A style of winking that allows fine control over how much humor
or sarcasm should be inferred by the reader.
In order to write a fractional wink, you must use the verbose rather
than the emoticonal symbol for winking, which is <wink>.
The exact verbose equivalent of ;-) is <wink>. But if you
were really only half joking, you would write <0.5 wink>. There are
no limits on the precision of the wink factor, but winks are
generally specified to only one decimal place, and the factor must
be between zero and one.
Once an author has become comfortable with fractional winkery, he may find
occasion (rarely) to use a pun form; here is an example from
In general, Our Guido flees from schemes that merely change
which foot gets blown off <0.45 caliber wink>.
Fractional winkery was invented by Tim Peters, who is the
acknowledged master of the form; many lessons in his use of it
are to be found in the archives of the Usenet group comp.lang.python.
This concept can also be extended to others; for example,
<grin>, <snort>, and <huff>.