exclamation mark

exclamation mark
exclamation mark
In ordinary writing, the exclamation mark (!) should be used sparingly, and in particular should not be used to add a spurious sense of drama or sensation to writing that is otherwise undramatic or unsensational, or to signal the humorous intent of a comment whose humour might otherwise go unrecognized. There are a number of established uses:
1. To mark a command or warning: Go to your room! / Be careful!.
2. To indicate the expression of a strong feeling of absurdity, surprise, approval, dislike, regret, etc., especially after how or what: What a suggestion! / How awful! / Aren't they odd! / What a good idea! / They are revolting! / I hate you!.
3. To express a wish or feeling of regret: I'd love to come! / If only I had known!.
4. To indicate someone calling out or shouting: Outside Edith's house, someone knocked. ‘Edith!’ / ‘You're only shielding her.’ ‘Shielding her!’ His voice rose to a shriek.
Many literary uses can be found in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. The following are a few representative examples:

• I weep for Adonais —he is dead! O, weep for Adonais! —Shelley, 1821

• Yet still the blood is strong, the heart is Highland, And we in dreams behold the Hebrides! —J. Galt, 1829

(translated in Blackwood's Magazine)

• Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer to Thee! —S. F. Adams, 1841

• Oh, to be in England Now that April's there…While the chaffinch sings in the orchard bough In England —now! —Robert Browning, 1845

• Fools! For I also had my hour; One far fierce hour and sweet —G. K. Chesterton, 1900

• What a queer thing Life is! So unlike anything else, don't you know, if you see what I mean. —P. G. Wodehouse, 1919

• Six days of the week it [sc. work] soils With its sickening poison —Just for paying a few bills! That's out of proportion —Philip Larkin, 1955.


Modern English usage. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • exclamation mark — (N. Amer. exclamation point) ► NOUN ▪ a punctuation mark (!) indicating an exclamation …   English terms dictionary

  • exclamation mark — exclamation marks N COUNT An exclamation mark is the sign ! which is used in writing to show that a word, phrase, or sentence is an exclamation. [BRIT] (in AM, use exclamation point) …   English dictionary

  • Exclamation mark — ! redirects here. For other uses, see ! (disambiguation). ! Exclamation mark Punctuation …   Wikipedia

  • exclamation mark — noun a punctuation mark (!) used after an exclamation • Syn: ↑exclamation point • Hypernyms: ↑punctuation, ↑punctuation mark * * * noun see exclamation point * * * exclamation mark UK US …   Useful english dictionary

  • 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

  • exclamation mark — noun /ˌeks.kləˈmeɪ.ʃənˌmɑːk/ Punctuation mark “!” (used to denote excitement, surprise or shock). The excessive use of exclamation marks devaluates their effect, but is typical of concise genres such as cartoons, not reference works! Syn:… …   Wiktionary

  • 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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