At point in time

a sharp or tapering end, as of a dagger.
a projecting part of anything:
A point of land juts into the bay.
a tapering extremity:
the points of the fingers.
something having a sharp or tapering end:
a pen point.
a pointed tool or instrument, as an etching needle.
a stone implement with a tapering end found in some Middle and Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic cultures and used primarily for hunting.
a mark made with or as if with the sharp end of something:
Her sharp heels left points in the carpet.
a mark of punctuation.
(def 15).
See under .
Phonetics. a diacritic indicating a vowel or other modification of sound.
one of the embossed dots used in certain systems of writing and printing for the blind.
something that has position but not extension, as the intersection of two lines.
a place of which the position alone is considered; spot:
We’re leaving for Chicago and points west.
any definite position, as in a scale, course, etc.:
the boiling point.
(in acupuncture) a particular spot on the body at which a needle may be inserted, as to relieve pain.
Navigation. any of 32 separate horizontal directions, 11° 15′ apart, as indicated on the card of a compass or gauged with reference to the heading of a vessel.
Nautical, .
a degree or stage:
frankness to the point of insult.
a particular instant of time:
It was at that point that I told him he’d said enough.
a critical position in a course of affairs:
Morale had reached a low point.
a decisive state of circumstances:
He reached the point where he could no longer pay his debts.
the important or essential thing:
the point of the matter.
the salient feature of a story, epigram, joke, etc.:
to miss the point.
a particular aim, end, or purpose:
He carried his point.
a hint or suggestion:
points on getting a job.
a single or separate article or item, as in an extended whole; a detail or particular:
the fine points of a contract.
an individual part or element of something:
noble points in her character.
a distinguishing mark or quality, especially one of an animal, used as a standard in stockbreeding, judging, etc.

the extremities of an animal, especially a horse or dog.
Railroads, British. a switch.

a single unit, as in counting.
a unit of count in the score of a game:
Our team won by five points.
(in craps) the number that must be thrown to win but not including 7 or 11 on the first roll:
Your point is 4.
Ice Hockey. either of two positions, to the right or left of the goal, to which an attacking defenseman is assigned, usually in the execution of a power play, to help keep the puck in the attacking zone.
Basketball. a position in the front court, usually taken by the guard in charge of setting up the team’s offense.

the position of the fielder who plays a short distance in front of and to the offside of the batsman.
the fielder playing this position.

Chiefly Boxing. the end or tip (of the chin).

the action of a hunting dog that indicates the presence and location of game by standing rigid and directing its head toward the game.
the position taken by a hunting dog in pointing game.

a branch of an antler of a deer:
an eight-point buck.
Sports. a cross-country run.
one of the narrow tapering spaces marked on a backgammon board.
Education. a single credit, usually corresponding to an hour’s class work per week for one semester.

Also called breaker point. either of a pair of contacts tipped with tungsten or platinum that make or break current flow in a distributor, as in an automobile.
British. an outlet or socket.


a unit of price quotation, as in the U.S., one dollar in stock transactions, one hundredth of a cent in cotton and coffee, or one cent in oil, grain, pork, etc.:
The price of stock went up two points today.
(especially in motion pictures) a percentage point, usually of the gross profits, granted to someone who agrees to invest or otherwise participate in a business project:
The star of the movie received a million dollar guarantee and five points.

one percent of the face value of a loan, especially a mortgage loan, added on as a placement fee or a service charge and paid in advance or upon closing of the loan.
Jewelry. a unit of weight equal to 1/100 (.01) of a carat.

a patrol or reconnaissance unit that goes ahead of the advance party of an advance guard, or follows the rear party of the rear guard.
the stroke in bayonet drill or combat.


a unit of type measurement in the U.S. and U.K. equal to 1/72 inch, or 1/12 pica.
Compare .
Also called press-point. (in a press) one of several metal prongs for perforating the sheet so that it will be in register when the reverse is printed.

a unit of measure of paper or card thickness, equal to 0.001 inch.
any lace made by hand.
Heraldry. one of the pendent parts of a label.

the vertex of the angle formed at a frog by two rails; the intersection of gauge lines in a switch or frog.
British. a tapering movable rail, as in a railroad switch.

