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interrobang

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(Unicode code point U+203D)

The interrobang

Definition:

A nonstandard mark of punctuation in the form of a question mark superimposed on an exclamation point (sometimes appearing as ?!), used to end a rhetorical question or a simultaneous question and exclamation. See also:


Etymology:

Blend of interrogation and bang, an old printer’s term for the exclamation mark. Though editor Martin K. Speckter is generally credited with the mark's invention in 1962 (its name was suggested by a reader of Speckter's magazine, TYPEtalks), a version of the interrobang had already been used for decades in the speech balloons of comic strips.

Examples and Observations:

  • "From 1956 to 1969, Mr. Speckter was president of Martin K. Speckter Associates Inc. . . . In 1962, Mr. Speckter developed the interrobang, since recognized by several dictionaries and some type and typewriter companies.

    "The mark is said to be the typographical equivalent of a grimace or a shrug of the shoulders. It applied solely to the rhetorical, Mr. Speckter said, when a writer wished to convey incredulity.

    "For example, the interrobang would be used in an expression like this: 'You call that a hat?!'"
    ("Martin K. Speckter, 73, Creator of Interrobang," The New York Times, February 16, 1988)


  • "The interrobang, the first new punctuation mark to have been introduced in three hundred years and the only one invented by an American, is also featured in Americana [font]."
    (Mac McGrew, "Americana," American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century, 1993)
Pronunciation: in-TER-eh-bang

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