- exclamation mark
- exclamation markIn 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.