*! or [emphatic asterisk] is the title of this blog.
The emphatic asterisk comes from a long ago email conversation with a friend. I put an asterisk in one of my emails for a footnote and couldn’t think of how to clarify my point. So she read, “I’m completely at a loss to what to say!*” with the footnote reading, “*!!!” Because me, at a loss of what to say, is just startling. Thus the emphatic asterisk became shorthand for surprise, alarm, and sometimes angst. At moments where words don’t suffice, just say “*!”. Imagine it like a bell ringing or a sudden intake of breath.
Someone suggested that *! is polite cursing. No, sorry to deflate your theory, but if I wanted to curse I wouldn’t do it politely.
So there you have it.