To give additional emphasis, authors
sometimes end interrogatory exclamations with ?! ; what is this punctuation mark called?
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I haven't been able to find any
etymological information for the interrobang. If anyone knows anything, please
send it to me and I will post it on the site.
You can read about the
interrobang's origins at http://www.interrobang-mks.com/
This is the first site thrown up by Google -- but
only if you spell it with the double-R. This yields more than 15,000 hits, as
opposed to 54 for interobang, yet for some
reason Google doesn't ask "Did you mean interrobang?"
That's the lesser of two problems with this
question. The greater problem is that the term refers, not to the question and
exclamation marks used together, but to a single punctuation mark combining the
[Mootguy: Thanks. Changes made]
Here's an excerpt from www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interrobang :
American Martin K. Speckter concocted the
interrobang itself in 1962. As the head of an advertising agency, Speckter
believed that ads would look better if advertising copywriters conveyed
surprised queries using a single mark.
He proposed the interrobang concept in an article in the
magazine TYPEtalks. Speckter solicited possible
names for the new character from readers.
Contenders included rhet, exclarotive,
and exclamaquest, but he settled on
interrobang. Speckter chose the name to
reference the punctuation marks that inspired it.
Latin for question or query; bang is
printer's slang for exclamation point. Graphic
treatments for the new mark were also submitted in response to the
In 1966, Richard Isbell of
American Type Founders issued the Americana typeface and included the
interrobang as one of the characters. In 1968, an interrobang key was available
on some Remington typewriters.
interrobang was in vogue for much of the 1960s, with the word 'interrobang'
appearing in some dictionaries and the mark itself being featured in magazine
and newspaper articles. The interrobang failed to amount to more than a fad,
however, never becoming a standard punctuation mark. Most fonts don't include
But it has not disappeared:
Microsoft provides several versions of the interrobang character as part of the
Wingdings 2 character set available with Microsoft Office; it is present in the
fonts Lucida Sans UniConcise Oxford Dictionarye and Arial UniConcise Oxford
Dictionarye MS; and it has the 0x203D UniConcise Oxford Dictionarye.
My dad was a printer of
the hot-metal type era and I know this symbol was in use then though it was
just a single character with the exclamation point superimposed on top of the
As I recall, the name
is an acronym from combining "interrogative" with "bang" (printer slang for an
exclamation point). My dad left behind a number of printing reference books
which unfortunately I got rid of a few months ago when we moved. Don't know if
they would have had more info on this or not.
This is mentioned in an old TV special called "The
Strange Case of the English Language"...I think it was a precursor of the 60
minutes show. One of the interviewees mentions the interrobang and (I think)
identifies himself as the source. The film used to be available at BCIT, but
may have been "retired" as it's well over 30 years old. It's well worth
watching ...especially for clips of interviews with Peter Ustinov.
I remember seeing a poster in high
school, 1967-71, that showed this to be a question mark superimposed upon an an
exclamation point. "bang!" is printer-speak for an exclamation point.
Actually, I think "?!" and
not "!?" is the interrobang, since interrobang suggests the question mark
first, then the exclamation mark. In Britain, "bang" is slang for the
exclamation mark; and "?" is sometimes called the "interrogation mark"
(certainly in French it is "point d'interrogation")
[Mootguy: Thanks. Change
Mr. Speckter called his mark INTERROBANG from the
Latin for query and the proofreader's term for exclamation. Most dictionaries
have spelled the word correctly, although several other spellings with no
logical genesis have appeared.
find an interrobang in Microsoft Word's Fonts. Go to Format, choose Fonts, then
Wingdings 2. You'll find 4 different versions of the interrobang. Hit the ` ~
key, the ] } key, the 6 ^ key, or the - _ key.
Complete info on:
i tell my students NEVER to do that.
now, i must eat my words! thanks for the reality check!! the
interrobang...hmmm. i like it!
Actually, I think "?!" and not "!?" is the
interrobang, since interrobang suggests the question mark first, then the
In Britain, "bang" is
slang for the exclamation mark; and "?" is sometimes called the "interrogation
mark" (certainly in French it is "point d'interrogation")
It may be that "!?" is essentially the same as "?!"
and therefore carries the same name of "interrobang," but for example as a
chess notation, there is a definite difference ("?!" is a strange move that is
probably bad, whereas "!?" is a strange move that might actually be good). To
me, "?!" is about expressing incredulity, whereas "!?" is just about yelling a
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