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Apparently coined by American cartoonist Mort Walker in 1964.


  • IPA(key): /ˈɡɹɔːlɪks/
    • (file)


A simple cartoon with the characters' speech replaced with grawlix

grawlix (plural grawlixes or grawlix)

  1. A spiral-shaped graphic used to indicate swearing in comic strips.
    • 1995, William H. Gass, The Tunnel, page 159:
      He does all the Popeye voices, but prefers Olive Oyl's. He has noises for the nittles, the grawlix, the quimps, the jarns. He blows each balloon up before your ears. He reels home, +'s on his eyes, singing the spurl that rises like heat from his head.
  2. A string of typographical symbols, especially "@#$%&!", used (especially in comic strips) to represent an obscenity or swear word.
    • 2016, Michael Burke, ‎Olivia Fialho, ‎Sonia Zyngier, Scientific Approaches to Literature in Learning Environments, page 287:
      The work in this first section also involved identifying the purpose of grawlixes, the visual representation of swearing in comic strips.
    • 2020 December 10, Curtis Honeycutt, “Saying goodbye to the year of the grawlix”, in The Southside Times:
      If I told you that a grawlix infestation is inevitable, you’d probably respond with something to the effect of, “What the $#@! are you talking about?”
    • 2021 June 17, Jim Beckerman, “You've got (hate) mail, especially as a journalist. It's worth asking why”, in The Poughkeepsie Journal:
      Hate mail is just straightforward abuse ... the equivalent of what is called, in the comic-strip trade, grawlixes: @%&&#!!
    Synonym: obscenicon
  3. A series of violence related images in a speech bubble to represent obscenity, swear words or profanity.

See also[edit]