scare quotes

plural noun

Definition of scare quotes

: quotation marks used to express especially skepticism or derision concerning the use of the enclosed word or phrase

Examples of scare quotes in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The letter is full of scare quotes, long sentences, parentheticals, personal call-outs, and all caps for emphasis. Kathleen Hou, The Cut, "The 12 Biggest Revelations From Deciem CEO Brandon Truaxe’s Open Letter," 23 May 2018

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

First Known Use of scare quotes

1956, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about scare quotes

Statistics for scare quotes

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for scare quotes

The first known use of scare quotes was in 1956

See more words from the same year

Comments on scare quotes

What made you want to look up scare quotes? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a small bunch of flowers

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!