http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Question_mark According to the wikipedia article I've linked to above, "qo" was sometimes used in the middle ages to abbreviate the latin word "questio" in the way that we might use a modern day question mark. I can't find any example of this anywhere online. Help?

  • Typophile.com, where they seem to know what they're talking about, recommends Pause and Effect in Punctuation by Malcolm Parkes. Anyone have a copy?
    – Andrew Leach
    May 17, 2013 at 6:17
  • While the Wikipedia article has a diagram illustrating this alleged origin of the question mark, the running text casts doubt on this theory, and the talk page offers evidence against it. May 18, 2013 at 20:32

1 Answer 1


The Wikipedia article itself says evidence is lacking:

The symbol is also sometimes[7] thought to originate from the Latin quaestiō (that is, qvaestio), meaning "question", which was abbreviated during the Middle Ages to qo. The lowercase q was written above the lowercase o, and this mark was transformed into the modern symbol. However, evidence of the actual use of the Q-over-o notation in medieval manuscripts is lacking; if anything, medieval forms of the upper component seem to be evolving towards the q-shape rather than away from it.

Citation [7] is a 19th century dictionary:

Brewer, E. C. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1870 (rev. 1894), s.v. 'Punctuation'.

I couldn't find this particular edition, but none of the other 19th century editions I found contained this claim.

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