!
Exclamation mark
Punctuation
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
interpunct ·
space     
General typography
ampersand &
asterisk *
at sign @
backslash \
basis point
bullet
caret ^
dagger † ‡ ⹋
degree °
ditto mark ” 〃
equals sign =
inverted exclamation mark ¡
inverted question mark ¿
komejirushi, kome, reference mark
multiplication sign ×
number sign, pound, hash #
numero sign
obelus ÷
ordinal indicator º ª
percent, per mil % ‰
pilcrow
plus, minus + −
plus-minus, minus-plus ± ∓
prime    
section sign §
tilde ~
underscore, understrike _
vertical bar, pipe, broken bar |    ¦
Intellectual property
copyright ©
copyleft 🄯
sound-recording copyright
registered trademark ®
service mark
trademark
Currency
currency sign ¤

؋฿¢$֏ƒ£元 圆 圓 ¥

Uncommon typography
asterism
fleuron, hedera
index, fist
interrobang
irony punctuation
lozenge
tie
Related
In other scripts

The exclamation mark, also sometimes referred to as the exclamation point in American English, is a punctuation mark usually used after an interjection or exclamation to indicate strong feelings or high volume (shouting), or to show emphasis, and often marks the end of a sentence, for example: "Watch out!" Similarly, a bare exclamation mark (with nothing before or after) is often used in warning signs.

Other uses include:

  • In mathematics it denotes the factorial operation.
  • Several computer languages use "!" at the beginning of an expression to denote logical negation: e.g. "!A" means "the logical negation of A", also called "not A".
  • Some languages use "!" to denote a click consonant.

History

Graphically the exclamation mark is represented as a full stop point with a vertical line above. One theory of its origin is that it is derived from a Latin exclamation of joy (io). The modern graphical representation is believed to have been born in the Middle Ages. Medieval copyists wrote the Latin word io at the end of a sentence to indicate joy. The word io meant "hurray". Over time, the i moved above the o, and the o became smaller, becoming a point.[1][2]

The exclamation mark was first introduced into English printing in the 15th century to show emphasis, and was called the "sign of admiration or exclamation"[3] or the "note of admiration" until the mid-17th century;[4] admiration referred to its Latin sense of wonderment.

The exclamation mark did not have its own dedicated key on standard manual typewriters before the 1970s. Instead, one typed a period, backspaced, and typed an apostrophe.[5] In the 1950s, secretarial dictation and typesetting manuals in America referred to the mark as "bang",[6][7] perhaps from comic books where the ! appeared in dialogue balloons to represent a gun being fired,[8] although the nickname probably emerged from letterpress printing.[9] This bang usage is behind the names of the interrobang, an unconventional typographic character, and a shebang line, a feature of Unix computer systems.

Slang and other names for the exclamation mark

In the printing world, the exclamation mark can be called a screamer, a gasper, a slammer, or a startler.[10]

In hacker culture, the exclamation mark is called "bang", "shriek", or, in the British slang known as Commonwealth Hackish, "pling". For example, the password communicated in the spoken phrase "Your password is em-nought-pee-aitch-pling-en-three" is m0ph!n3.[11]

Languages

The exclamation mark is common to languages using the Latin alphabet, although usage varies slightly between languages. It has also been adopted in languages written in other scripts, such as Greek, Russian, Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Devanagari.

English

A sentence ending in an exclamation mark may be an exclamation (such as "Wow!", "Boo!"), or an imperative ("Stop!"), or may indicate astonishment or surprise: "They were the footprints of a gigantic hound!" Exclamation marks are occasionally placed mid-sentence with a function similar to a comma, for dramatic effect, although this usage is obsolete: "On the walk, oh! there was a frightful noise."[12]

Informally, exclamation marks may be repeated for additional emphasis ("That's great!!!"), but this practice is generally considered unacceptable in formal prose.[13]

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?!"); a few writers replace this with a single, nonstandard punctuation mark, the interrobang, which is the combination of a question mark and an exclamation mark.[14]

Overly frequent use of the exclamation mark is generally considered poor writing, for it distracts the reader and devalues the mark's significance.[15][16]

Cut out all these exclamation points...An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.

