names of "&", "@", and "#"(Words Frequently Sought)
(The lists of names given in this entry are DELIBERATELY incomplete. For a comprehensive list of formal and informal terms for these and many other keyboard symbols, see the entry ASCII in the Jargon File.) "&" is called "ampersand". The longest name for "@" is "commercial at sign"; the first and last words may each be omitted. The official ANSI/CCITT name is "commercial at". There are actually two typeset symbols, with distinct histories, for which we use "#" in ASCII text. One (with horizontal strokes slanted and thicker than the vertical strokes) is the musical "sharp (sign)", as in "the key of C# major". The other (with vertical strokes slanted) is called "number (sign)", as in "the team finished in the #5 position", or "pound (sign)", referring to weight, as in "a 5# bag of potatoes". Although use of this sign to denote weight has declined, "pound" is the most widely used name for it in the U.S. But it confuses people who expect that term to mean the symbol for sterling currency (located on many British keyboards in the same place as "#" is found on U.S. keyboards). "Number sign", adopted by ANSI/CCITT, is unambiguous, but little known in both the U.K. and the U.S. Computer-users in the U.K. usually call the symbol a "hash", from its appearance (reminiscent of marks one might make when chopping). Finally, in a failed attempt to avoid the naming problem by creating a new name, the term "octothorp(e)" (which MWCD10 dates 1971) was invented for "#", allegedly by Bell Labs engineers when touch-tone telephones were introduced in the mid-1960s. "Octo-" means eight, and "thorp" was an Old English word for _village_: apparently the sign was playfully construed as eight fields surrounding a village. Another story has it that a Bell Labs supervisor named Don MacPherson coined the word from the number of endpoints and from the surname of U.S. athlete James Francis Thorpe. Merriam-Webster Editorial Department told me: "All of the stories you record are known to us, but the evidence does not line up nicely behind any one of them."
This is a temporary page for the development of aue FAQ material and the testing of scripts.
Please do not bookmark this page.