We all know about the three little dots we were taught to use in high school English class. The official name is the “ellipsis,” from the Greek, meaning “leave out.”
You will see the ellipsis used in print news stories when a journalist is quoting someone, but only the first and last parts of the quote are needed to answer a question. When the part in the middle is superfluous or irrelevant to the topic at hand, we can insert an ellipsis to indicate that we’ve left something out, whether for context or brevity. (It is imperative that we not alter the meaning of what was said.)
In the middle of a sentence, an ellipsis can be used to drag out a thought … or create a sense of mystery … or perhaps simply to list a casual series.
At the end of a sentence, an ellipsis could mean that the writer has something more to say, but wants you to think about it what that might be …
Bless Wikipedia’s heart for making it official that the ellipsis is “also known informally as dot-dot-dot.”
And thank goodness for that! If you saw “Mamma Mia!” you might recall the three teen girls reading the diary of Donna, the mom in the show. Her daughter reads to her friends about her mother’s long-ago liaisons with three different men. In some entries, the mom has written an ellipsis at the end of the sentence, and Sophie reads it thus: “We danced on the beach, and we kissed on the beach, and dot dot dot.”
The girls figure out what the “dot dot dot” must have meant, because that’s what one did “in the olden days.”
So the ellipsis can be serious and it can be fun. Recently, I’ve noticed that the three little dots have been transformed and are being used for a number of technical applications as well.
The most exciting, I think, is the three repeating dots when one is in the midst of a messaging conversation, such as a text on our phone. Those three dots indicate someone is typing, and another message is on the way! Oh, the anticipation!
Also recently, using a new computer, I wanted to watch a documentary on Vimeo, but wanted to cast it to our big TV screen. There was no little square box to click like the one on Netflix.
I started clicking other buttons and icons (as my children had taught me) and found three little vertical dots in the upper right corner of the screen. I clicked, and … Bingo! There was a whole other menu, and on it was “Cast,” along with a number of other options.
I’ve since discovered that those little dots are part of internet browser menu bars on most all of our computers.
Further, I’ve just learned that the icon has a name: “kabob.” And the additional items listed are the “kabob menu.” Apparently it is so named to distinguish that menu from the three little lines (“hamburger”) of other tech menus. How cool!
Then I started noticing those three dots elsewhere.
I’ve found the “dot dot dot” on Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, Hulu … and I’ve just started looking. I’m excited to learn more about what I’ve come to understand is the “more” button. Usually more is better, right?
So then I had another thought. Why don’t we all starting identifying this year as “2020 …”? We hope it won’t drag on, but we know something has been left out – lots of somethings. But, there is “more” to come after this, and “more” just has to be better.