air quotes

plural noun

Definition of air quotes

: a gesture made by raising and flexing the index and middle fingers of both hands that is used to call attention to a spoken word or expression

Examples of air quotes in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Horovitz and Diamond are good company — unassuming without false modesty; self-aware without irritating air quotes. New York Times, "‘Beastie Boys Story’ Review: Pass the Mic, and the Memories," 22 Apr. 2020 The quarterback used air quotes to make sure his audience knew what that meant. Ann Killion,, "Emmanuel Sanders features in 49ers’ highlight reel against Saints," 9 Dec. 2019 With seemingly the entire state on high alert, literally waiting to see which way the wind would blow, the idea of the California Dream felt utterly exhausted, ironic, sayable only between air quotes. Dana Goodyear, The New Yorker, "Waking up from the California Dream," 11 Nov. 2019 Yup, that’s very much a use of air quotes in text, just like Chris Farley’s Brauer character from Saturday Night Live. Charles Curtis, For The Win, "NFLPA rips new anthem 'policy' with scathing use of quote marks," 23 May 2018 Both new and past models do share the unmistakable Off-White orange pull tab and literal air quotes printed on the heel. Jake Woolf, GQ, "Your Nike x Off-White VaporMax 2018 Buying Guide," 28 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'air quotes.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of air quotes

1989, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of air quotes was in 1989

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Cite this Entry

“Air quotes.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2020.

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