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apostrophe ( ' )
brackets ( [ ], ( ), { }, ⟨ ⟩ )
colon ( : )
comma ( , )
dashes ( , , , )
ellipses ( , ... )
exclamation mark ( ! )
full stop/period ( . )
guillemets ( « » )
hyphen ( -, )
question mark ( ? )
quotation marks ( ‘ ’, “ ” )
semicolon ( ; )
slash/stroke ( / )
solidus ( )
Word dividers
spaces ( ) () () ( ) () () ()
interpunct ( · )
General typography
ampersand ( & )
at sign ( @ )
asterisk ( * )
backslash ( \ )
bullet ( )
caret ( ^ )
copyright symbol ( © )
currency generic: ( ¤ )
specific: ฿, ¢, $, , ƒ, , , , £, , ¥, , ,
daggers ( , )
degree ( ° )
ditto mark ( )
inverted exclamation mark ( ¡ )
inverted question mark ( ¿ )
number sign/pound/hash ( # )
numero sign ( )
ordinal indicator (º, ª)
percent (etc.) ( %, ‰, )
pilcrow ( )
prime ( )
registered trademark ( ® )
section sign ( § )
service mark ( )
sound recording copyright symbol ( )
tilde ( ~ )
trademark ( )
underscore/understrike ( _ )
vertical/broken bar, pipe ( |, ¦ )
Uncommon typography
asterism ( )
falsum ( )
index/fist ( )
therefore sign ( )
because sign ( )
interrobang ( )
irony mark/percontation point ( ؟ )
lozenge ( )
reference mark ( )
tie ( )

An exclamation mark or exclamation point (!) is a punctuation mark usually used after an interjection or exclamation to indicate strong feelings or high volume, and often marks the end of a sentence.



The exclamation mark was introduced into English printing in the 15th century, and was called the "note of admiration" until the mid 17th century.[1] In German orthography, the sign made its first appearance in the Luther Bible in 1797.[2]

The mark was not featured on standard manual typewriters before the 1970s. Instead, one typed a full stop, backspaced, and then typed an apostrophe.[3]


A sentence ending in an exclamation mark is an actual exclamation ("Wow!", "Boo!"), a command ("Stop!"), or intended to be astonishing or show astonishment: "They were the footprints of a gigantic hound!" Exclamation marks can also be placed mid-sentence with a function similar to a comma's: "Afterward, oh! there was a frightful noise."

Casually, exclamation marks may be repeated for additional emphasis ("That's great!!!"), but this practice is generally considered unacceptable in formal composition.[4]

The exclamation mark is often used in conjunction with the question mark. This can be in protest or astonishment ("Out of all places; the squatter-camp?!") however this can be replaced with a single punctuation mark; the interrobang.

Overly frequent use of the exclamation mark is generally considered poor writing, for it distracts the reader and reduces the mark's meaning.

Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own jokes.
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Some authors however, most notably Tom Wolfe, are known for unashamedly liberal use of the exclamation mark. In comic books, the very frequent use of exclamation marks 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.

One study has shown that women use exclamation marks more than men do.[5]


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


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!").


In German, the exclamation mark has several specific uses for which English employs other forms of punctuation:

  • In the salutation line of a letter, for which English uses a comma: Lieber Hans! (English: "Dear Hans,") In this case, the first word of the following sentence begins with a capital letter. However, usage of a comma, as in English, is both also acceptable and far more common.
  • On signs, not just those warning of danger as discussed below, the exclamation mark is used to emphasize the sign's content: Betreten verboten! (English: "No trespassing")
  • At the end of an imperative sentence: Ruf mich morgen an! (English: "Call me tomorrow.")


In the Spanish language, 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! (English: "Are you crazy? You almost killed her!")

For informal written online communications, however, usage of inverted question and exclamation marks has become less common.


In the Turkish Language, 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 Ordular! İlk hedefiniz Akdenizdir, ileri! ("Armies! Your first target is the Mediterranean Sea, forward!"), a famous 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!").


