scare quotes

plural noun

: 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 Musk emphasized on Twitter, in scare quotes. Jay Caspian Kang, The New Yorker, 6 Dec. 2022 But Hollywood is also notoriously low on imagination, which is why studios have attempted in vain to reproduce Jordan Peele’s unreproducible 2017 social satire Get Out, creating a whole new subgenre—call it prestige horror, with the usual scare quotes in place—in the process. Jo Livingstone, The New Republic, 1 Mar. 2021 Truths and life are in scare quotes here because Alison, of course, is a fictional character. Hazlitt, 18 Jan. 2023 Greenidge uses scare quotes around the word twice —at the end of book’s second act. Jane Kamensky, WSJ, 2 Dec. 2022 So many Seventies scary-film clichés in scare quotes, all buffered with a genuine obsession over retrograde pulp and a devoted passion for weapons-grade kink! David Fear, Rolling Stone, 21 June 2022 His paper is rife with scare quotes and clauses layered in baklava-like profusion. New York Times, 27 Dec. 2021 Note those scare quotes, for there’s nothing especially normal about Leda, a woman who tartly rejects any prescriptive model of what a woman should be. Guy Lodge, Los Angeles Times, 16 Dec. 2021 The scare quotes around academic freedom are a nice touch. Dan McLaughlin, National Review, 5 June 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'scare 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

1956, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of scare quotes was in 1956

Dictionary Entries Near scare quotes

Cite this Entry

“Scare quotes.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

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