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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

What is the origin of symbols like '@' and '#'? + The Origin of Other Signs! (from Oxford Living Dictionaries)

@ ⇒ The '@' sign originated as a scribe's quick way of writing the Latin word ad, especially in lists of prices of commodities. It's usually just known as 'the at sign' or 'the at symbol': although it has acquired various nicknames in other languages, none of these has so far caught on in English.

# ⇒ The '#' sign has several names. The most common is probably hash
  • In North American English, it's sometimes called the pound sign and used as a symbol for pounds weight: this can be confusing for British people for whom a pound sign is £.
  • It's also known as the number sign in North American English, in contexts such as go to question #2. In a musical context, the symbol is known as a sharp
  • The picturesque name octothorpe has also been introduced: it's said to have been invented by an employee of Bell Laboratories in the 1960s, in honour of the American athlete Jim Thorpe (with the octo-part deriving from the symbol's eight points).
  • In the large form in which it appears on telephones it's sometimes called a square.
  • Recently, the hash sign has acquired a new role. On social networking sites such as Twitter, it's attached to keywords or phrases so as to identify messages on a particular topic (e.g. #volcano; #Iceland). These keywords or phrases are known as hashtags.
💡 You may also be interested in:
  1. Is there a name for the dot above the letters i and j?  The dot above the letters i and j has a name – do you know what it’s called?
  2. What is the origin of the ampersand (&)?  The ampersand is the ‘&’ symbol that stands in place of ‘and’ – but where did it get its curious shape, and how long have people been using it?
  3. What is the origin of the dollar sign ($)?  Have you ever wondered where the dollar ($) sign came from? Our video explains the origin, and it might be different to what you think.
  4. What is the origin of the pound sign (£)?  Have you ever wondered where the pound (£) sign came from? Our video explains the origin, and it might be different to what you think.
  5. What is the origin of the question mark?  Rather fittingly, the answer is somewhat clouded in myth and mystery… we ask some searching questions on the topic.
  6. Is a question mark a full stop?  A question mark is used to indicate the end of a question. Which other functions does it have?
  7. Is emoji a type of language?  Emojis are everywhere – but do they count as a language? We explore the issue.
🔗 Go to Questions about symbols.

💡 Or take a look at: What is the origin of the word 'quiz'?
💡 You may also be interested in: What is the origin of the word 'OK'?


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