(in the game of go) any place where lines intersect or meet.
act of pointing.
Archaic. a tagged ribbon or cord, formerly much used in dress, as for tying or fastening parts.
Obsolete. an end or conclusion.
Obsolete. a pointed weapon, as a dagger.
Obsolete, .
to direct (the finger, a weapon, the attention, etc.) at, to, or upon something.
to indicate the presence or position of (usually followed by out):
to point out an object in the sky.
to direct attention to (usually followed by out):
to point out the advantages of a proposal.
to furnish with a point or points; sharpen:
to point a lead pencil.
to mark with one or more points, dots, or the like.
Sculpture. to transfer measurements of depth from a clay, wax, or plaster model to (a block of stone) by means of an apparatus that drills holes to the required depth prior to carving.
to punctuate, as writing.
Phonetics. to mark (letters) with points.
to separate (figures) by dots or points (usually followed by off).
to give greater or added force to (often followed by up):
to point up the necessity for caution.
Hunting. (of a hunting dog) to indicate the presence and location of (game) by standing rigid and facing toward the game.

to fill the joints of (brickwork, stonework, etc.) with mortar or cement treated in various ways with tools after application.
to dress the surface of (a stone) with a pointed tool.

to dress (a stone) with a point.

to narrow the end of (a rod) for passing through the dies of a drawbench.
to narrow the end of (a tube) over the head of a pin that is gripped to pull the tube through the dies of a drawbench.

to indicate position or direction, as with the finger.
to direct the mind or thought in some direction; call attention to:
Everything points to his guilt.
to aim.
to have a tendency toward something:
Economic conditions point to further inflation.
to have a specified direction:
The sign pointed west.
to face in a particular direction, as a building.
Hunting. (of a hunting dog) to point game.
Nautical. to sail close to the wind.
(of an abscess) to come to a head.
at / on / upon the point of, on the verge of; close to:
on the point of death.
at this point in time, now; at this precise moment in history:
At this point in time the president believes peace has been achieved.
in point, that is pertinent; applicable:
a case in point.
in point of, as regards; in reference to:
in point of fact.
make a point of, to regard as important; insist upon:
She made a point of complimenting her friend’s apartment.
make points with, Informal. to curry favor with:
to make points with one’s boss.
Also, make Brownie points with.
strain / stretch a point, to depart from the usual procedure or rule because of special circumstances; make a concession or exception:
Though the position required three years of previous experience, and he had only two, they stretched a point because of his outstanding record.
to the point, pertinent; fitting:
The reply was short and to the point.
a dot or tiny mark
a location, spot, or position
any dot or mark used in writing or printing, such as a decimal point or a full stop
short for vowel point
the sharp tapered end of a pin, knife, etc
a pin, needle, or other object having such a point

a geometric element having no dimensions and whose position in space is located by means of its coordinates
a location: point of inflection

a promontory, usually smaller than a cape
a specific condition or degree
a moment: at that point he left the room
an important or fundamental reason, aim, etc: the point of this exercise is to train new teachers
an essential element or thesis in an argument: you’ve made your point, I take your point
a suggestion or tip
a detail or item
an important or outstanding characteristic, physical attribute, etc: he has his good points
a distinctive characteristic or quality of an animal, esp one used as a standard in judging livestock
(often pl) any of the extremities, such as the tail, ears, or feet, of a domestic animal
(ballet) (often pl) the tip of the toes
a single unit for measuring or counting, as in the scoring of a game
(Australian rules football) an informal name for behind (sense 11)
(printing) a unit of measurement equal to one twelfth of a pica, or approximately 0.01384 inch. There are approximately 72 points to the inch

a unit of value used to quote security and commodity prices and their fluctuations
a percentage unit sometimes payable by a borrower as a premium on a loan


one of the 32 marks on the circumference of a compass card indicating direction
the angle of 11°15′ between two adjacent marks
a point on the horizon indicated by such a mark


a fielding position at right angles to the batsman on the off side and relatively near the pitch
a fielder in this position

any of the numbers cast in the first throw in craps with which one neither wins nor loses by throwing them: 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10
either of the two electrical contacts that make or break the current flow in the distributor of an internal-combustion engine
(Brit) (often pl) a junction of railway tracks in which a pair of rails can be moved so that a train can be directed onto either of two lines US and Canadian equivalent switch
(often pl) a piece of ribbon, cord, etc, with metal tags at the end: used during the 16th and 17th centuries to fasten clothing
(backgammon) a place or position on the board

short for power point
an informal name for socket (sense 2)

an aggressive position adopted in bayonet or sword drill
(military) the position at the head of a body of troops, or a person in this position
the position of the body of a pointer or setter when it discovers game
(boxing) a mark awarded for a scoring blow, knockdown, etc
any diacritic used in a writing system, esp in a phonetic transcription, to indicate modifications of vowels or consonants
(jewellery) a unit of weight equal to 0.01 carat
the act of pointing
(hockey:Ice) the position just inside the opponents’ blue line
beside the point, not pertinent; irrelevant
case in point, a specific, appropriate, or relevant instance or example
in point of, in the matter of; regarding
make a point of

