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point (point)
1. A sharp or tapered end: the point of a knife; the point of the antenna.
2. An object having a sharp or tapered end: a stone projectile point.
3. A tapering extension of land projecting into water; a peninsula, cape, or promontory.
4. A mark formed by or as if by a sharp end.
5. A mark or dot used in printing or writing for punctuation, especially a period.
6. A decimal point.
7. Linguistics A vowel point.
8. One of the protruding marks used in certain methods of writing and printing for the blind.
9. Mathematics
a. A dimensionless geometric object having no properties except location.
b. An element in a geometrically described set.
a. A place or locality considered with regard to its position: connections to Chicago and points west.
b. A narrowly particularized and localized position or place; a spot: The troops halted at a point roughly 1,000 yards from the river.
11. A specified degree, condition, or limit, as in a scale or course: the melting point of a substance.
a. Any of the 32 equal divisions marked at the circumference of a mariner's compass card that indicate direction.
b. The interval of 11°15 between any two adjacent markings.
a. A distinct condition or degree: finally reached the point of exhaustion.
b. The interval of time immediately before a given occurrence; the verge: on the point of resignation; at the point of death.
14. A specific moment in time: At this point, we are ready to proceed.
15. An objective or purpose to be reached or achieved, or one that is worth reaching or achieving: What is the point of discussing this issue further?
16. The major idea or essential part of a concept or narrative: You have missed the whole point of the novel.
17. A significant, outstanding, or effective idea, argument, or suggestion: Your point is well taken.
18. A separate, distinguishing item or element; a detail: Diplomacy is certainly not one of his strong points. Your weak point is your constant need for approval.
19. A quality or characteristic that is important or distinctive, especially a standard characteristic used to judge an animal.
20. A single unit, as in counting, rating, or measuring.
a. A unit of academic credit usually equal to one hour of class work per week during one semester.
b. A numerical unit of academic achievement equal to a letter grade.
22. Sports & Games A unit of scoring or counting.
a. A unit equal to one dollar, used to quote or state variations in the current prices of stocks or commodities.
b. A unit equal to one percent, used to quote or state interest rates or shares in gross profits.
24. One percent of the total principal of a loan, paid up front to the lender and considered separately from the interest.
25. Music A phrase, such as a fugue subject, in contrapuntal music.
26. Printing A unit of type size equal to 0.01384 inch, or approximately 1/72 of an inch.
27. A jeweler's unit of weight equal to 2 milligrams or 0.01 carat.
a. The act or an instance of pointing.
b. The stiff and attentive stance taken by a hunting dog.
a. A reconnaissance or patrol unit that moves ahead of an advance party or guard, or that follows a rear guard.
b. The position occupied by such a unit or guard: A team of Rangers were walking point at the outset of the operation.
30. Sports
a. Either of two positions in ice hockey just inside the offensive zone near the boards, usually assumed by defenders attempting to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
b. Basketball A position in the forecourt beyond the top of the key, usually taken by the point guard.
c. In women's lacrosse, a defensive player who marks the opponent playing nearest to the goal (the first home).
a. An electrical contact, especially one in the distributor of an automobile engine.
b. Chiefly British An electrical socket or outlet.
32. points The extremities of an animal, such as a cat or horse, especially when they differ in color from the rest of the coat.
a. A movable rail, tapered at the end, such as that used in a railroad switch.
b. The vertex of the angle created by the intersection of rails in a frog or switch.
34. A ribbon or cord with a metal tag at the end, used to fasten clothing in the 16th and 17th centuries.
v. point·ed, point·ing, points
1. To direct or aim: point a weapon. See Synonyms at aim.
2. To bring (something) to notice: pointed out an error in their reasoning.
3. To indicate the position or direction of: pointed out the oldest buildings on the skyline.
4. To sharpen (a pencil, for example); provide with a point.
5. To separate with decimal points: pointing off the hundredths place in a column of figures.
6. To mark (text) with points; punctuate.
7. Linguistics To mark (a consonant) with a vowel point.
8. To give emphasis to; stress: comments that simply point up flawed reasoning.
9. To indicate the presence and position of (game) by standing immobile and directing the muzzle toward it. Used of a hunting dog.
10. To fill and finish the joints of (masonry) with cement or mortar.
1. To direct attention or indicate position with or as if with the finger.
2. To turn the mind or thought in a particular direction or to a particular conclusion: All indications point to an early spring.
3. To be turned or faced in a given direction; aim.
4. To indicate the presence and position of game. Used of a hunting dog.
5. Nautical To sail close to the wind.
beside the point
Irrelevant to the matter at hand.
in point
Having relevance or pertinence.
in point of
With reference to; in the matter of: In point of fact, I never lived at the address stated on the form.
make a point of
To consider or treat (an action or activity) as indispensable: made a point of visiting their niece on the way home.
stretch a point
To make an exception.
to the point
Concerning or with relevance to the matter at hand: remarks that were to the point; rambled and would not speak to the point.

[Middle English, partly from Old French point, prick, mark, moment (from Vulgar Latin *punctum, from Latin pūnctum, from neuter past participle of pungere, to prick) and partly from Old French pointe, sharp end (from Vulgar Latin *puncta, from Latin pūncta, from feminine past participle of pungere, to prick; see peuk- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots).]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.