dingbat
Definition - A font that consists of a set of shapes instead of a set of alphanumeric characters.

Example -

An example of the "Funny Face" dingbat font.
An example of the "Funny Face" dingbat font.


Etymology -
According to the Wikipedia, the term originated as "onomatopoeia in old style metal-type print shops, where extra space around text or illustrations would be filled by dinging an ornament into the space, then batting it tight so that it would be ready for inking."
Note: The above explanation sounds so perfectly, etymologically apt; however, according to the OED — a much more reliable source — the origin is unknown.

Oxford English Dictionary -
The term's first citation is from 1921:
"Dingbats, heavy, wavy pieces of cut-off rule sometimes used beneath banner headlines. Also applies to any ornament."
(G. M. Hyde, Handbook for Newspaper Workers xi. 173)



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