Exclamation mark

Exclamation mark

Exclamation mark
apostrophe ( ’ ' )
brackets ( [ ], ( ), { }, ⟨ ⟩ )
colon ( : )
comma ( , )
dash ( , –, —, ― )
ellipsis ( …, ..., . . . )
exclamation mark ( ! )
full stop/period ( . )
guillemets ( « » )
hyphen ( )
hyphen-minus ( - )
question mark ( ? )
quotation marks ( ‘ ’, “ ”, ' ', " " )
semicolon ( ; )
slash/stroke ( / )
solidus ( )
Word dividers
space ( ) ( ) ( ) (␠) (␢) (␣)
interpunct ( · )
General typography
ampersand ( & )
at sign ( @ )
asterisk ( * )
backslash ( \ )
bullet ( )
caret ( ^ )
copyright symbol ( © )
dagger ( †, ‡ )
degree ( ° )
ditto mark ( )
inverted exclamation mark ( ¡ )
inverted question mark ( ¿ )
number sign/pound/hash ( # )
numero sign ( )
obelus ( ÷ )
ordinal indicator ( º, ª )
percent etc. ( %, ‰, )
pilcrow ( )
prime ( ′, ″, ‴ )
registered trademark ( ® )
section sign ( § )
service mark ( )
sound recording copyright ( )
tilde ( ~ )
trademark ( )
underscore/understrike ( _ )
vertical/broken bar, pipe ( ¦, | )
currency (generic) ( ¤ )
currency (specific)
( ฿ ¢ $ ƒ £ ¥ )
Uncommon typography
asterism ( )
tee ( )
up tack ( )
index/fist ( )
therefore sign ( )
because sign ( )
interrobang ( )
irony & sarcasm punctuation ( )
lozenge ( )
reference mark ( )
tie ( )
diacritical marks
whitespace characters
non-English quotation style ( « », „ ” )
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The exclamation mark, exclamation point, or bang, or "dembanger" is a punctuation mark usually used after an interjection or exclamation to indicate strong feelings or high volume (shouting), and often marks the end of a sentence. Example: “Watch out!” The character is encoded in Unicode at U+0021 ! exclamation point (33decimal, HTML: ! ). This punctuation mark is called, in the newspaper world, "a screamer, a gasper, [or] a startler".[1] It is sometimes called a "dog's cock" by typesetters.[2]



The exclamation mark comes from the term “note of admiration”, in which admiration referred to its Latin sense of wonderment. One theory of its origin is that it was originally a Latin exclamation of “joy” (io), written with the “I” above the “o”.

The exclamation mark was introduced into English printing in the 15th century, and was called the “sign of admiration or exclamation”[3] or the “note of admiration” until the mid-17th century.[4] In German orthography, the sign made its first appearance in the Luther Bible in 1797.[5]

The ! mark was not featured on standard manual typewriters before the 1970s. Instead, one typed a period, backspaced, and typed an apostrophe.[6] In the 900 , secretarial dictation and typesetting manuals referred to the mark as "bang,"[7][8] most likely adapted from comic books where the ! appeared in dialogue balloons to represent a gun being fired[9], although the nickname probably emerged from letterpress printing[10]. This bang usage is behind the titles of the interrobang, an uncommon typographic character, and a shebang line, a feature of unix computer systems.


A sentence ending in an exclamation mark is an actual exclamation (“Wow!”, “Boo!”), the imperative mood (“Stop!”), or intended to be astonishing or show astonishment: “They were the footprints of a gigantic hound!” Exclamation points can also be placed mid-sentence with a function similar to a comma: “On the walk, oh! there was a frightful noise.”[11]

Casually, exclamation marks may be repeated for additional emphasis ("That's great!!!"), but this practice is generally considered unacceptable in formal prose.[12]

The exclamation mark is sometimes used in conjunction with the question mark. This can be in protest or astonishment ("Out of all places; the squatter-camp?!") however this can be replaced with a single, nonstandard punctuation mark, the interrobang, which is the union of a question mark and an exclamation point. Again, this is informal.

Overly frequent use of the exclamation mark is generally considered poor writing, for it distracts the reader and reduces the mark's meaning.

