I wonder, why ! symbol is called exclamation mark, but = symbol is called equal sign? Is it only tradition or there is something behind?

  • 1
    In grammar we learned it as exclamation point! So there's another data point for you. – Robusto Feb 3 '11 at 14:14
  • Here's another data point (mark well :-) - an exclamation point is one of a number of punctuation marks. – Ed Guiness Feb 3 '11 at 14:41
  • In compsci we call it a "bang" – Michael Haren Feb 3 '11 at 19:53

I suppose it's in the origins.

? and ! are from the family of language punctuation marks

= is from the family of mathematical symbols or signs.

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  • Interesting hypothesis. Maybe some reference to back it would be welcome. – Benoit Feb 3 '11 at 13:22
  • @Benoit I wish I had one, but it's just my supposition. – Ed Guiness Feb 3 '11 at 13:22
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    I think your hypothesis is good. Actually, = is no punctuation mark at all. – Benoit Feb 3 '11 at 13:25
  • So, all signs used for punctuation are marks? – pmod Feb 3 '11 at 13:40
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    @Pmod: There are "quotation marks" too :) – psmears Feb 3 '11 at 13:50

I think they're called marks because they actually mark something. That a sentence is a question, an exclamation, or a quote.

But = is just a sign, it doesn't mark anything.

Again, this is just another guess.

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Another difference I see is that the exclamation mark has no meaning on its own. It is merely punctuation whereas the equals sign actually adds meaning to the sentence: life "equals" goodness.

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  • +1 because it is interesting, though it doesn't really answer the question IMHO – o0'. Feb 3 '11 at 17:49

I cannot comment yet, as my karma will not allow it. The exclamation mark was referred to as “sign of admiration or exclamation” in the 15th century according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exclamation_mark

I think it is just convention.

If you think about the = sign, you can argue it "marks" equality. On the other hand, if you use "exclamation sign", in my mind, the street sign pops up.

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