Quotes about “Scare Quotes”

Welcome to my page of quotations about the quotation marks called scare quotes, also known as shudder quotes, sneer quotes, so-called quotes, sarcasm quotes, irony quotes, or written air quotes. —tg

Scare quotes are the visual marker of sarcasm. ~Joseph Harris, Rewriting: How To Do Things With Texts, 2006

If you use a colloquialism or a slang word or phrase, simply use it; do not draw attention to it by enclosing it in quotation marks. To do so is to put on airs, as though you were inviting the reader to join you in a select society of those who know better. ~William Strunk, Jr., The Elements of Style, 1959

[A] forest of scare quotes can quickly become a distraction. ~Simon Mayers, Chesterton’s Jews, 2013

The use of quotation marks to say “their word, not mine” is growing…. Disdain now has its own punctuation. One reason is that quotation marks are being used more often to call attention to a special meaning: Henry L. Trewhitt of The Baltimore Sun calls these “cop-out quotation marks” — when a writer uses a bit of jargon or a colloquialism and encloses it in quotes to show he really knows better. Another reason for putting rabbit ears on a word is the growing popularity of skepticism: Those whose illusion is disillusionment revel in the use of the device that expresses disbelief and disavowal with four inverted commas, and trendy critics can even put quotation signs around a spoken word by wiggling two fingers of each hand. ~William Safire, On Language, 1980

The use of scare quotes is an evasive way of using a bit of language while at the same time distancing yourself from it, leaving your reader wondering whether you quite stand by what you say. ~Gary Kemp, What Is This Thing Called Philosophy of Language?, 2011

This is yet another way detonation may disrupt the steadiness of person and narrative. The reader must continually make adjustments of discourse type in the midst of parsing difficult sentences, treading the minefield of scare-quotes, italics, parentheses containing quotations we know not from where, paradoxes, and allusions. A minimal implied author requires a maximal implied reader. ~Donald Wesling and Tadeusz Sławek, Literary Voice: The Calling of Jonah, 1995