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Scare Quotes

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"You know what's funny, Ken? Even over the phone I can hear the quotation marks around the word 'cumulative.'"
Al Franken, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, fictional dialogue with Ken Lay

A form of "Sarcasm Mode" whereby a writer encloses a term in quotation marks.

The "aim" is to typically make it clear that the term is one the writer would not typically use, and that he is, "for that term", speaking with a voice which is not his own.


The typical implication is that the term is some manner of "euphemism" that the writer finds "obnoxious", but uses anyway because it is widely understood.

It can also be used to disparage a particular claim. If a work or person claims to be something, a person would put that in "Scare Quotes" to suggest, without explicitly stating it, "This is what he says he is but he is really not."

May or may not be used in conjunction with "Inappropriate Capitalization", which makes a general concept sound like a "Trademarked Product".

In "non-text" media, may be indicated by a sarcastic emphasis, but more likely will be indicated by so-called "Air Quotes".

Alternative Title(s): Sneer Quotes


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