emphatic dashes


Senior Member
Jo noticed his forearms: lean, sinewy, tanned golden-brown, so different from Shelley’s pale skin. His dark hair was thick and shiny, and his eyebrows looked like emphatic dashes drawn above his eyes. She sighed and looked away, but the boy was undeterred.
source: Mrs Everything by Jennifer Weiner

I gather the general figurative meaning of having eyebrows looking like dashes (-). Looking up the difference between a hyphen and the different types of dashes was an eye opener for me. Now I wonder the literal meaning of emphatic. What makes a dash or a parenthesis emphatic?

Thank you.
Last edited:
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I’ve never come across the term ‘emphatic dash’ as an accepted way of describing em-dashes. But I can see that it would make sense to distinguish the use of a single dash from that of pairs of parenthetical dashes.


    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    In this particular case it probably means that he has dark, straight eyebrows. In other words, if his eyebrows were dashes they'd be boldfaced. but there is not such thing as an emphatic dash as far as I know. To continue the metaphor, someone else's eyebrows might look like a pair of sideways single quotes. That doesn't mean there is such a thing in terms of punctuation.
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