Have You Ever Wanted To Interrobang?

Interrobang big
Image via Wikipedia

Recently, I learned about a new punctuation mark: the interrobang. Sounds naughty doesn’t it. Sure you can Google it, if you’d like. But you don’t have to, silly. That’s why I’m here.

Actually, the interrobang is a nonstandard punctuation mark used in various written languages and intended to combine the functions of the question mark (also called the “interrogative point”) and the exclamation mark or exclamation point (known in printers’ jargon as the “bang”).

When a sentence asks a question in an excited manner, expresses excitement or disbelief in the form of a question, or asks a rhetorical question.people layer two different punctuation marks one after the other.

For example: “Can you believe how awesomely delicious this piece of chocolate cyber-cake tastes?!”

See the “?” followed directly by the “!”

That’s the interrobang!

Some people even layer them on top of each other!

According to Wikipedia:

In 1966, Richard Isbell of American Type Founders issued the Americana typeface and included the interrobang as one of the characters, and in 1968, an interrobang key was available on some Remington typewriters.

That said, the interrobang failed to amount to much. It has not become recognized as a standard punctuation mark; although, it has not disappeared completely: Microsoft actually provides several versions of the interrobang character with Microsoft Office.

I don’t usually get into hardcore kinky punctuation, but I have to admit, I definitely enjoyed learning about it and I plan to use it. Not excessively. Just once in a while.

If you really want to lord a little insignificant piece of trivia over your English teacher this year, interrobang her. See what happens.

So go ahead, give me your best sentence using mixed punctuation. Interrobang me; you know you want to.

42 thoughts on “Have You Ever Wanted To Interrobang?

  1. How have I never heard of this before!?! Very interesting, but I have a theory as to why it never caught on. You totally have to lift your pen/pencil up to complete the figure. With an exclamation point or question mark, it’s pretty much just one fluid motion down. With this thing, you have to go down and then back up. People are too lazy 😉

    1. Abby:

      When I was a girl, I took the time to make loopy, flower-heads around the dot of every “i.” Writing took forever. My teachers hated me, but I loved how my papers looked.

      Kids today are just plain lazy. Learning to interrobang properly would be good for them!

      And it doesn’t have to look like this. One can simply make a question mark and follow it with an exclamation mark immediately behind, like they are spooning.

      I love the idea of spooning punctuation, don’t you?!

  2. “Why did you buy those stamps?!” my wife asked excitedly.

    I tried to include the actual symbol here – (hence the box), it is Windings 2 shift 6 for your reference. By the way, you need to check out the Pioneers of Industrial Design for some cool stamps… she’s gonna ask the question!

  3. I am a failure with punctuation. A new form of punctuation? Since it is just one year younger than I am it is actually a middle aged form of punctuation. The kids won’t trust it.

    I interrobang consistently. But, don’t know how to make the cool interrobang mark. I use the question mark and exclamation point together when nothing less will do. Sometimes, switching them up depending on which is more important the exclamatory or the interrogatory. I am not a writer so much as I want my written thoughts to express what is going on in my brain. I won’t look it up! I won’t!

    If people use the two together which should go first?!

    1. The question mark always goes first. It is considered the less intense of the two pieces of punctuation. And we always want to add the intensity.

      Why do I know these things?!

      Did you see that?! Did you see how I did that?!

      Oh yeah, I am a Grammar Geek.

    1. Carl, if you don’t let me teach you about linky-love (hyperlinks), I am going to lose my mind!

      Don’t you think we need another phone intervention?! (Hazzah, I interrobanged you.)

      Thank you in advance. 😉

  4. I think I interrobang mostly when talking to the dogs. “You want a cookie?!” “You want to go get your shots?!” etc. Also when proving a point that my wife’s dog is stupid, “Who’s a dumb girl?! Huh?! Do you want to go out back and play fetch with high explosives with short fuses?! Huh?! Do ya girl?!”

    Combine the interrobang with a high pitched voice and a dog will do anything you ask.

    1. Eric Rumsey! You get the award for Best Sort-Of Early Adopter of The Interrobang so far today!

      I definitely think adding the high-pitched voice adds something.

      But can we swap out “girl” for “boy”?

      That would be more comfortable to me. 😉

  5. Why am I so thrilled to get this new writing tool?! Because I’m Italian and I can’t use my hands when I’m writing on a keyboard (or anywhere, for that matter). Thanks, Rene!

  6. The coolest thing about this punctuation mark is its name. I don’t think I would adopt the actual mark in my writing, though I am fond of the old “?!”. (Grammar aside: I KNOW that period belongs inside the quotes mark, but it just wasn’t working for me here.)

  7. That’s crazy you are writing about this as I just discovered the exact same thing myself last week. I was pondering whether or not the exclamation point should go first or second in a particular case and ended up on Wiki learning of the interrobang. We are mind melded.

    1. Clay: Are you just now figuring out we are mind-melded?!

      Kapow! You’ve been interrobanged!

      Do you think I could land a TV show out of this? 😉

      By the way, your blog at KL’s today is divine. The content is brilliant. I dare you to tell her to fix the formatting. 😉

  8. I’ve been accidentally using this kinky punctuation for years now (because both my curiosity AND excitement cannot be controlled and often occur at the same time and involve the same issue).

    I am so glad to know it’s officially an unofficial part of the punctuation lexicon. Or something.

    I love it!!!

    Thanks, Renee. You’re a giver.

    (and have I told you lately that I love you?!)

    1. You have always been a naughty little rule breaker, haven’t you?!

      Or something. Because I guess it’s actually legal, you little interrobanger.

      And I love you, too.

      By the way, I need to talk to you about the ink thing.

      Of course there is a story there.

      And you know I’m not known for my brevity.

  9. I could not for the life of me think of a proper way to interrobang you earlier. BUT I did just interrobang elsewhere a moment ago in a way that made me go, “AHA! I must copy and paste that!” So that’s what I’m going to do instead:

    I don’t feel “not girly.” What the heck could she be talking about?!



  10. So, if you ask a question in a really, really, really excited way or with a mega-sense of disbelief, would that be an interrogangbang?

    And what if you use the interrobang where it shouldn’t be used? Would that be like an interrorape of the language? (Or just really tasteless).

    Have to be honest, the interrobang sounds like the answer to my prayers. I don’t mean that in a kinky way (although…). I have seen question marks and exclamation marks used together and have wanted to do so myself but felt constricted by the rules of punctuation.

    1. Pravinjeya:

      Personally, I think “interrogangbang” has an extremely negative connotation as it implies a use of force that is coerced in some way. This is not what the interrobang is about. The interrobang is playful. It is about feeling two things at once: extreme disbelief (as you said) and extreme excitement (as you also said).

      Having said that, I suppose if a lot of very pissed off people uttered the exact same excited and incredulous thing at precisely the same moment, well that could be construed as an “interrogangbang.”

      But I kind of like to keep things light around here. 😉

  11. I think you can use the marks in either order, depending on whether you want to emphasise the question or the exclamation. It makes intuitive sense to me that way. Good to know that the inverted interrobang ⸘​ is catching on, too!

  12. It looks like the way I used to make my exclamation marks when I was 12. Can’t believe I never heard of this until now. They should have called it the Questclamation mark. Right?! 😉

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