• 217. The Comma Butterfly
    217. The Comma Butterfly
  • WordNet 3.6
    • n comma anglewing butterfly with a comma-shaped mark on the underside of each hind wing
    • n comma a punctuation mark (,) used to indicate the separation of elements within the grammatical structure of a sentence
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: In 1850, Michigan's state constitution included the following line: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime, shall ever be tolerated in this state." This inadvertently legalized slavery as an appropriate punishment for crime. It wasn't until 1963 that the grammar was fixed to outlaw slavery. The change required shifting the comma following "servitude" to the position after "slavery."
    • Comma A character or point [,] marking the smallest divisions of a sentence, written or printed.
    • Comma (Mus) A small interval (the difference between a major and minor half step), seldom used except by tuners.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n comma In ancient Grammar and rhetoric, a group of a few words only; a phrase or short clause, forming part of a colon or longer clause.
    • n comma In ancient prosody: A fragment or smaller section of a colon; a group of a few words or feet not constituting a complete metrical series.
    • n comma The part of a dactylic hexameter ending with, or that beginning with, the cesura; also, the cesura itself.
    • n comma A clause.
    • n comma In rhetoric, a slight pause between two phrases, clauses, or words.
    • n comma In musical acoustics: The interval between the octave of a given tone and the tone produced by taking six successive whole steps from the given tone, represented by the ratios , or 531441:524288. Also called the Pythagorean comma, or comma maxima.
    • n comma The interval between the larger and the smaller whole steps, represented by the ratio , or 81:80. Also called the Didymic or syntonic comma.
    • n comma In punctuation, a point (,) used to indicate the smallest interruptions in continuity of thought or grammatical construction, the marking of which contributes to clearness.
    • n comma A spot or mark shaped like such a comma.
    • n comma In entomology: A butterfly, Grapta comma-album: so named from a comma-shaped white mark on the under side of the wings.
    • n comma [capitalized] [NL.] A genus of lepidopterous insects.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Comma kom′a (Shak.) a short part of a sentence: in punctuation, the point (,) which marks the smallest division of a sentence:
    • n Comma kom′a (fig.) a brief interval
    • ***


  • Amos Traver
    Amos Traver
    “Death is not a period, but a comma in the story of life.”
  • Elwyn Brooks White
    “Commas in The New Yorker fall with the precision of knives in a circus act, outlining the victim.”
  • Mistinguett
    “A kiss can be a comma, a question mark or an exclamation point. That's basic spelling that every woman ought to know.”
  • Oscar Wilde
    “This morning I took out a comma and this afternoon I put it back in again.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
L. comma, part of a sentence, comma, Gr. clause, fr. to cut off. Cf. Capon
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
L.,—Gr. komma, a section of a sentence, from koptein, to cut off.


In literature:

He is strongest in the punctuations and other signs; he has a pepper-box full of commas always by his side.
"A Budget of Paradoxes, Volume II (of II)" by Augustus de Morgan
Why, she doesn't even know how to spell, and her periods and commas are in a hopeless tangle.
"A Black Adonis" by Linn Boyd Porter
Our ancestors knew nothing of our mode of making genitives by turned commas.
"Notes and Queries, Number 203, September 17, 1853" by Various
The comma printed by 1690 is probably a mistake and we should read 'Wellman his Guards'.
"The Works of Aphra Behn" by Aphra Behn
In yet others, the date is followed by a comma and then the entry proper.
"In Eastern Seas" by J. J. Smith
Looking at the first sentence, we find two elements of equal rank separated by a comma.
"English: Composition and Literature" by W. F. (William Franklin) Webster
We have separated, of hosts, from the preceding appellation of God by a comma.
"Christology of the Old Testament: And a Commentary on the Messianic Predictions, v. 1" by Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg
He now used it even as some ladies use inverted commas, or other commas, in writing.
"The Record of Nicholas Freydon" by A. J. (Alec John) Dawson
If in doubt about the need of a comma, omit it.
"News Writing" by M. Lyle Spencer
In the color notes, a series of colors set off by commas indicates that each series may be used alone for the whole design.
"Philippine Mats" by Hugo H. Miller
Thomas Campbell walked six miles to a printer's to have a comma in one of his poems changed to a semi-colon.
"The So-called Human Race" by Bert Leston Taylor
A comma after "ring," another after "gift," and the omission of the dash, will restore the true meaning of the sentence.
"Notes and Queries, Number 238, May 20, 1854" by Various
Sometimes you're a comma and I've known you to be a semicolon, but when, oh, when have you come to a full stop?
"Molly Brown's Sophomore Days" by Nell Speed
Not so much as a comma can be shared.
"An Unknown Lover" by Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey
I won't put a comma in that you don't want.
"Thirty" by Howard Vincent O'Brien
All the blands are with a coat and more is coach with commas.
"Geography and Plays" by Gertrude Stein
I applied to my friend Dr Henry Jackson, who pointed out that the apparent error arises from the absence of a comma.
"Springtime and Other Essays" by Francis Darwin
The comma is often omitted after the period in footnotes.
"Abbreviations and Signs" by Frederick W. Hamilton
A point is sometimes substituted for the + sign, and a comma for the - sign.
"The Mechanism of Life" by Stéphane Leduc
The first member for our consideration is the Comma Butterfly, of which an illustration is given in Plate III, fig.
"Butterflies and Moths" by William S. Furneaux