Cut out all those exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own jokes.
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Some authors however, most notably Tom Wolfe, are known for unashamedly liberal use of the exclamation mark. In comic books, the very frequent use of exclamation mark is common—see Comics, below.

For information on the use of spaces after an exclamation mark, see the discussion of spacing after a full stop.

One study has shown that women use exclamation marks more than men do.[13]


The exclamation mark is common to languages using the Latin alphabet, although usage varies slightly between languages. The exclamation point is also used in languages with other scripts, such as Greek, Russian, Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese, Korean and Japanese but it has never been found in Hindi.


In French, next to marking exclamations or indicating astonishment, the exclamation mark is also commonly used to mark orders or requests: Viens ici ! (English: "Come here!"). A space (« espace fine ») is used between the last word and the exclamation mark.


In German, the exclamation mark has several specific uses for which English employs other forms of punctuation:

  • In the salutation line of a letter, for which English uses a comma: Lieber Hans! (English: "Dear Hans,") In this case, the first word of the following sentence begins with a capital letter. However, usage of a comma, as in English, is both also acceptable and far more common.
  • On signs, not just those warning of danger as discussed below, the exclamation mark is used to emphasize the sign's content: Betreten verboten! (English: "No trespassing")
  • At the end of an imperative sentence: Ruf mich morgen an! (English: "Call me tomorrow.")


In Spanish, a sentence or clause ending in an exclamation mark must also begin with an inverted exclamation mark (the same also applies to the question mark):

¿Estás loco? ¡Casi la matas! (English: "Are you crazy? You almost killed her!")

For informal written online communications, however, usage of inverted question and exclamation marks has become less common.


In Turkish, an exclamation mark is used after a sentence or phrase for emphasis, and is common following both commands and the addressees of such commands. For example, in Ordular! İlk hedefiniz Akdenizdir, ileri! ("Armies! Your first target is the Mediterranean Sea, forward!"), a famous order by Atatürk, ordular (the armies) constitute the addressee. It is further used in parentheses "(!)" after a sentence or phrase to indicate irony or sarcasm: Çok iyi bir iş yaptın (!) ("You've done a very good job – Not!").


In Khoisan languages, and the International Phonetic Alphabet, the exclamation mark is used as a letter to indicate the postalveolar click sound (represented as q in Zulu orthography). In Unicode, this letter is properly coded as U+01C3 ǃ latin letter retroflex click and distinguished from the common punctuation symbol U+0021 ! exclamation mark to allow software to deal properly with word breaks.

The exclamation point has sometimes been used as a phonetic symbol to indicate that a consonant is ejective. More commonly this is represented by an apostrophe, or a superscript glottal stop symbol (U+02C0 ˀ modifier letter glottal stop).


There is a punctuation mark intended to combine the functions of a question mark and an exclamation mark in English called interrobang, which resembles those marks superimposed over one another ("") but the sequence of "?!" or "!?" is used more often.

Proper names

Although exclamation marks are, as a standard, part of a complete sentence and not the spelling of individual words, they appear in many proper names, especially in commercial advertising. Prominent examples include the Web service Yahoo!, the game show Jeopardy! and the '60s musical TV show "Shindig!". The titles of the musicals Oklahoma!, Oliver! and Oh! Calcutta! and the movies Airplane! and Moulin Rouge! also contain exclamation points. Writer Elliot S! Maggin and cartoonist Scott Shaw! include exclamation marks in their names.

Place names

The English town of Westward Ho!, named after the novel by Charles Kingsley, is the only place name in the United Kingdom that officially contains an exclamation point. There is a town in Quebec called Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, which is spelled with two exclamation marks. The city of Hamilton, Ohio, changed its name to Hamilton! in 1986.[14]


Warning signs are often an exclamation point enclosed within a triangle

Exclamation points are used to emphasize a precautionary statement.

On warning signs, an exclamation mark is often used to draw attention to a warning of danger, hazards, and the unexpected. These signs are common in hazardous environments or on potentially dangerous equipment. A common type of this warning is a yellow triangle with a black exclamation point, but a white triangle with a red border is common on European road warning signs.


