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Definition: The combination of a question mark and an exclamation point, intended to convey either great surprise or a question being asked in an excited tone.

Pronunciation: in-terr-oh-bang


The creation of the interrobang is generally attributed to Martin K. Speckter, the head of an advertising agency, in 1962.  However, a version of it had existed for decades already in comic strips.  Speckter was responsible for its current version, and the name ‘interrobang’ was suggested by a reader of his magazine TYPEtalks.  The word itself is composed of the two words “interro-” short for interrogation and “bang” which was an old printer’s term for and exclamation mark.

Why this word?

Have you ever been simultaneously shocked, excited, and questioning at the same time?  Did you feel that language couldn’t quite accommodate your current feelings in written form?  If so, perhaps the interrobang was the solution to your problem.  If not, it’s just a cool sounding word.

How to use interrobang in a sentence?

Clearly interrobang is intended to be used more as a symbol than as a word.  However, here are examples of the word usage:

“When she told me she was pregnant, I’m fairly certain she could hear the interrobang at the end of the reaction.”

“I’m not sure which emotion held stronger sway, my excitement or my need to question him.  Both came out of me simultaneously, like an old-fashioned interrobang.”


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Written by Kate Fulton

Kate Fulton has a bachelor’s degree in classics and psychology from the University of Massachusetts and is working on a library science degree from Simmons College. She has always been fascinated by words- their usage, spelling, and etymology. Kate may be one of the few people who enjoyed the verbal section of the SAT. Yes, she is a word geek. Currently she bores her husband and young daughter with her love of vocabulary.


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