Some authors, however, most notably Tom Wolfe and Madison Acampora, 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.

Several studies have shown that women use exclamation marks more than men do. One study suggests that, in addition to other uses, exclamation marks may also function as markers of friendly interaction, for example, by making "Hi!" or "Good luck!" seem friendlier than simply "Hi." or "Good luck." (with periods).[18] However, use of exclamation marks in contexts that are not unambiguously positive can be misinterpreted as indicating hostility.

In English writing and often subtitles, a (!) symbol (an exclamation mark within parentheses) implies that a character has made an obviously sarcastic comment e.g.: "Ooh, a sarcasm detector. That's a really useful invention(!)"[19] It also is used to indicate surprise at one's own experience or statement.

French

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 (petit espace) is used between the last word and the exclamation mark in European French, but not in Canadian French. One can also combine an exclamation mark with a question mark at the end of a sentence where appropriate.

German

German uses the exclamation mark for several things that English conveys with other punctuation:

  • It is used at the end of imperative sentences even when not particularly emphatic: Ruf mich morgen an! ('Call me tomorrow.') A normal full stop, as in English, is fairly common but is considered substandard.
  • A related use is on signs that express a command or interdiction: Betreten verboten! (English: 'No trespassing!').
  • The exclamation mark may also be used in the salutation line of a letter: Lieber Hans! (English: 'Dear Hans,'). However, the use of a comma is equally correct and is more common.

Cantonese

Cantonese has not historically used exclamation marks.[citation needed] Usage of exclamation marks is common in written Mandarin and in some Yue speaking regions.[citation needed] The Canton and Hong Kong regions, however, generally refused to accept the exclamation mark as it was seen as carrying with it unnecessary and confusing Western connotations; however, an exclamation mark, including in some written representations of colloquy in Cantonese, can be used informally to indicate strong feeling. For example, to represent a response of someone surprised by a gift, one could write: "谢谢!" (xiè xie!, "thanks!").

Greek

In Modern Greek, the exclamation mark (Θαυμαστικό, thavmastikó) has been introduced from Latin scripts and is used identically, although without the reluctance seen in English usage.[20] A minor grammatical difference is that, while a series of interjections each employ an exclamation mark (e.g., Ωχ! Αχ!, Ōch! Ach!, 'Oops! Oh!'), an interjection should only be separated from an extended exclamation by a comma (e.g., Ωχ, ξέχασα το μάτι της κουζίνας ανοιχτό!, Ōch, xéchasa to máti tīs kouzínas anoichtó!, 'Oops! I left the stove on.').

Hungarian

In Hungarian, an exclamation mark is put at the end of exclamations, imperative or prohibitive sentences, and sentences expressing a wish (e.g. De szép! - 'How beautiful!', A fűre lépni tilos! - 'Do not step on the grass.', Bárcsak sikerülne a tervem! - 'If only my plan worked out.'). The use of the exclamation mark is also needed when addressing someone and the addressing is a separate sentence. (typically at the beginning of letters, e.g. Kedves Péter! - 'Dear Peter,').[21] Greetings are also typically terminated with an exclamation mark (e.g. Jó estét! - 'Good evening.').

Spanish

Trilingual billboard in Barcelona (detail), showing the initial exclamation mark for Spanish, but not for Catalan (top line) and English.

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!, 'Are you crazy? You almost killed her!'

As in British English, a bracketed exclamation mark may be used to indicate irony or surprise at a statement: Dice que esta noche no va a salir de fiesta (!), 'He said that he's not going to a party tonight(!).' Such use is not matched by an inverted opening exclamation mark.

Turkish

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 the Ordular! İlk hedefiniz Akdenizdir, ileri! ('Armies! Your first target is the Mediterranean') 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!'.