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) and distinguished from the common punctuation symbol U+0021 (!) 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 (ˀ).


There is a 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 the sequence of "?!" or "!?" is used more often.

Proper names

Although exclamation marks are, as a standard, part of a complete sentence and not the spelling of individual words, they appear in many proper names, especially in commercial advertising. Prominent examples include the Web service Yahoo!, the game show Jeopardy! and the '60s musical TV show "Shindig!". The titles of the musicals Oklahoma!, Oliver! and Oh! Calcutta! and the movies Airplane! and Moulin Rouge! also contain exclamation marks. Writer Elliot S! Maggin started spelling his name that way in the seventies.

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[6]

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.


In writing and often subtitles, especially in British English, a (!) symbol (an exclamation mark within parentheses) implies that a character has made an obviously sarcastic comment eg: "Ooh, a sarcasm detector. Oh, that's a really useful invention(!)"[7]

Use in various fields


In mathematics the symbol represents the factorial operation. The expression n! means "the product of the integers from 1 to n". For example, 4! (read four factorial) is 4 × 3 × 2 × 1 = 24. (0! is defined as 1, which is a neutral element in multiplication, not multiplied by anything.)


In computing, the exclamation mark corresponds to ASCII character 33 (21 in hexadecimal). It is therefore found in Unicode at U+0021. The inverted exclamation mark is found in ISO-8859-1, 9 and 15 at position 161 (A1HEX) and therefore in unicode at U+00A1.

Several computer languages use "!" for various meanings, most importantly for logical negation; e.g. A != B means "A is not equal to B", and !A means "the logical negation of A" (also called "not A"). In this context, the exclamation is named the bang character; other programmers call it a shriek or screech. Invented in the US, it is claimed that bang is from Unix and shriek from Stanford or MIT; however, shriek is found in the Oxford English Dictionary dating from the 1860s. Also, bang was used in typesetting or printing and therefore when spelling text out orally the exclamation mark could be called, "a screamer or a bang." In the BBC BASIC programming language (and BCPL) it is called a pling and is used to reference a 32-bit word.

Plings are also used in Acorn RISC OS to denote an "appfolder": a folder that when double clicked executes a program file inside called !Run. Other files in the appfolder generally contain resources the application needs to run. The appfolder can be viewed as a normal folder by double-clicking with the shift key held down. In addition, other special resource files such as !Boot (executed the first time the application containing it comes into view of the filer), !Sprites (an icon file containing icon definitions loaded if !Boot cannot be found) and !Help (a text, HTML or other executable file listed in the filer menu for the application) also start with a pling.

Early e-mail systems also used the exclamation mark as a separator character between hostnames for routing information, usually referred to as "bang path" notation.

In the IRC protocol, a user's nickname and ident are separated by an exclamation mark in the hostmask assigned to him or her by the server.

In the Geek Code version 3, "!" is used before a letter to denote that the geek refuses to participate in the topic at hand. In some cases, it has an alternate meaning, such as G! denoting a geek of no qualifications, !d denoting not wearing any clothes, P! denoting not being allowed to use Perl, and so on. They all share some negative connotations however.

When computer programs display messages that alert the user, an exclamation mark may be shown alongside it to indicate that the message is important and should be read. This often happens when an error is made, or to obtain user consent for hazardous operations such as deleting data.

In UNIX scripting (typically for UNIX shell or Perl), "!" is usually used after a "#" in the first line of a script, the interpreter directive, to tell the OS what program to use to run the script. The "#!" is usually called a "hash-bang" or shebang.

Video games

In the Metal Gear series of stealth games, a red exclamation point (!) appears above an enemy's head with a short, loud noise if they see the player. When this happens, the enemy will try to attack the player.

