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Dingbat

From Academic Kids

A dingbat is a ornament or spacer used in typesetting, sometimes more formally known as a "printer's ornament". The term supposedly originated as onomatopoeia in old style metal-type print shops, where extra space around text or illustrations would be filled by "ding"ing an ornament into the space then "bat"ing tight to be ready for inking.

Poem typeset with generous use of decorative dingbats, 1880s
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Poem typeset with generous use of decorative dingbats, 1880s



The term has continued to be used in the computer industry to describe fonts that are made up of symbols and shapes instead of alphabetical or numeric characters.

An example (something like ITC Zapf dingbats series 100):

 
 


Here is the complete listing of dingbats in Unicode:

Unicode Dingbat Plane (270027BF)
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
2700
2710
2720
2730
2740
2750
2760
2770
2780
2790
27A0
27B0

For more examples of dingbat fonts, see Wingdings and Webdings. Another famous dingbat font, Zapf Dingbats, was designed by the typographer Hermann Zapf.


Cartoonist George Herriman had a newspaper comic strip called "The Dingbat Family", as it was originally of a small size so that printers could use it to fill space on the comics page like a dingbat. "The Dingbat Family" was an ancestor of Herriman's most famous creation, "Krazy Kat". The comic strip may have influenced the slang usage of the term "dingbat" as given below.


Dingbat is also a slang term, no longer widely used, to describe someone who has a silly, foolish, or clownish demeanor. It was a favorite insult of the fictional character Archie Bunker in the 1970s television show All In The Family.


There is also a game called "Dingbats".


Dingbat also refers to a building on stilts with room for parking underneath, a style of architecture common to post-war development in Los Angeles. (cf. http://parole.aporee.org/work/print.php?words_id=511 or http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m5072/is_32_23/ai_77290385)

External links

Example Dingbat Downloads (http://www.wantedfonts.com/browse.phtml?field=category&val=23) from WantedFonts.comde:Dingbats zh:Dingbat

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