exclamation mark or point?

As many of you know I use the exclamation mark sparingly and even wrote an essay on the subject to encourage others to do the same, but I’ve made a discovery. I happened upon a list of punctuation marks in the dictionary and instead of ‘exclamation mark’ it had ‘exclamation point.’ Baffling, I know. A point is a dot, like a period, so an exclamation point would simply be ‘.’ and a rather poor excuse for an exclamation. Exclamation mark just sounds more exclamatory, spreading exclamation cheer to boys and girls everywhere. Besides, everyone agrees it’s a question mark, not a question point. The exclamation mark is simply a straight question mark. (As opposed to a gay one).

I turned to google as a voice of reason, but it had 94,000 results for ‘exclamation point’ and only 66,000 for ‘exclamation mark’. My dictionary doesn’t even list exclamation mark. The only mention is in the definition for exclamation point, where it states that it is “also exclamation mark.”

I know I’m going out on a limb here. People may not take kindly to such a reckless grammatical decision, but I’ve got to take a stand. I’m going to buck the trend. I’m fighting back against tradition. By golly, I’m going to stick with my 66,000 cohorts in crime and continue to use ‘exclamation mark’ because it makes sense. Anyone with me, arise and exclaim!


 (Post a comment) | Comments RSS feed
  1. Amen, Brother!

    Comment by Cameron on July 1, 2003 @ 8:23 am
  2. What’s your point?!
    Make your mark!

    Comment by Renee on July 1, 2003 @ 2:15 pm
  3. i like point. i vote for point. but i’m just contrary. but you can use mark. i think we’ll still know what you mean. how many times do you use the phrase annually, anyway? (how do you like my cool-lookin’ question point?) ;)

    Comment by arrancia on July 1, 2003 @ 11:29 pm
  4. I haven’t a clue how often I use the phrase, but it’s the principle of the thing you see.

    For some odd reason I’m reminded of a fig newton commercial. A boy is eating in bed and his mother tells him he knows he’s not supposed to eat cookies in bed. In a rich English accent, he replies, “It’s not a cookie mother, it’s a fig newton.”

    It’s not a point Arrancia, it’s an exclamation mark.

    Comment by dan on July 1, 2003 @ 11:33 pm
  5. Hey, a fellow grammar Nazi, all right!

    Yeah I’ve always used "exclamation mark," and I always get looked at a bit funny for it. I’m from Arkansas, what can I say?

    SFT :)

    Comment by SFT on July 2, 2003 @ 1:53 am
  6. I applaud your radical decision to go ahead and call it a mark, especially since the question mark has already laid the groundwork. Maybe though, the official thinking is that the vertical line signals an exclamation that goes above the point required to end a sentence. But then why doesn’t the question mark work that way? (What if it was called the Exclamation Period? Yuck.)

    You know, after reading this post, I can’t remember which way I usually say !. I guess I’m suffering from the same sort of phenomenon that happens when you know you’ve spelled a word correctly but it just doesn’t look right on the page.

    Comment by Wendy on July 3, 2003 @ 2:07 pm
  7. SFT: You can promote our cause in the eastern US and I’ll take the west. Who’s got Europe?

    Wendy: I think the question mark is the strongest argument so far but I may be able to think of a few more. I too have a hard time remembering what I used to call it, but not anymore. Besides, if I forget, I have this post to remind me.

    Comment by dan on July 4, 2003 @ 2:32 am
  8. Question mark?! I’ve always called it a question point…..

    Comment by George on July 22, 2003 @ 2:46 am
  9. Now what about quotation marks? They are essentially a period with a serif and yet they’re called marks. English punctuation is crazy.

    Comment by dan on July 29, 2003 @ 6:22 am
  10. Exclamation ‘mark’ is British English and exclamation ‘point’ is U.S. English. Look it up in the OED!!

    Comment by Frank on August 12, 2003 @ 4:35 pm
  11. I tried to look it up in the OED but it required a subscription that I didn’t want to pay, but this site seems to confirm that exclamation point originated in the US.

    I’m with the Brits on this one!

    Comment by dan on August 12, 2003 @ 11:00 pm
  12. The reason being is simply a case of language. exclamation mark is English and exclamation point is American. We use full stop and in Amercia it is either a point or period.

    Comment by Tina on March 28, 2004 @ 5:07 am
  13. And why don’t they say question point I’ve never heard anyone say question point but it had a dot to?

    Comment by Anthony on August 30, 2011 @ 3:54 pm
  14. It is an exclamation point, period! Questin mark, is a mark, what it should be leading the other mark? left is wrong and right is right, right?, why do we have brunch? and don’t have linner or lupper, ask Seinfeld, isn’t it the same kind of “logic”? my Aristotelian friends, why do we have grape and grape fruit? isn’t grape a fruit too? language is a tool to comunicate, not to incumunicate, things have proper names, and then some loose-user change ’em carelessly, and voila! now we don’t now what’s proper, what’s correct, and what is product of a culture (inculture) that cuts too much slack….

    Comment by Miguel Figueroa on March 7, 2013 @ 2:48 am
  15. Sorry is communicate and incommunicate sometimes I think I’m texting.

    Comment by Miguel Figueroa on March 7, 2013 @ 2:54 am
  16. I just read your essay on exclamation marks. Nice point. However, I did notice that you used the wrong spelling of “affect” in paragraph two. It really should be “effect”.

    Comment by TR on June 4, 2014 @ 9:50 pm
  17. Thanks for the correction – I fixed it. Affect vs effect is a particularly hard distinction for my brain to grasp. Even after taking a quiz on the differences and scoring well, I continue to wonder which one is right. I’ve often reworded the sentence to avoid having to use either one. ;)

    Comment by Dan on June 5, 2014 @ 10:50 am
  18. Exclamation Mark is British English, while Exclamation Point is American English. I personally use ‘Exclamation Mark’.

    Comment by Elsie on November 7, 2015 @ 5:11 am
  19. I agree 100%. Just hearing someone call it and exclamation mark is like nails on a chalk board.

    Comment by Waylon on March 9, 2016 @ 1:06 pm

Comments are closed