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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

A Word A Day — interrobang

September 26, 2012

Word of the Day

  • interrobang
  • audio pronunciation
  • \in-TAIR-uh-bang\


: a punctuation mark ‽ designed for use especially at the end of an exclamatory rhetorical question

The essay was peppered with interrobangs and exclamation points, communicating—intentionally or not—an incredulity and outrage that didn't feel very hospitable.

"Inevitably, however, you'll cheat on the Period with the Ampersand, Semi-Colon, or possibly the Interrobang." — From an article by Jen Doll in the Atlantic Wire, August 21, 2012


Most punctuation marks have been around for centuries, but not the interrobang: it's a product of the 1960s. The mark gets its name from the punctuation that it is intended to combine. "Interro" is from "interrogation point," the technical name for the question mark, and "bang" is printers' slang for the exclamation point. The interrobang is not commonly used—its absence from standard keyboards can explain its paucity in print perhaps just as well as its paucity in print can explain its absence from standard keyboards. Most writers who want to communicate what the interrobang communicates continue to do as they did before the advent of the mark, throwing in !? or ?! as they feel so moved.

From Merriam-Webster Online at

Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.