. If something comes to a full stop, it ends, often suddenly or unexpectedly, while a vehicle that comes to a full stop comes to a complete halt. There has been some discussion in the media recently of the role of punctuation in electronic communication, following reports that young people may find full stops in text messages and so on intimidating because they interpret them as signifying an abrupt or angry tone of voice. The story has attracted attention, perhaps partly because this is the silly season when serious news is traditionally in short supply. It also feeds neatly into ideas about young people being over-sensitive snowflakes who get offended at everything, including punctuation. The story is not really news, however; the research on which the news reports are based was carried out by academics at Leiden University in – wait for it – 2015, and the idea was not new even then. If you are interested you can read more about the background to the story here.


Behaving like that is just wrong, full stop.
(Macmillan Dictionary)

Wait until the bus comes to a full stop before attempting to get on or off.
(enTenTen15 corpus)

“She wasn’t ready to come to a full stop and she enjoyed another 10 years running a great middle school while enjoying all of the wonders of India and Asia.
(enTenTen15 corpus)

Related words

colon, comma, exclamation mark, semicolon

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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