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:

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  • 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

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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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