Definition of scare quotes noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary


scare quotes

BrE BrE//ˈskeə kwəʊts//
; NAmE NAmE//ˈsker kwoʊts//
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quotation marks that a writer puts around a word or phrase to show that it is used in an unusual way, usually one that the writer does not agree with This pronouncement came from the organization’s ‘scientific’ committee (the scare quotes are mine). The journal doesn’t use the word ‘terrorist’, at least not without scare quotes.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: scare quotes