Interrobang: everything you need to know

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Written By Maureen

The Interrobang: You've never heard of the interrobang!?

[Tweet “The best punctuation mark ever invented!?”] The other day I was shocked to learn that one of my good friends did not know the meaning of ‘interrobang’. Shortly after hearing this I proceeded to explain to them that it was, in fact, the best punctuation mark ever invented in the English language. She continued to look at me baffled and made comments about how I was “an odd one”.

Now myself, a constant and frequent user of the interrobang, was almost offended to hear this. After finding out that one of my good friends was missing out on the excitement and knowledge of the world of interrobang, I began to quiz a few of my other friends. They, after being told that an interrobang was the combination of a question mark and an exclamation mark, understood and made the universal noise of understanding: ‘Ahhhh’.

After completing this quiz, I proceeded to research the apparently infamous interrobang. I now have far too much knowledge on this subject and thus must share it with you.

The interrobang was first used by the American publisher Martin K. Speckter in 1962. His idea was brought about because he thought that readers and viewers would be more involved and excited if advertisements could ask surprising rhetorical questions using a single mark. The other names he came up with but were not chosen where exclamaquest, QuizDing, rhet, and exclarotive. He chose this name because the Latin root interrogatio means rhetorical question or cross-examination and bang is publishers’ slang for the exclamation mark (journalists, on the other hand, call it a ‘screamer’).

Now that you have all been enlightened on the meaning and history of the English language’s most exciting punctuation mark, I hope you can go back to your lives and use your new knowledge. [Tweet “How will you bring the interrobang into your writing?!”]

Rachel Innes, Creative Services Intern, The Copy Collective