From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Not to be confused with scare quotes.
Air quotes, also called finger quotes or Ersatz quotes ( /ɛərˈzɑːts/;
German for replacement) are virtual quotation marks formed in the air with
one's fingers when speaking. This is typically done with hands held shoulder-
width apart and at the eye level of the speaker, with the index and middle
fingers on each hand flexing at the beginning and end of the phrase being
quoted.  The air-quoted phrase is generally very short—a few words at most
—in common usage, though sometimes much longer phrases may be used for
comedic effect. 
While the term "air quotes" did not appear until 1989, use of similar gestures
has been recorded as early as 1927.  A single handed quote is an
equivalent, though less dramatic variation.
The gesture was used routinely in the TV show Celebrity Charades (1979) as
the standard signal for a quote or phrase.
The trend became very popular in the 1990s, attributed by many to comedian
Steve Martin, who often used them with exaggerated emphasis in his stand-up
shows.  Additionally, in the blockbuster Austin Powers film franchise, Dr. Evil
makes prominent (and humorous) use of air quotes when explaining matters to
The air quotes gesture
Air quotes are often used to express satire, sarcasm, irony or euphemism, and
are analogous to scare quotes in print.
1. ^ a b Martin, Gary. "Air quotes" . The Phrase Finder. Archived from the original on 3 November 2008. Retrieved 18 November
2. ^ Frum, David (2000). How We Got Here: The '70s, the decade that brought you modern life, for better or worse. New York:
BasicBooks. pp. 421. ISBN 0-465-04196-5. OCLC 45706071 .
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