I remember using them at least 30 years or more ago, entirely un-ironically. How does one go about looking up the history of such a thing? How would you reconcile the discoverable print references to its presumably earlier emergence as a metalinguistic thing in itself? But the OED's entry also gives evidence that some people were miming two-fingered quotes in the air more than 90 years ago though this seems to be a slightly different version of the gesture :. The OED's earliest actual "air quotes" citation is from , and supports the "ironic, mocking, or disingenuous" connotation:. America is in the grip of the smirk, a relentless need to mock. From Manhattan dinner parties to the groves of Midwestern academe, they are dissecting this strange Zeitgeist of the late s, usually tracing its origin to a moral drift, a pervading sense of cynicism or the 'post-modernist' sensibility.
Origin of “Air Quotes”
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Top definition. In conversation, the dual flexing of the index and middle finger of both hands, to signify the presence of scare quotes. Used ad nauseam by 'pretentious' and ostensibly 'intelligent' university students, to advertise their 'superior morals' and 'erudition'. Using air quotes in this example is, like, so 'post-modern'. Aug 11 Word of the Day. Wet Ass Pussy. You can tell by the way she walks, she got that WAP. You can look at her face and tell she ain't got that WAP. Using two fingers on each hand to indicate a word or phrase is in quotes.
Air quotes , also called finger quotes see also " scare quotes " , are virtual quotation marks formed in the air with one's fingers when speaking. This is typically done with both hands held shoulder-width apart and at the eye or shoulders level of the speaker, with the index and middle fingers on each hand flexing at the beginning and end of the phrase being quoted. Air quotes are often used to express satire , sarcasm , irony or euphemism , among others, and are analogous to scare quotes in print. Use of similar gestures has been recorded as early as ,  and Glenda Farrell used air quotes in a screwball comedy, "Breakfast for Two. The term "air quotes" first appeared in a Spy magazine article by Paul Rudnick and Kurt Andersen , who state it became a common gesture around The gesture was used routinely in the TV show Celebrity Charades as the standard signal for a quote or phrase. The trend became very popular in the s, attributed by many to comedian Steve Martin , who often used them with exaggerated emphasis in his stand-up shows.