October 11, 2019

How Coleen Rooney … got people talking about the ellipsis again


The ellipsis… due a comeback? (Júlio Reis; Wikicommons under CC BY-SA 3.0)

Oh god, how to explain this to an American audience…

So, right, on Wednesday morning, Coleen Rooney, who is the wife of footballer Wayne Rooney (formerly of Everton and Manchester United, and currently of D.C. United), tweeted something rather remarkable:

(Rebekah Vardy, for the uninitiated, is the wife of Leicester City and England striker Jamie Vardy, who has appeared alongside Wayne Rooney in numerous England internationals.)

The internet, predictably, went absolutely bananas. For a generation raised on cult ITV drama Footballers’ Wivesthis was suddenly the real deal: public beef on a titanic scale.

It should be stated at this point that Rooney’s allegations are only levelled at Vardy’s account; are unproven; and, as the Guardian correctly pointed out in their handy explainer, “Rooney isn’t a legally qualified detective.” But my goodness, she has the makings of one.

Commentators picked up on the ingenious nature of Rooney’s technique, quickly dubbing her “Wagatha Christie“* and calling for her to be installed as the host of a hypothetical crime-solving show called “Sleuth Women.” The Guardian piece called it “the best day on Twitter of all time.” Yep, you read that right. Even better than “30-50 feral hogs” day.

The story is still evolving, but one slightly unexpected thing is certain: in one fell swoop, Rooney’s statement has reinvigorated the humble ellipsis, with many of Twitter’s more linguistically-minded users praising her for its unprecedented triple (+1) usage on

“It’s………Rebekah Vardy’s account.”

I mean, it’s just spectacularisn’t it? You can almost see her nearly removing her finger from the full-stop button after three presses – and then just thinking, yolo, and smashing away for a full seven more. Wonderful, wonderful work.

Anyway, the ellipsis has not always had the easiest of rides among writers. Elena Ferrante wrote in the Guardian last year that she’d stopped using them. Recently, Paris Martineau at The Outline wrote about the potential for “grand miscommunication” between older and younger generations whenever the three dots get involved. The writing skills service Emphasis even posted a “Five Most Annoying Ways to Use an Ellipsis” feature a few years ago.

However, as we saw on Wednesday, when deployed correctly, the ellipsis can still be a beautiful and devastating thing.

So, welcome back into the public discourse, ellipsis. We never doubted you…



*’WAG’ being the acronym for ‘Wives and Girlfriends’ of footballers, popularised during England’s 2006 World Cup campaign.

Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.