apostrophe (' )
The interrobang is an English-language punctuation mark intended to combine the functions of a question mark and an exclamation point. The typographical character resembles those marks superimposed over one another.
Some of these may display as an interrobang in your browser:
Depending on your perspective, a sentence that ends in an interrobang either asks a question in an excited manner or expresses excitement in the form of a question.
- How much did you spend on those shoes‽
- You're going out with Marika‽
- You traveled to Paris on a submarine‽
Instead of the interrobang, many writers, especially in informal writing, use multiple punctuation marks to end a sentence expressing surprise and question:
- He did what!?
The exclamation point usually comes first, although there is no universal style rule on the subject.
It is not uncommon for writers in very informal situations (or deliberate parodies) to use several question marks and exclamation marks for even more emphasis:
- He did what!?!?!?
Like multiple exclamation marks and multiple question marks, such strings are generally considered very poor style.
Writers used such multiple punctuation marks for decades before the interrobang was invented. They were prevalent in informal media such as print ads and comic books. It was also used in chess commentary with "!?" showing an interesting move that may not be the best, and "?!" showing a dubious move that may nevertheless be difficult to refute.
American Martin K. Speckter concocted the interrobang itself in 1962. As the head of an advertising agency, Speckter believed that ads would look better if advertising copywriters conveyed surprised queries using a single mark. He proposed the interrobang concept in an article in the magazine TYPEtalks. Speckter solicited possible names for the new character from readers. Contenders included 'rhet', 'exclarotive', and 'exclamaquest', but he settled on 'interrobang'.
Graphic treatments for the new mark were also submitted in response to the article.
In 1966, Richard Isbell of American Type Founders issued the Americana typeface and included the interrobang as one of the characters. In 1968, an interrobang key was available on some Remington typewriters. The interrobang was in vogue for much of the 1960s, with the word 'interrobang' appearing in some dictionaries and the mark itself being featured in magazine and newspaper articles.
The interrobang failed to amount to more than a fad, however, never becoming a standard punctuation mark. Most fonts don't include it. But it has not disappeared: Microsoft provides several versions of the interrobang character as part of the Wingdings 2 character set available with Microsoft Office; it is present in the fonts Lucida Sans Unicode and Arial Unicode MS; and it has the Unicode code position U+203D.
It is also featured on the front page of Michael Gerber 's Harry Potter parody Barry Trotter and the Shameless Parody and as Barry's scar.
A reverse and upside down interrobang (combining ¿ and ¡), suitable for starting phrases in Spanish, is called a gnaborretni.
The interrobang is at Unicode code point 8253, which is 203D in hexadecimal. It can be used in HTML documents with
‽, although the second form has poor support in common web browsers.