An ellipsis is a type of punctuation mark. In writing, it is a row of three dots (...) or asterisks (* * *). It must only be three dots; it is never acceptable to use two or four, even if one intends a shorter or longer pause. Its name comes from Greek ἔλλειψις (omission/falling short).
It is also called a suspension point, points of ellipsis or periods of ellipsis. When speaking, it can be referred to as "dot-dot-dot". An ellipsis is sometimes used to show a pause in speech or an unfinished thought. It is often used at the end of a sentence to mean a trailing off into silence (aposiopesis). For example:
- So much more could be said...
- "...one day all Americans will live peacefully throughout the world...they will be at peace with all other world inhabitants..."
- Bringhurst, Robert (2002). The Elements of Typographic Style (version 2.5), pp 82–83. Vancouver: Hartley & Marks. ISBN 0-88179-133-4.
- Morris, William (1980). The Houghton Mifflin Canadian Dictionary of the English Language, page 424 (spacing of dots: . . .). Markham, Ontario: Houghton Mifflin Canada. ISBN 0-395-29654-4.