In writing and often subtitles, especially in British English, a (!) symbol (an exclamation point within parentheses) implies that a character has made an obviously sarcastic comment e.g.: "Ooh, a sarcasm detector. That's a really useful invention(!)"[15]


The mark is encoded as U+0021 ! exclamation mark (33decimal, HTML: ! ).
Related forms are encoded:

  • U+01C3 ǃ latin letter retroflex click (HTML: ǃ In IPA: alveolar click)
  • U+A71D modifier letter raised exclamation point
  • U+A71E modifier letter raised inverted exclamation point
  • U+A71F modifier letter low inverted exclamation point
  • U+2757 heavy exclamation point symbol
  • U+2762 heavy exclamation point ornament
  • U+2763 heavy heart exclamation point ornament
  • U+2048 question exclamation point
  • U+2049 exclamation question mark
  • U+203C double exclamation point
  • U+E0021 tag exclamation point
  • U+FE57 small exclamation point
  • U+FF01 fullwidth exclamation point

Some scripts have their own exclamation point:

Use in various fields


In mathematics, the symbol represents the factorial operation. The expression n! means "the product of the integers from 1 to n". For example, 4! (read four factorial) is 4 × 3 × 2 × 1 = 24. (0! is defined as 1, which is a neutral element in multiplication, not multiplied by anything.)


In computing, the exclamation mark (sometimes called a "bang")[16] corresponds to ASCII character 33 (21 in hexadecimal). It is therefore found in Unicode at U+0021 ! exclamation mark. The inverted exclamation mark is found in ISO-8859-1, 9 and 15 at position 161 (A1HEX) and in Unicode at U+00A1 ¡ inverted exclamation mark.

The name given to "!" by programmers varies according to their background. In the UK the term pling was popular in the earlier days of computing, whilst in the USA the term shriek was used.

Several computer languages use "!" for various meanings, most importantly for logical negation; e.g. A != B means "A is not equal to B", and !A means "the logical negation of A" (also called "not A"). It is claimed that these word usages were invented in the US and shriek is from Stanford or MIT; however, shriek for the ! sign is found in the Oxford English Dictionary dating from the 1860s.

Plings are also used in Acorn RISC OS to denote an application directory: a folder that when double clicked executes a program file inside called !Run. Other files in the appfolder generally contain resources the application needs to run. The appfolder can be viewed as a normal folder by double-clicking with the shift key held down. In addition, other special resource files such as !Boot (executed the first time the application containing it comes into view of the filer), !Sprites (an icon file containing icon definitions loaded if !Boot cannot be found) and !Help (a text, HTML or other executable file listed in the filer menu for the application) also start with a pling.

Early e-mail systems also used the exclamation mark as a separator character between hostnames for routing information, usually referred to as "bang path" notation.

In the IRC protocol, a user's nickname and ident are separated by an exclamation point in the hostmask assigned to him or her by the server.

In the Geek Code version 3, "!" is used before a letter to denote that the geek refuses to participate in the topic at hand. In some cases, it has an alternate meaning, such as G! denoting a geek of no qualifications, !d denoting not wearing any clothes, P! denoting not being allowed to use Perl, and so on. They all share some negative connotations however.

When computer programs display messages that alert the user, an exclamation mark may be shown alongside it to indicate that the message is important and should be read. This often happens when an error is made, or to obtain user consent for hazardous operations such as deleting data.

In UNIX scripting (typically for UNIX shell or Perl), "!" is usually used after a "#" in the first line of a script, the interpreter directive, to tell the OS what program to use to run the script. The "#!" is usually called a "hash-bang" or shebang.

An exclamation mark starts history expansions in many Unix shells such as bash and tcsh where !! executes the previous command and !* refers to all of the arguments from the previous command.

In the ML programming language (including Standard ML and OCaml), "!" is the operator to get the value out of a "reference" data structure.

In the Haskell programming language, "!" is used to express strictness.

In the Scheme and Ruby programming languages, "!" is conventionally the suffix for functions and special forms which mutate their input.

Video games

In the Metal Gear series of stealth games, a red exclamation point (!) appears above an enemy's head with a short, loud noise if they see the player. When this happens, the enemy will try to attack the player.

In the Pokémon series, rival trainers have an exclamation point appear above the head of other trainers when they spot the main character's trainer. In the first generation of Pokémon, every single statement in the game ends with an exclamation point. In certain Versions of the game an exclamation point also appears on the main character's head when they hook a fish on one of the game's three rods (Old Rod, Good Rod and Super Rod).

