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Lo, lo and behold

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  • Lo is an archaic interjection used to attract attention or to show surprise. It’s usually either a standalone sentence (usually with an exclamation point) or set off from the surrounding sentence with commas.

    In modern writing, it’s very difficult to use lo without creating an ironic or archaic tone. These writers do so intentionally:

    Lo, the 2011 Tony Award nominees. [Vanity Fair]

    But lo! The female at left really is Bristol Palin. [Gawker]

    And lo, there shall be a sign that the end times are upon us. [SF Weekly]

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    Lo usually appears in the idiom lo and behold, which itself has a humorously archaic tone and moreover is redundant (lo and behold being synonyms). Lo and behold is similar in meaning to lo, but it’s more an expression of sarcastic surprise—for example:

    Lo and behold, in recent months, a metaphorical storming of the gates has subjected Jeter to the daily inquisition. [New York Times]

    Lo and behold, the conservative movement is now paying a price, exactly as predicted. [The Atlantic]

    In both, a prostitute writes about sexual escapades and, lo and behold, it’s all about sex. [Express]

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