From scare quotes to orphan quotes

Bob Haas highbob at MINDSPRING.COM
Sat Aug 5 20:40:24 UTC 2000

I went to a couple grammars to check myself, and I find that an orphan quote
is simply any that is not properly attributed.  To be more specific, a quote
that is not properly introduced.  So it's not the same as a "scare quote,"
but it is.  Hmm, "scare" is perhaps a better name for these specific orphan
quotes, but I suppose that I just enjoy using orphan quote since I learned
it so early.  Perhaps it's time to change a paradigm.  I'll have to find my

bob again

> From: Bob Haas <highbob at>
> Reply-To: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Date: Fri, 4 Aug 2000 20:23:25 -0400
> Subject: From scare quotes to orphan quotes
> When I was in journalism school at UNC, I learned the term orphan quotes,
> which referred as I remember it, to those quote marks thrown in for
> emphasis.  A little bit of spice, I suppose, and orphaned because the
> material within came not from an actual quote.  I suppose that they are
> free-floating quotes, which writers can reach up and pull from the air in
> order to pepper their writing with emphasis and excitement.  Is anybody
> familiar with the term?

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