to make (something) one’s regular habit
to do (something) because one thinks it important

not to put too fine a point on it, to speak plainly and bluntly
on the point of, at the point of, at the moment immediately before a specified condition, action, etc, is expected to begin: on the point of leaving the room
score points off, to gain an advantage at someone else’s expense
stretch a point

to make a concession or exception not usually made
to exaggerate

to the point, pertinent; relevant
up to a point, not completely
usually foll by at or to. to indicate the location or direction of by or as by extending (a finger or other pointed object) towards it: he pointed to the front door, don’t point that gun at me
(intransitive; usually foll by at or to) to indicate or identify a specific person or thing among several: he pointed at the bottle he wanted, all evidence pointed to Donald as the murderer
(transitive) to direct or cause to go or face in a specific direction or towards a place or goal: point me in the right direction
(transitive) to sharpen or taper
(intransitive) (of gun dogs) to indicate the place where game is lying by standing rigidly with the muzzle turned in its direction
(transitive) to finish or repair the joints of (brickwork, masonry, etc) with mortar or cement
(transitive) (music) to mark (a psalm text) with vertical lines to indicate the points at which the music changes during chanting
to steer (a sailing vessel) close to the wind or (of a sailing vessel) to sail close to the wind
(transitive) (phonetics) to provide (a letter or letters) with diacritics
(transitive) to provide (a Hebrew or similar text) with vowel points

c.1200, “minute amount, single item in a whole; sharp end of a sword, etc.,” a merger of two words, both ultimately from Latin pungere “prick, pierce, puncture” (see pungent). The Latin neuter past participle punctum was used as a noun, meaning “small hole made by pricking,” subsequently extended to anything that looked like one, hence, “dot, particle,” etc. This yielded Old French point “dot; smallest amount,” which was borrowed in Middle English by c.1300.

Meanwhile the Latin fem. past participle of pungere was puncta, which was used in Medieval Latin to mean “sharp tip,” and became Old French pointe “point of a weapon, vanguard of an army,” which also passed into English, early 14c.

The senses have merged in English, but remain distinct in French. Extended senses are from the notion of “minute, single, or separate items in an extended whole.” Meaning “small mark, dot” in English is mid-14c. Meaning “distinguishing feature” is recorded from late 15c. Meaning “a unit of score in a game” is first recorded 1746. As a typeface unit (in Britain and U.S., one twelfth of a pica), it went into use in U.S. 1883. As a measure of weight for precious stones (one one-hundredth of a carat) it is recorded from 1931.

The point “the matter being discussed” is attested from late 14c.; meaning “sense, purpose, advantage” (usually in the negative, e.g. what’s the point?) is first recorded 1903. Point of honor (1610s) translates French point d’honneur. Point of no return (1941) is originally aviators’ term for the point in a flight “before which any engine failure requires an immediate turn around and return to the point of departure, and beyond which such return is no longer practical.”

late 14c., “indicate with the finger;” c.1400, “wound by stabbing; make pauses in reading a text; seal or fill openings or joints or between tiles,” partly from Old French pointoier “to prick, stab, jab, mark,” and also from point (n.).

Mid-15c. as “to stitch, mend.” From late 15c. as “stitch, mend;” also “furnish (a garment) with tags or laces for fastening;” from late 15c. as “aim (something).” Related: Pointed; pointing. To point up “emphasize” is from 1934; to point out is from 1570s.

point (point)

A sharp or tapered end.

A slight projection.

A stage or condition reached.

v. point·ed, point·ing, points
To become ready to open, as an abscess or boil.
A geometric object having no dimensions and no property other than its location. The intersection of two lines is a point.

In geometry, a location having no dimension — no length, height, or width — and identified by at least one coordinate.


The jaw (1925+ Prizefighting)
A hypodermic needle; spike (1960s+ Narcotics)
(also point man) A forward reconnaissance man; lookout man; scout who warns his associates of danger and may get the first shock of attack: He is the point man for organized labor (1940s+ Armed forces & underworld)

Related Terms

brownie points

point in time
point of no return
point of view
point out
point the finger at
point up

also see:

at sword’s point
at that point
at this point
belabor the point
beside the point
boiling point
brownie points
case in point
get to the point
hit the high spots (points)
in (point of) fact
in point
jumping-off place (point)
make a point of
make one’s point
miss the point
moot point
on the point of
possession is nine points of the law
sore point
stretch a point
strong point
take someone’s point
to the point
up to a point
win on points


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