In the Paper Mario series, enemies have an exclamation point appear over their heads if they notice Mario, Luigi, Peach, or Bowser.

In the Warcraft series, NPCs having available quests for players are represented with an yellow exclamation point floating over their heads. If the quest is repeatable it is represented with a blue exclamation point.

In the Counter-Strike games, a green exclamation point appears above a player's head if this player uses a radio command.

Internet culture

In recent Internet culture, especially where leet is used, an excessive way of expressing exclamation in text is seen as !!!!!!111. This notation originates from the eagerness to add multiple exclamation points but failing to properly hit the Shift1 combination (which produces the mark on most keyboard layouts). Later this behavior has evolved into a sign of recognition for certain Internet cultures who now intentionally add 1s after their expressions either to ridicule people who do it without purpose or as a sign of recognition towards others who also are familiar with the behavior. As a further pun to this development of linguistics, some add literal ones such as !!!!!one!11 to explicitly state that their use of 1s was intentionally typed, since it is impossible to type 'one' by accident. Some people go as far as to type in eleven, as in: !!!!1one1!!eleven11, or even !!!!11one11cos(0).

In fandom and fanfiction, ! is used to signify a defining quality in a character, usually signifying an alternate interpretation of a character from a canonical work. Examples of this would be "Romantic!Draco" or "Vampire!Harry" from Harry Potter fandom. It is also used to clarify the current persona of a character with multiple identities or appearances, such as to distinguish "Armor!Al" from "Human!Al" in a work based on Fullmetal Alchemist. The origin of this usage is unknown, although it is hypothesized to have originated with certain Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures, for example, "Football Player! Leonardo", "Rockstar! Raphael", and "Breakdancer! Michelangelo".[citation needed]


This Action Comics cover from 1959 ends every sentence with an exclamation point or question mark. Often, few or no periods would be used in the entire book.

Some comic books, especially superhero comics of the mid-20th century, routinely use the exclamation point instead of the period, which means the character has just realized something; unlike when the question mark appears instead, which means the character is confused, surprised or he does not know what is happening. This tends to lead to exaggerated speech, in line with the other hyperboles common in comic books. A portion of the motivation, however, was simply that a period might disappear in the printing process used at the time, whereas an exclamation point would likely remain recognizable even if there was a printing glitch. For a short period Stan Lee, as Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics, attempted to curb their overuse by a short-lived ban on exclamation points altogether, which led to an inadvertent lack of ending punctuation on many sentences.[17]

Comic book writer Elliot S! Maggin once accidentally signed his name with an exclamation due to the habit of using them when writing comic scripts; it became his professional name from then on.[18][19] Similarly, comic artist Scott Shaw! has used the exclamation point after his name throughout his career.

In comic books and comics in general, a large exclamation point is often used in the proximity of a character's head to indicate surprise. A question mark can similarly be used to indicate confusion. This practice also appears in some computer and video games.


In chess notation "!" denotes a good move, "!!" denotes an excellent move, "?!" denotes a dubious move, and "!?" denotes an interesting, risky move. Likewise, in some chess variants such as large board Shogi variants, "!" is used to record pieces capturing by stationary feeding or burning.


Exclamation points or asterisks can be used on scorecards to denote a "great defensive play".[20]


In music, a band called "!!!" (pronounced 'Chk Chk Chk') uses exclamation points as its name.[21]

In 2008, the pop punk band Panic! At the Disco dropped the exclamation point in its name; this became the "most-discussed topic on [fan] message boards around the world".[22] In 2009, the exclamation mark was re-inserted following the band's split.[23]

