Also used in many programming languages including C++, Java, JavaScript and many others to imply NOT.

from the latin word, lo, meaning joy. The exclamation point was originally a word with a l and a o under it. The o became a dot.

According to the instructions for the 1959 edition of Son of Mad Libs by Price/Stern/Sloan, "an exclamation is any sort of odd sound, gasp, grunt, or outcry not caused by gastric disturbance.

"Examples: Wow! Ouch! Oho! Wowp! Ick! Gadzooks!"

A typographical symbol that a lot of cyber kiddies are guilty of overusing whilst chatting with friends. (hello! how are you!!! i am good!!!!! yes i have your chemistry notebook!! come over later!! .. shudder). The problem is that the !!!!!'s are very rarely used in their proper place (at the end of an exclamation) and have instead become "this comment is amusing" marks.

I see no real problem with this except that it would detract from the meaning and overall relevance of the simple "!" as it stands well-placed in a normal sort of sentence. Perhaps we should be leading towards a society where exclamation marks are used more sparingly. Nobody really has much of a conceivable reason for using more than one in succession. Although it might prevent many tabloid journalists from doing their job.

Terry Pratchett, in his novel Maskerade, used the number of exclamation points in threatening letters from the villain to gauge his insanity. I guess the point here is that an ordinary person with a point to emphasise might use one or two but five is a sure sign of being a loony.

Observe, this famous exchange on the Seinfeld episode, "The Sniffling Accountant":

Elaine: Hmm...
Jake: What?
Elaine: Oh it's nothing.
Jake: What is it?
Elaine: It's nothing.
Jake: Tell me.
Elaine: Well, I was just curious why you didn't use an exclamation point?
Jake: What are you talking about?
Elaine: See, right here you wrote "Myra had the baby", but you didn't use an exclamation point.
Jake: So?
Elaine: So, it's nothing. Forget it, forget it, I just find it curious.
Jake: What's so curious about it?
Elaine: Well, I mean if one of your close friends had a baby and I left you a message about it, I would use an exclamation point.
Jake: Well, maybe I don't use my exclamation points as haphazardly as you do.
Elaine: You don't think that someone having a baby warrants an exclamation point.
Jake: Hey, I just chalked down the message. I didn't know I was required to capture the mood of each caller.
Elaine: I just thought you would be a little more excited about a friend of mine having a baby.
Jake: Ok, I'm excited. I just don't happen to like exclamation points.
Elaine: Well, you know Jake, you should learn to use them. Like the way I'm talking right now, I would put an exclamation points at the end of all these sentences! On this one! And on that one!
Jake: Well, you can put one on this one: I'm leaving!

The exclamation mark is as perfect a modern ideogram as the question mark in that it's nature is so accurately reflected in its form. It is rigid, arrogant, and final. The vertical line denotes something that is absolute and powerful. The dot represents a beginning, an end or the focus of something.

In typography, when taken together they mean that whatever comes immediately before the mark of exclamation is either incredible, strange, very important, or unusual. Seriousness or sincerity is another basic meaning of the exclamation mark. In some situations it can signify some sort of danger.

The exclamation mark often appears as an independent ideogram in comics, advertising and chess. When it is used in the game of chess it means a good move.

Some rules of the use of the exclamation mark:
An exclamation mark can be inserted within parentheses to emphasise a word within a sentence.

I have some really(!) red lollipops on my windowsill.
Note that there is to be no space between the last letter of the word so emphasised and the parentheses. This device should be used rarely, if ever, in a formal test.

In fact, in academic prose, an exclamation point is used rarely, if at all, and in newspaper writing the exclamation point is virtually nonexistent.

If an exclamation mark is part of an italicised or underlined title, make sure that the exclamation mark is also italicised or underlined:
My favourite movie is Go!

The use of exclamation marks is quite normal in those kinds of writing that try to represent ordinary speech, for example, in novels. But exclamation marks are usually out of place in formal writing. Using them frequently will give your work a breathless, almost childish, quality.

An exclamation mark is also usually after an exclamation beginning with what or how:

What a fool Marilyn Manson can be!
How well I did on my biology midterm!
These sentences are called "exclamations", as opposed to "statements".
Marilyn Manson can be such a fool.
I did very well on my biology midterm.

Ex`cla*ma"tion (?), n. [L. exclamatio: cf. F. exclamation.]


A loud calling or crying out; outcry; loud or emphatic utterance; vehement vociferation; clamor; that which is cried out, as an expression of feeling; sudden expression of sound or words indicative of emotion, as in surprise, pain, grief, joy, anger, etc.

Exclamations against abuses in the church. Hooker.

Thus will I drown your exclamations. Shak.

A festive exclamation not unsuited to the occasion. Trench.

2. Rhet.

A word expressing outcry; an interjection; a word expressing passion, as wonder, fear, or grief.

3. Print.

A mark or sign by which outcry or emphatic utterance is marked; thus [!]; -- called also exclamation point.


© Webster 1913.

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