I am reading this article about being single, where the opening line is:

You're single a heat-seeking bachelor, committed to no one in particular, able to party like John Belushi and sleep until noon with no one underfoot to tell you to do otherwise. It's a great life, and why shouldn't it be?

Why are the underscore and dash there? And what does "heat-seeking" mean in that context?

  • 1
    The first is not an underscore, but an em dash. The second is a hyphen, used in this case to form a compound adjective. Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 22:42
  • @TylerJamesYoung cool i have never heard of this em dash Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 22:45
  • I’m sure you will start seeing them everywhere. As it says in the link I provided, it is an extremely versatile bit of punctuation. Be warned, however. That versatility means that it easy to overuse it. Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 22:48
  • @TylerJamesYoung if you understand that em dash could you provide me with a sum up of its use ? Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 22:49
  • It’s an attempt to imitate speech, where a thought can start and be interrupted by another with no great confusion to the listener. Some people disagree with its use, because it’s usually put in place of proper punctuation. In this case, it appears to be taking the place of a semicolon. Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 22:52

1 Answer 1


The dash after "single" is an em dash. See dash on wikipedia.

As for heat-seeking, I presume it means the bachelor is solely interested in finding a "warm/hot" woman, but without any other commitment such as marriage.

  • Given the term’s history describing missiles, I think “heat-seeking” is potentially suggestive. Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 22:45
  • what does this em dash means in that conext pelase? the same for dash (hyphen) Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 22:45
  • @Anaksunaman: Leave something to the imagination! Sure, there are overtones of what you say, to those inclined to see things that way. But figurative heat-seeking missiles don't always have to be that clinical/erotic. Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 4:10
  • @FumbleFingers Okay, okay. Something left to imagination now. Sorry. ;-) Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 5:25

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