See also


  1. ^ Truss, Lynn (2004). Eats, Shoot & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. New York: Gotham Books. p. 136. ISBN 1-592-40087-6. 
  2. ^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/apr/29/exclamation-mark-punctuation
  3. ^ MacKellar, Thomas (1885). The American Printer: A Manual of Typography, Containing Practical Directions for Managing all Departments of a Printing Office, As Well as Complete Instructions for Apprentices: With Several Useful Tables, Numerous Schemes for Imposing Forms in Every Variety, Hints to Authors, Etc. (Fifteenth - Revised and Enlarged ed.). Philadelphia: MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan. p. 65. http://books.google.com/books?id=T-0YAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA65#v=onepage&q&f=false. 
  4. ^ Truss, Lynne (2004). Eats, Shoots & Leaves: the zero tolerance approach to punctuation. New York: Gotham Books. p. 137. ISBN 1-59240-087-6. http://books.google.com/books?id=c3ETv37GqfcC&lpg=PP1&dq=Eats%2C%20Shoots%20%26%20Leaves&pg=PA137#v=onepage&q&f=false. 
  5. ^ Mathias, Wolfgang (8 October 2002). "From the Virgel to the Comma - The development of German punctuation" (in German) (Press release). Cologne University. http://www.uni-koeln.de/pi/i/2002.127.htm.  English tr.
  6. ^ Truss (2004), p. 135.
  7. ^ Wilkinson, Clyde (1955). Communicating through letters and reports. Richard Irwin. pp. 651. ISBN 0-256-02270-4. 
  8. ^ Hendrickson, Robert (1982). The literary life and other curiosities. Penguin Books. pp. 358. 
  9. ^ "ASCII Pronunciation Guide". http://ascii-table.com/pronunciation-guide.php#01. 
  10. ^ Haley, Allan. "Punctuation". http://www.dynamicgraphics.com/dgm/Article/28859/index.html. 
  11. ^ The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. “Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! — tear up the planks! — here, here! — it is the beating of his hideous heart!”
  12. ^ "Effective use of email". E-strategy guide. Government of Australia, Dept. of Broadband. January 23, 2008. http://www.e-strategyguide.gov.au/make_email_work/effective_email. Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
  13. ^ Gender and the Use of Exclamation Points in Computer-Mediated Communication: An Analysis of Exclamations Posted to Two Electronic Discussion Lists
  14. ^ Kemme, Steve (September 21, 2001). "City's gimmick made a point". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved 2010-08-26.
  15. ^ "Being sarcastic". Learning English - How To. BBC World Service. http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/radio/specials/1210_how_to_converse/page13.shtml. Retrieved 2008-07-31. 
  16. ^ Raymond, Eric S. (1996). The New Hacker's Dictionary (3rd ed.). The MIT Press. p. 55. ISBN 978-0262680929. 
  17. ^ Cronin, Brian (January 28, 2010). Comic Book Legends Revealed #245. Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2010-08-26.
  18. ^ Adams, Eury, Swan (2006). The Krypton Companion. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 141. ISBN 978-1-893905-61-0. Retrieved 2010-08-25.
  19. ^ Superman.nu Elliot S! Maggin Fan page.
  20. ^ Holz, Sean. Scoring Baseball - Advanced Symbols Baseball-Almanac.com
  21. ^ Seabrook, Andrea (May 17, 2007). "The Musicians of !!!: Making Their Own 'Myths' " (Audio: Flash or MP3). All Things Considered NPR. Retrieved 2010-08-26.
  22. ^ Montgomery, James; Elias, Matt (January 11, 2008). "Panic At The Disco Explain Excised Exclamation Point". Artist News MTV News. Retrieved 2010-08-26.
  23. ^ Maura (July 10, 2009). "Panic! At The Disco Post New Music, Restore Their Exclamation Point". Retrieved 2009-07-16.

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • exclamation mark — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms exclamation mark : singular exclamation mark plural exclamation marks the mark ! used in writing to show that someone says something suddenly and loudly because they are surprised, impressed, angry etc …   English dictionary

  • exclamation mark - exclamation point — In British English, the punctuation mark used as the end of an exclamation (!) is called an exclamation mark. In American English, it is called an exclamation point. See entry at ↑ Punctuation …   Useful english dictionary

  • exclamation mark — /ɛkskləˈmeɪʃən ˌmak/ (say ekskluh mayshuhn .mahk) noun 1. a punctuation mark (!) used after an exclamation. 2. British a road sign bearing a symbol resembling this mark, placed to give advance warning of some hazard. Also, exclamation point …   Australian-English dictionary

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  • exclamation mark — (N. Amer. exclamation point) noun a punctuation mark (!) indicating an exclamation …   English new terms dictionary

  • exclamation mark — n. punctuation mark used after an interjection or exclamation to indicate emphasis (!) …   English contemporary dictionary

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