In poetry:

Their facts are going headlong on the tides,
Like commas on a line of History's page;
Nor that which once they took for Truth abides,
Save in the form of youth enlarged from age.
"Il Y A Cent Ans" by George Meredith

In news:

President Bush, shown campaigning for Bob Beauprez, the GOP candidate for Colorado governor, calls the current difficult time in Iraq "just a comma ".
I am also sweet on commas and an occasional question mark.
'Comma' Delivers Generous Exclamation Point .
Comma to the Top streaks to victory in the Generous.
Just look at how the serial comma has suffered by the AP endorsement of dropping it from a simple series.
I've been having debates with fellow writers on the merits of using dashes over commas (specifically to separate parenthetical clauses) and vice-versa.
New York band dons Halloween makeup and also plays "Oxford Comma".
Enter up to 3 valid e-mail addresses separated by commas.
In an office where the placement of a comma can cause a fight, imagine the battle that goes on when it comes time to read and select the winners – and the best of the rest – of the Weekly 's 101 Word Short Story Contest.
Rogue comma in court document uh-oh (Walt Nett 's blog).
It is time to celebrate the commonplace comma, the overexcitable exclamation point and, yes, even the lowly period.
It is unknown what caused Cummings to collapse and fall into a comma.
Rule #3: Always put terminal punctuation (commas, periods) inside the quotation marks .
The Economist doesn't have a ruling on comma splices in the style book, but I don't recall ever having seen one in the newspaper.
My English teacher's injunction gave me a terror-loathing of comma splices that has never left me.

In science:

A and B are any operators, then hAi will stand for hAφ, φi, while the composition AB understood as (AB )x = A(Bx) will be denoted using comma, i.e. A, B := AB .
Moments and $q$-commutators of noncommutative random vectors
The label of a 3-nonnesting open permutation diagram is [h, r1 , s1 ] (we use commas instead of semicolons in this section).
A generating tree approach to k-nonnesting partitions and permutations
An illuminating point of view on this notion is provided by the concept of comma category, originally introduced by F. W.
A general method for building reflections
On the other hand, considering that every adjunction can be naturally obtained as a composite of a reflection with a coreflection (through the comma category construction), the choice of concentrating the analysis on reflections does not appear as a particularly restrictive one.
A general method for building reflections
We adhere to the same parenthesization and precedence rules as the λ-calculus with the following addition: collection is of lowest precedence and the comma is right associative.
Extending the Lambda Calculus to Express Randomized and Quantumized Algorithms
Identifying collections with different orders is a workaround for the sequentiality and specificity of the comma operator.
Extending the Lambda Calculus to Express Randomized and Quantumized Algorithms
Aside, it no longer matters that we took the comma to be right associative since, with these rules, any arbitrary parenthesization of a collection does not change the syntactic structure.
Extending the Lambda Calculus to Express Randomized and Quantumized Algorithms
When polarization was detected in more than one jet component at a given epoch, multiple entries separated by commas are given.
Analysis of 6cm VLBI polarization observations of a complete sample of northern BL Lacertae Objects
The comma indicates ordinary partial derivatives.
The inverse mean curvature flow in ARW spaces--transition from big crunch to big bang
In particular, I will abbreviate coordinate derivatives by subscript commas, use the Einstein summation convention of summing over repeated indices, and denote functional derivatives by δ rather than ∂ .
Albert Einstein's 1916 Review Article on General Relativity
The presentation of Girard’s Light Linear Logic [Gir98] by sequent calculus has the comma delimiter, which implicitly denotes the ⊕-connective.
P-time Completeness of Light Linear Logic and its Nondeterministic Extension
The comma delimiter also appears in Girard’s proof nets for Light Linear Logic.
P-time Completeness of Light Linear Logic and its Nondeterministic Extension
We try to exclude the comma delimiter from our proof nets.
P-time Completeness of Light Linear Logic and its Nondeterministic Extension
The symbols of primary and secondary entity-types associated with dyads are separated by a comma and placed between square brackets, e.g., [x1 , x2 ], where x1 denotes the primary entity-type, and x2 denotes the secondary entity-type.
Construction of bipartite and unipartite weighted networks from collections of journal papers
A ∩ ¯B ) = N (a+ , not − b+ ) where now both N arguments (separated by a comma) are particle-1 pro jections.
A Question of Self-consistent Semifactuality