AskDefine | Define phrase

Dictionary Definition



1 an expression forming a grammatical constituent of a sentence but not containing a finite verb
2 a short musical passage [syn: musical phrase]
3 an expression whose meanings cannot be inferred from the meanings of the words that make it up [syn: idiom, idiomatic expression, phrasal idiom, set phrase] v : put into words or an expression; "He formulated his concerns to the board of trustees" [syn: give voice, formulate, word, articulate]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • , /fɹeɪz/, /fr\eIz/
  • Rhymes: -eɪz


From phrasis (diction) < φράσις (manner of expression), from φράζειν (to tell, to express).



  1. A short written or spoken expression.
  2. A word or group of words that functions as a single unit in the syntax of a sentence, usually consisting of a head, or central word, and elaborating words. In the noun phrase the big bird, for example, the noun, bird is the head.
  3. A small section of music in a larger piece.


short written or spoken expression
  • Arabic: (júmla) , (sijāq) ,
  • Chinese: 片語, 片语 (piàn yǔ)
  • Dutch: uitspraak
  • trreq Esperanto
  • Finnish: fraasi, lause
  • French: expression
  • German: Redewendung
  • Greek: φράση (frási)
  • Hebrew: צרוף לשון (tzeirüf lashon) g Hebrew
  • Hungarian: mondás, kifejezés
  • Icelandic: frasi, málsháttur
  • trreq Indonesian
  • Irish: frása
  • Italian: espressione
  • Japanese: (く, ku)
  • trreq Latvian
  • Lithuanian: žodžių junginys
  • trreq Mongolian
  • trreq Persian
  • Polish: zdanie
  • Portuguese: expressão, locução
  • Russian: фраза, выражение
  • Spanish: frase
  • Swedish: fras, uttryck
  • Thai: (wálee)
  • trreq Turkish
grammar: group of two or more words that express an idea but do not form a complete sentence
music: small section of music in a larger piece
  • Catalan: frase
  • Finnish: fraasi
  • French: phrase
  • Greek: φράση (frási)
  • Hungarian: frázis
  • Italian: frase
  • Swedish: fras


  1. To perform a passage with the correct phrasing.
  2. To express (an action, thought or idea) by means of words.
  3. To divide into melodic phrases.

Derived terms

Related terms


music: to perform a passage with the correct phrasing
  • Swedish: frasera
to express by means of words
music: to divide into melodic phrases
  • French: phraser
  • Swedish: frasera



IPA: /fʁaz/


fr-noun f
  1. (false friend) sentence

Extensive Definition

In grammar, a phrase is a group of words that functions as a single unit in the syntax of a sentence.
For example the house at the end of the street (example 1) is a phrase. It acts like a noun. It contains the phrase at the end of the street (example 2), a prepositional phrase which acts like an adjective. Example 2 could be replaced by white, to make the phrase the white house. Examples 1 and 2 contain the phrase the end of the street (example 3) which acts like a noun. It could be replaced by the cross-roads to give the house at the cross-roads.
Most phrases have a or central word which defines the type of phrase. This word is called the head of the phrase. In English the head is often the first word of the phrase. Some phrases, however, can be headless. For example, the rich is a noun phrase composed of a determiner and an adjective, but no noun.
Phrases may be classified by the type of head they take

Formal definition

A phrase is a syntactic structure which has syntactic properties derived from its head.


A complex phrase consists of several words, whereas a simple phrase consists of only one word. This terminology is especially often used with verb phrases:
  • simple past and present are simple verb, which require just one verb
  • complex verb have one or two aspects added, hence require additional two or three words
"Complex", which is phrase-level, is often confused with "compound", which is word-level. However, there are certain phenomena that formally seem to be phrases but semantically are more like compounds, like "women's magazines", which has the form of a possessive noun phrase, but which refers (just like a compound) to one specific lexeme (i.e. a magazine for women and not some magazine owned by a woman).

Semiotic approaches to the concept of "phrase"

In more semiotic approaches to language, such as the more cognitivist versions of construction grammar, a phrasal structure is not only a certain formal combination of word types whose features are inherited from the head. Here each phrasal structure also expresses some type of conceptual content, be it specific or abstract.

See also

External links

phrase in Breton: Rannfrazenn
phrase in Bulgarian: Фонетично членение на речта
phrase in Catalan: Sintagma
phrase in Danish: Frase
phrase in German: Phrase (Linguistik)
phrase in Spanish: Sintagma
phrase in Esperanto: Frazo
phrase in French: Syntagme
phrase in Galician: Sintagma
phrase in Korean: 구 (연어-물고기)
phrase in Indonesian: Frasa
phrase in Italian: Sintagma
phrase in Hebrew: צירוף (בלשנות)
phrase in Dutch: Zinsdeel
phrase in Japanese: 句
phrase in Portuguese: Sintagma
phrase in Russian: Фраза
phrase in Albanian: Fraza
phrase in Simple English: Phrase
phrase in Finnish: Lauseke (kielitiede)
phrase in Swedish: Fras (grammatik)
phrase in Thai: วลี
phrase in Ukrainian: Cловосполучення
phrase in Chinese: 词组
phrase in Yiddish: פראזע (לינגוויסטיק)

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Parthian shot, adage, address, adjectival phrase, affirmation, allegation, ana, anacrusis, analects, answer, aphorism, apostrophe, apothegm, article, articulate, assertion, averment, axiom, back matter, bass passage, book, bourdon, breathe, bridge, burden, byword, cadence, catchword, chapter, chestnut, chime, choice of words, chorus, clause, cliche, coda, collected sayings, collocation, colloquialism, column, come out with, comment, commonplace, communicate, composition, conceive, convey, couch, couch in terms, crack, current saying, declaration, delineate, deliver, describe, development, dialect, dictate, diction, dictum, disclose, distich, division, embody in words, emit, enunciate, epigram, exclamation, exposition, express, expression, fascicle, figure, fling off, folderol, folio, formularize, formulate, formulation, frame, front matter, gathering, give, give expression, give expression to, give out with, give tongue, give utterance, give voice, give words to, glosseme, gnome, golden saying, grammar, greeting, harmonic close, icon, idiom, impart, installment, interjection, interlude, intermezzo, introductory phrase, language, leitmotiv, let out, lexeme, lexical form, lip, livraison, locution, manner of speaking, maxim, measure, mention, moral, morpheme, mot, motif, motive, motto, movement, musical phrase, musical sentence, note, noun phrase, number, observation, oracle, ornament, out with, page, paragraph, parlance, part, passage, period, phonate, phraseology, phrasing, pithy saying, platitude, position, pour forth, precept, prescript, present, pronounce, pronouncement, proverb, proverbial saying, proverbs, put, put forth, put in words, question, raise, reflection, refrain, remark, resolution, response, rhetoric, rhetorize, ritornello, saw, say, saying, section, semasiological unit, sememe, sentence, sententious expression, serial, set forth, set out, sheet, sign, signature, signifiant, significant, slogan, sloka, sound, speech, stanza, state, statement, stock saying, strain, style, subject, subjoinder, sutra, symbol, syntax, tailpiece, talk, teaching, tell, term, text, theme, thought, throw off, token, tutti, tutti passage, type, usage, use of words, usus loquendi, utter, utterance, variation, verb phrase, verbalize, verbiage, verse, vocabulary, vocalize, voice, volume, way of speaking, whisper, wisdom, wisdom literature, wise saying, witticism, word, word-group, wordage, wording, words of wisdom, write
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1