I. noun Etymology: Middle English, partly from Anglo-French, prick, dot, moment, from Latin punctum, from neuter of punctus, past participle of pungere to prick; partly from Anglo-French pointe sharp end, from Vulgar Latin *puncta, from Latin, feminine of punctus, past participle — more at pungent Date: 13th century 1. a. (1) an individual detail ; item (2) a distinguishing detail <
tact is one of her strong points
b. the most important essential in a discussion or matter <
missed the whole point of the joke
c. cogency 2. obsolete physical condition 3. an end or object to be achieved ; purpose <
did not see what point there was in continuing the discussion
4. a. a geometric element that has zero dimensions and a location determinable by an ordered set of coordinates b. (1) a narrowly localized place having a precisely indicated position <
walked to a point 50 yards north of the building
(2) a particular place ; locality <
have come from distant points
c. (1) an exact moment <
at this point I was interrupted
(2) a time interval immediately before something indicated ; verge <
at the point of death
d. (1) a particular step, stage, or degree in development <
had reached the point where nothing seemed to matter anymore
(2) a definite position in a scale 5. a. the terminal usually sharp or narrowly rounded part of something ; tip b. a weapon or tool having such a part and used for stabbing or piercing: as (1) arrowhead (2) spearhead c. (1) the contact or discharge extremity of an electric device (as a spark plug or distributor) (2) chiefly British an electric outlet 6. a. a projecting usually tapering piece of land or a sharp prominence b. (1) the tip of a projecting body part (2) tine 2 (3) plural the extremities or markings of the extremities of an animal especially when of a color differing from the rest of the body c. a railroad switch d. the head of the bow of a stringed instrument 7. a short musical phrase; especially a phrase in contrapuntal music 8. a. a very small mark b. (1) punctuation mark; especially period 5a (1) (2) decimal point 9. a lace for tying parts of a garment together used especially in the 16th and 17th centuries 10. one of usually 11 divisions of a heraldic shield that determines the position of a charge 11. a. one of the 32 equidistant spots of a compass card for indicating direction b. the difference of 11 1/4 degrees between two such successive points c. a direction indicated by a compass point <
from all points of the compass
12. a small detachment ahead of an advance guard or behind a rear guard 13. a. needlepoint 1 b. lace made with a bobbin 14. one of 12 spaces marked off on each side of a backgammon board 15. a unit of measurement: as a. (1) a unit of counting in the scoring of a game or contest (2) a unit used in evaluating the strength of a bridge hand b. a unit of academic credit c. (1) a unit used in quoting prices (as of stocks, bonds, and commodities) (2) plural a percentage of the face value of a loan often added as a placement fee or service charge (3) a percentage of the profits of a business venture (as a motion-picture production) d. a unit of about {frac1/72} inch used especially to measure the size of type 16. the action of pointing: as a. the rigidly intent attitude of a hunting dog marking game for a gunner b. the action in dancing of extending one leg and arching the foot so that only the tips of the toes touch the floor 17. a position of a player in various games (as lacrosse); also the player of such a position 18. a number thrown on the first roll of the dice in craps which the player attempts to repeat before throwing a seven — compare missout, pass 13 19. credit accruing from creating a good impression <
scored points for hard work
II. verb Date: 14th century transitive verb 1. a. to furnish with a point ; sharpen <
pointing a pencil with a knife
b. to give added force, emphasis, or piquancy to <
point up a remark
2. to scratch out the old mortar from the joints of (as a brick wall) and fill in with new material 3. a. (1) to mark the pauses or grammatical divisions in ; punctuate (2) to separate (a decimal fraction) from an integer by a decimal point — usually used with off b. to mark (as Hebrew words) with diacritics (as vowel points) 4. a. (1) to indicate the position or direction of especially by extending a finger <
point the way home
(2) to direct someone's attention to <
point the way to new knowledge — Elizabeth Hall
— usually used with out or up <
point out a mistake
points up the difference
b. of a hunting dog to indicate the presence and place of (game) by a point 5. a. to cause to be turned in a particular direction <
point a gun
pointed the boat upstream
b. to extend (a leg) and arch (the foot) in executing a point in dancing intransitive verb 1. a. to indicate the fact or probability of something specified <
everything points to a bright future
b. to indicate the position or direction of something especially by extending a finger <
point at the map
c. to direct attention <
can point with pride to their own traditions
d. to point game <
a dog that points well
2. a. to lie extended, aimed, or turned in a particular direction <
a directional arrow that pointed to the north
b. to execute a point in dancing 3. of a ship to sail close to the wind 4. to train for a particular contest

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.

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