Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Dial One, Followed by the Octothorpe

Dial One, Followed by the Octothorpe Dial One, Followed by the Octothorpe Dial One, Followed by the Octothorpe By Maeve Maddox Everyone knows the cross-hatched symbol #. For some its the pound sign because it has been used by greengrocers as a symbol for pound on the little signs pricing fruit and vegetables: .75# (seventy-five cents a pound). For some its the tic-tac-toe sign because of the game that uses it as the playing area. Automated telephone systems instruct us to dial certain numbers, followed by the pound sign, a direction that confused me at first because I think of this symbol as the number sign. As if there werent already enough names for it, engineers at Bell have come up with an official moniker for it: the octothorpe. The octo part comes from the fact that the symbol has eight points. No one seems to be able to say with any certainty where the thorpe comes from. European phone companies, like British Telecom, call the symbol a square, a term apparently too simple for the North American telephone industry. On the other hand, rather than use the obvious word asterisk for that symbol on the dial, the telephone powers prefer to call it a star. Go figure. For an exploration of the etymology of octothorpe visit World Wide Words. Want to improve your English in five minutes a day? Get a subscription and start receiving our writing tips and exercises daily! Keep learning! Browse the Vocabulary category, check our popular posts, or choose a related post below:12 Types of LanguageGrammar Quiz #21: Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Clauses50 Synonyms for â€Å"Villain†

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