Lauren Krueger & Matthew David Brozik

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In Definally on May 6, 2011 at 9:00 am

Ray A. inadvertently asked “Do you say exclamation point or exclamation mark?”

This is a question that has plagued Definally. for years, and we are grateful for the opportunity to put the matter to rest. In a moment.

The first (and only) dictionary that Definally. consulted has an entry for “exclamation point” with a parenthetical note that the alternative “exclamation mark” is chiefly British. Definally. thinks this distinction misses the point (or, as the British might say, misses the mark)… especially since the definition of “exclamation point” is a punctuation mark (!) indicating an exclamation.

Definally. has so many problems with that dictionary entry, we hardly know where to begin. That “(!)” is in the actual definition, but if it hadn’t been, Definally. would have put one in the quotation, in the very same place.

Definally. has decided to split the difference on this one, after all that, as follows:

When the exclamation itself is intended to make a point, then the punctuation device is an “exclamation point.” As in, You promised you’d stop pointing out inconsistencies in my logic!

When, on the other hand, the exclamation is merely intended as a cry of surprise, anger, pain, or what have you, then the device is an “exclamation mark.” As in, It’s Mark!

Thanks, Ray!

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  1. […] that combines the question mark (known to some as the “interrogative point”) and the exclamation point (known in printers’ jargon as a “bang”). It looks like this: […]

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