Limbu

In Limbu, an exclamation mark is used after a Limbu sentence or phrase for emphasis, and is common following both commands and the addressees of such commands. For example, in the Limbu sentence ᤐᤚᤢ᥄ ᤄᤨᤘᤑ ᤂᤥᤆᤌᤙ Mediterranean, ᤚᤦᤛᤅ᥄Paṡu! Ghōwapha khōcathaśa Mediterranean, ṡausaṅa! (Armies! Your first target is the Mediterranean!). It is further used in parentheses, (᥄), after a sentence or phrase to indicate irony or sarcasm: ᤖᤥᤂᤌ ᤔᤚᤗ ᤐᤤ ᤊᤇ ᤃᤦᤄ (᥄)Rōkhatha maṡala pai yancha gaugha (!) (You did a very good job — Not!).

Phonetics

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 mark 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).

Interrobang

There is a non–standard 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 it is seldom seen outside Unicode documentation[citation needed] - the sequence of "?!" or "!?" is used almost exclusively.

Proper names

Although not part of dictionary words, exclamation marks appear in some brand names and trade names, including Yum! Brands (parent of fast food chains like Taco Bell and KFC) and Web services Yahoo! and Joomla!. It appears in the titles of stage and screen works, especially comedies and musicals; examples include the game show Jeopardy!, the '60s musical TV show Shindig!; musicals Oklahoma!, Oliver! and Oh! Calcutta!; and movies Airplane! and Moulin Rouge!. Writer Elliot S! Maggin and cartoonist Scott Shaw! include exclamation marks in their names. In the 2016 United States presidential campaign, Republican candidate Jeb Bush used "Jeb!" as his campaign logo.

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 mark. 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, but neither the United States Board on Geographic Names nor mapmakers Rand McNally recognised the change.[22] The city of Ostrava, Czech Republic, changed its logotype to Ostrava!!! in 2008.[23]

Warnings

Warning signs are often an exclamation mark enclosed within a triangle

Exclamation marks 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 mark, but a white triangle with a red border is common on European road warning signs.

New Zealand road sign warning of a "cattle stop" (cattle grid/cattle guard)

Unicode and HTML

The mark is encoded as U+0021 ! EXCLAMATION MARK (HTML !) and ! in HTML5.[a]

Related forms are encoded:

  • U+01C3 ǃ LATIN LETTER RETROFLEX CLICK (HTML ǃ) (In IPA: alveolar click)
  • U+203C DOUBLE EXCLAMATION MARK (HTML ‼) (for use in vertical text)
  • U+2048 QUESTION EXCLAMATION MARK (HTML ⁈) (for use in vertical text)
  • U+2049 EXCLAMATION QUESTION MARK (HTML ⁉) (for use in vertical text)
  • U+26A0 WARNING SIGN (HTML ⚠) (exclamation mark in triangle)
  • U+2755 WHITE EXCLAMATION MARK ORNAMENT (HTML ❕) (in Unicode lingo, "white" means hollow)
  • U+2757 HEAVY EXCLAMATION MARK SYMBOL (HTML ❗)
  • U+2762 HEAVY EXCLAMATION MARK ORNAMENT (HTML ❢)
  • U+2763 HEAVY HEART EXCLAMATION MARK ORNAMENT (HTML ❣)
  • U+A71D MODIFIER LETTER RAISED EXCLAMATION MARK (HTML ꜝ)
  • U+A71E MODIFIER LETTER RAISED INVERTED EXCLAMATION MARK (HTML ꜞ)
  • U+A71F MODIFIER LETTER LOW INVERTED EXCLAMATION MARK (HTML ꜟ)
  • U+FE57 SMALL EXCLAMATION MARK (HTML ﹗) (for special applications within CJK text)
  • U+FF01 FULLWIDTH EXCLAMATION MARK (HTML !) (for special applications within CJK text)
  • U+1F574 🕴 MAN IN BUSINESS SUIT LEVITATING (HTML 🕴) (a humanized exclamation mark imported from Webdings)
  • U+E0021 TAG EXCLAMATION MARK (HTML 󠀡)

Some scripts have their own exclamation mark: