Air quotes are made by extending the pointer and and middle finger on each hand into the air and curling then slightly to imitate the shape of quotation marks. One employs air quotes when stating something ironic or mocking. As the term applies to the set of quotation marks that are being traced in the air, air quotes is always plural. Other terms for air quotes are ersatz quotes and finger quotes. The gesture employed when using air quotes has existed at least since the 1920s, if not earlier, while the term air quotes doesn’t appear until 1989, in an article in the American magazine, Spy.
Nobody this great deserves to suffer the indignity of being marginalized by air quotes, but here’s the unvarnished truth: Revis Island should be permanently shut down. (The New York Daily News)
“Everybody wants a ‘public board,’” she said, using air quotes while referring to publicly traded companies. (Fortune Magazine)
When people talk about “the football family”, they are usually either Sepp Blatter, or using sarcastic air quotes. (The Guardian)
“Dr. Paul’s misinformed statements on the dangers of vaccination seem to suggest that we should use air quotes when calling him ‘doctor,'” said an AMA spokesperson. (The Huffington Post)
Wang used “air quotes” as he said China was not like “some who engaged in illegal construction in another person’s house,” and the country does not accept criticism when it is merely building facilities in its own yard. (The Global Times)
Most of the girls who signed up for the Hour of Code class at Langston Hughes Middle School think computer stuff is “geeky” (said to me using air quotes with sparkly nails). (The Dallas Morning News)
“I was like, ‘Sure, I’ll open a restaurant,’ ” Syrie said, putting air quotes around the word “restaurant” with her fingers. (Winnipeg Free Press)