air quotes

plural noun

: 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 This punchline was so air quotes appalling that gay viewers could enjoy it without having to fret that straight viewers might get the wrong idea about us. Mark Harris, New York Times, 17 Aug. 2023 Usually people put intelligence in air quotes. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 7 Sep. 2012 But even in those, the curlicues—doubt, or self-consciousness, or irony, or sinister intent, or complicated subtext, or implicit air quotes—were usually there for anyone willing to hear them. Mark Harris, Vulture, 27 Nov. 2021 The duo describe their food as Italian, with air quotes. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, 15 June 2022 Twitter, for example, did not implement draconian mass layoffs in recent days because of (air quotes) the economy, but rather as a function of new owner Elon Musk’s relentless drive toward financial sustainability. Andy Meek, BGR, 17 Nov. 2022 The only person who gets thrown under the bus in this [makes air quotes] tell-all memoir is me. Kristen Baldwin,, 18 Oct. 2022 Amidst this ongoing debate, one Web3 (remember those air quotes) project that caught my attention is being developed by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web. Colin Kirkland, SPIN, 26 Sep. 2022 Any competition under center this spring will carry on with heavy air quotes attached. Los Angeles Times, 6 Apr. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'air quotes.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1989, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of air quotes was in 1989

Dictionary Entries Near air quotes

Cite this Entry

“Air quotes.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

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