Apparently coined by American cartoonist Mort Walker in 1980.
- 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 spirl that rises like heat from his head.
- A string of typographical symbols, especially "@#$%&!", used (especially in comic strips) to represent an obscenity or swearword.
- A series of violence related images in a speech bubble to represent obscenity, swearwords, or profanity.
- Mort Walker, The Lexicon of Comicana
- "Holy $#!%: Where Did The Symbolic Swear Come From?", Dictionary.com. http://www.dictionary.com/e/what-the/. (February 8, 2018).