What the @*#&!?

17 July 2008

This is an old post, so may include broken links and/or out-of-date information

No, I’m not swearing; simply being informative and educational ...

You see, the fairly common practice of using various grammatical characters and/or punctuation marks to indicate words that have a rather, ahem, ‘blue’ meaning, actually has a name. Yes, @*#&! is an example of a grawlix and although it’s not yet been OED certified as an honest-to-goodness, bona fide, allowable-in-Scrabble word, surely it’s only a matter of time?

In the meantime though, the Wikitionary definition of grawlix is: “A string of typographical symbols used (especially in comic strips) to represent an obscenity or swearword.” So there you are!

My thanks to the %#£@@ing* geniuses that are Hoefler & Frere-Jones for educating me on this most interesting of typographical matters.


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