Internet culture

In recent Internet culture, especially where leet is used, an excessive way of expressing exclamation in text is seen as !!!!!!111. This notation originates from the eagerness to add multiple exclamation marks but failing to properly hit the Shift1 combination (which produces the mark on most keyboard layouts). Later this behavior has evolved into a sign of recognition for certain Internet cultures who now intentionally add 1s after their expressions either to ridicule people who do it without purpose or as a sign of recognition towards others who also are familiar with the behavior. As a further pun to this development of linguistics, some add literal ones such as !!!!!one!11 to explicitly state that their use of 1s was intentionally typed, since one is impossible to be typed by accident. Some people go as far as to type in eleven, as in: !!!!1one1!!eleven11, or even !!!!11one11cos(0).

In fandom and fanfiction, ! is used to signify a defining quality in a character, usually signifying an alternate interpretation of a character from a canonical work. Examples of this would be "Romantic!Draco" or "Vampire!Harry" from Harry Potter fandom. It is also used to clarify the current persona of a character with multiple identities or appearances, such as to distinguish "Armor!Al" from "Human!Al" in a work based on Fullmetal Alchemist. The origin of this usage is unknown, although it is hypothesized to have originated with certain Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures, for example, "Football Player! Leonardo", "Rockstar! Raphael", and "Breakdancer! Michelangelo".


This Action Comics cover from 1959 ends every sentence with an exclamation mark or question mark. Often, few or no periods would be used in the entire book.

Some comic books, especially superhero comics of the mid-20th century, routinely use the exclamation mark instead of the period, which means the character has just realized something; unlike when the question mark appears instead, which means the character is confused, surprised or he does not know what is happening. This tends to lead to exaggerated speech, inline with the other hyperboles common in comic books. A portion of the motivation, however, was simply that a period might disappear in the printing process used at the time, whereas an exclamation mark would likely remain recognizable even if there was a printing glitch. Comic book writer Elliot S! Maggin once accidentally signed his name with an exclamation due to the habit of using them when writing comic scripts; it became his professional name from then on.[8]

In comic books and comics in general, a large exclamation mark is often used in the proximity of a character's head to indicate surprise. A question mark can similarly be used to indicate confusion. This practice also appears in some computer and video games.


In chess notation "!" denotes a good move and "!!" denotes an excellent move. Likewise, in some chess variants such as large board Shogi variants, "!" is used to record pieces capturing by stationary feeding or burning.


Exclamation marks or asterisks can be used on scorecards to denote a "great defensive play".[9]


In Music, a band called !!! (pronounced 'Chk Chk Chk') uses exclamation marks as its name. [10] The pop punk band Panic! At the Disco has an ongoing saga revolving around the exclamation mark in its name.


External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

The Universal Character Set
Basic Latin U+0021
See also ǃ, and ¡




May derive from a Latin Io, with the I written over the o, placed at the end of an exclamation to mark it as such. The Io may either be an abbreviation for interiectiō (interjection), or else the interjection  (hey!).[1]



  1. Denoting excitement, surprise or shock.
    Run for your lives!
  2. (computing, in many programming languages) A Boolean negation, the not operator, serving to invert the truth value of what follows.
  3. (computing, e-mail) Formerly used as a separator between hostnames in an e-mail address for the purpose of routing a message (called bang path notation).
  4. (computing, IRC) Used as a separator between a user's nickname and ident.
  5. (mathematics) factorial
    5! = 5 × 4 × 3 × 2 × 1
    "five factorial equals…"
  6. (chess) a good move

Usage notes

Derived terms

  • ¡ (inverted exclamation mark/point)
  • !! (double exclamation mark/point)
  • !? (exclamation and questioning)
  • (interrobang)
  • ﹗ (small exclamation mark/point)
  • ❢ (dingbat)
  • ❣ (dingbat)
  • (fullwidth)

Related symbols


( ( ) ) ( [ ] ) ( { } ) ( )


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.
  • Armenian: ՜
  • Limbu: ᥄


  • Notes:
  1. ^ Alexander Humez, 1987, A B C et cetera: the life & times of the Roman alphabet




  1. Used at the end of a salutation line of a letter
    Lieber Hans!
    Dear Hans,




  1. indicates irony when used in parentheses

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