Why is a question mark a question mark?

The question mark ’?’ has appeared more than two hundred times in this book. Have you paused to wonder why it looks like it does? I have to admit that it has only just occurred to me to look into it.

There are at least a couple of possible answers, both from the ancient world.

One suggests that ‘?’ might have come from the Greek semicolon ‘;’ – turned upside down.

The other draws on Latin for inspiration. According to this, the ‘?’ developed from ‘Q’ and ‘O’ – the last letters of the Latin word meaning ‘a questioning’. These two letters were written together, so the argument goes, with a big ‘Q’ and a small ‘o’; sitting underneath it. In time the sign was abbreviated until it ended up as the question mark ‘?’.


Picture Credit : Google

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