I've begun to see this style of emphasis used more frequently, like in the following passage:

People whose careers depend on the great stuff working as advertised may decide instead that they Simply Do Not Want To Hear anything disturbing about it and adopt a “Shoo, little people! Out of my way!” attitude. [Link]

or here:

Unsafe Rust is exactly like Safe Rust with all the same rules and semantics. It just lets you do some extra things that are Definitely Not Safe (which we will define in the next section). [Link]

Does it have a specific term or name?

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    A term beyond "capitalizing for emphasis", you mean?
    – Draconis
    Jun 14 at 16:57
  • @Draconis maybe, I'm trying to figure out if it's been documented somewhere or if it's a newer way to write. Jun 14 at 17:06
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    Hmm... this kind of capitalisation does not look like a linguistic device to me, maybe it's a typographic device and the folks on Graphic Design have a term for that. Jun 15 at 9:42
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    @SirCornflakes Obviously it’s a typographic device since it’s only possible in writing; but it’s absolutely also a linguistic one (and I know of no typographic term for it). I don’t agree with the asker that it’s about emphasis as such, though. It’s based on the practice of using capitalisation to indicate names; ‘Simply Do Not Want To Hear’ is treated as a pseudo-name here, indicating that the concept is expected to be well-known by the reader as an established entity. You can add a trademark symbol after to really drive home the effect (“they Simply Do Not Want To Hear™ about it”). Jun 16 at 11:33
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    It's a speech gesture alright. It may be "stylistics" and nevertheless "linguistics", usually "Graphematics". It's the difference between "shut up", "SHUT UP" and "STFU"
    – vectory
    Nov 16 at 5:50

1 Answer 1



“Does it have a name?” is a question that could use a little contextualization on its own. There tends to always be something normative in questions of definition. (This is a case of an inverse definition, where you want to know not what a word means, but what a thing is called.)

Obviously, you wanted to know specifically in the field of “linguistics”, but the matter is still the same. When someone normatively claims what the definition of a word is - implying there is a right or wrong answer, like that the phenomenon you mentioned is not called “symbology” - they can only do so with a tacit assumption of what examples are worthy to be used as evidence, and what are not. A normative definition is compromised of:

  1. An empirical observation: who used the term? Did this occur? The ^existence* of the term, at all.
  2. Is it ‘legitimate’? I could tell you that I read some friends who called it “Big-Casing It”. This is an empirically real (if true) incident of somebody pairing a language object (a series of words) with a thing. Is the answer acceptable, though?

It implies:

On the one hand, there is no end to the number of things you could call it - as a subjective human, you can freely associate what it means to you, what impression it gives, and what word or phrase you think would draw out the aspect you want to stress.

Because asking for the ‘correct’ word for something has no empirical or objective answer than “any word at all, you can make one up”, the only remaining part of the question, as to a ‘correct’ one, is, what do you mean by correct? What is the implied context here; whose word for it do you want to know; or, what would be some of your criteria for distinguishing between the right word association (amongst infinite possible ones) and a wrong one?

Then the question hinges on, what aspects of that are you trying to draw out?

You already provided two words, ‘capitalization’ and ‘emphasis’. Perhaps we need more specification, to define clearly, the context, where we should look in, for a word?

For example:

What do you think the effect is, when you read text like that? In this case, it’s expressing that some people are self-important, haughty or snooty. Why? Why does changing the letters have that effect? Some hypotheses:

  1. Capitalization in English associates with proper nouns. By drawing that association, does the device imply that it’s a specifically known tendency - a recurrent attitude, that deserves its own name? (Somewhat in the direct of like how “fear of missing out” became “FOMO”?)
  2. Capitalization often conveys “bigness” - we can emphasize our language BY WRITING IN ALL CAPITALS. Does the choice of letters just serve as an intensifier - does it cause the text to stand out, in any way? Or, does the “bigness” of the letters, connote the “bigness” that the snooty people see themselves as?

I am trying to give you what I think is a real answer to your question - “is there a word for that” - there can be many, when you look far enough. But that’s because it’s open to interpretation, because humans use their intuition in inflecting their use of language, in accordance with the impression it gives them. To find a good word for that, we should pursue further, what you think ‘it’ truly is, more precisely - or else we can just say, “It’s called capitalization.”

When you ask yourself “What is this? What’s really going on here?” the question could easily go beyond the standard confines of “linguistic theory” - the human association of “big letters” and “stuck-up people” depends on an ocean (an ontology) of knowledge - about our culture, about English, about words like “little people”.

In my opinion, you will get the best answer by interpreting it yourself: what do you think it conveys? Your impression is as good as any other, because only a human can say what they feel language really “means”, can attest what inner states it provokes.

  • Sure, I guess my question is: has this phenomenon been documented or legitimized in some way shape or form, like ALL-CAPS has. I do like Big-Casing it :) Nov 14 at 19:58

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