Find punctuation scary?
You should do.
Okay you may not get mugged by a semi-colon in a dark alley, but those scare quotes, eh?
Yep. They're enough to send a shiver down the spine of a menopausal, thermal-underwear-wearing polar bear.
I can't deny that people find scare quotes useful. They make it easy to be sarcastic, ironic, or scornful; to make it plain that ordinary-people-may-think-that-but-I'm-much-too-sophisticated-and-wise-to-entertain-the-notion-for-a-minute.
As in: I have 500 "friends" on Facebook.
The army "liberated" the city.
The Folk Dancers "entertained" their audience.
Scare quotes are also the only bit of punctuation which is regularly expressed in sign language.
So what's not to like?
Well, firstly if you do the sign-language scare quote thing people will think you're a dork. Secondly, with the miracle, delicacy and infinite variety of language at your command, why brutalise it with the sledge hammer of scare quotes?
Because it's easy?
Oh all right, then.
Word To Use Today: scare. This word comes from the Old Norse skirra.
The phrase scare quotes was coined in the 1940s or 1950s, but there is no agreement as to who was the first person to use it.