What Is the Real Name of the #?

octothorpe, hashtag, number sign

On Facebook and Twitter, you tag your friends with the @ symbol and topics with the #. If you see something that says #WordoftheDay, the tweet or post will concern the Word of the Day in some way. But what do you call the # symbol? Where did it come from? Its myriad names and its appearance are intertwined. 

The # symbol is commonly called the pound sign, number sign and more recently the hashtag. It is called the pound sign because the symbol comes from the abbreviation for weight, lb, or “libra pondo” literally “pound by weight” in Latin. When writing lb, it was not uncommon for scribes to cross the letters across the top with a line across the top, like a t. See the example below.

The phrase “number sign” arose in Britain because “pound sign” could easily be confused with the British currency. The # symbol is sometimes spoken as the word “number” as in the word “number two pencil.”


But what is its official name? The octothorpe. What does that mean? It’s actually a made-up word. It was invented in the same laboratories where the telephone came from. The scientists at Bell Laboratories modified the telephone keypad in the early 1960s and added the # symbol to send instructions to the telephone operating system. Since the # symbol didn’t have a name, the technicians made one up. They knew it should be called “octo-” something because it has eight ends around the edge. But how to make “octo” into a noun? What happened next is not entirely clear. According to one report, Bell Lab employee Don MacPherson named it after the Olympian Jim Thorpe. Another former employee claims it was a nonsense word that is a joke. Another unverifiable report is much more etymologically satisfying. The Old Norse word “thorpe” meant “farm or field”, so octothorpe literally means “eight fields.”

The word hash predates these other terms but was not very popular until recently. (Maybe because it reminds us of mediocre diner food.) It first referred to stripes on military jackets as early as 1910. In the 1980s, it came to refer to the # symbol. Since the ascent of social media, hashtag has become the favored word for the # symbol.

Similar symbols appear in many other places. Musicians recognize # as the sharp symbol, denoting a note one half step higher. Copy editors see a symbol meaning “space,” as in “add a space between two sentences.” In computer code, the # symbol means that everything that follows is only comment, not instructions.

Do you use the # often? What other characters would you like us to discuss on the the Dictionary.com blog?

See Also:

  • Why does the dollar sign have two lines? Find out here.
  • What symbol used to be a part of the alphabet, was removed, but is still used every day? Learn about it here.


  1. Rogelio -  November 4, 2016 - 12:22 pm

    #=hashtag=hot topic. Hash marks in football

  2. Matthew Chuch -  October 6, 2016 - 11:24 am

    I like to trick a lot of people by saying what is an octothorpe.

  3. Franco -  September 30, 2016 - 1:00 pm

    I first came across he symbol # in the context of Set Theory where the Cardinalitry of a set S is denoted by #S(cardinalS) and have always referred to # as “cardinal” . Has no one else come across this usage? This usage precedes the terms hash and ashtag by many years.

    • Donna Samoyloff -  October 3, 2016 - 10:56 pm

      I’m too old to have ever had Set Theory in school, so I haven’t a clue what you’re talking about. But coming from a family of typesetters, printers and graphic artists, I can tell you that # was called “the number sign” most commonly in the trades. In writing a memo, there’d be a big difference between “5 pencils” and “#5 pencils”. Back in the day when proofreading was done in pairs — one person reading, the other carefully watching the type — the # was read as “flash”. I like your name “cardinal”, which makes far more sense than “octothorpe”.

    • Lorraine -  October 5, 2016 - 8:49 am

      A hashtag is another word for octothorpe teenagers usually use it

    • Lorraine -  October 5, 2016 - 8:51 am

      Not many people use the word hashtag its a very interesting word

      • Daniel -  October 27, 2016 - 9:38 am

        O.o Ma’am, so many of them do. I have worked with many in the 16 to 26 age range. They say hashtag as if that is the only term for the octothorpe.

  4. nahby -  September 19, 2016 - 11:53 pm

    Choose love not war. Let’s not argue okay. Whether some people called it hashtag, a number sign, a pound sign, an octothorpe, so what? If they’re happy using it, just let them be. And be happy too. Why letting that small sign # ruin your mood? Arguing someone doesn’t have any cost.

    • rich -  October 2, 2016 - 7:12 pm

      I am not here to argue and if I irritate Im sorry… I have always know # as a pound sign. In most cases its not that critical, however in an age of needing to know the exact thought in every word, when the words pound sign are used, many think “lb.” or “#”. Rather than have a 9 hour debate on the news channel, somebody coined the phrase hashtag. Personally I don’t like the new name I am very much old school. I do however understand the desire for a name for the # symbol that isn’t confused with anything. The # was actually called an octothorp. Oddly enough I find that name less stupid sounding than hashtag.

      • Lorraine -  October 5, 2016 - 8:54 am

        I don’t know if there is another word for hashtag rich

  5. andrew646 -  September 19, 2016 - 8:51 am

    Wow, thanks adults of this comment section. I’m kidding. Many of the comments here call the younger generation ‘stupid’ or ‘dumb’. It’s really rude, and I bet the reason for this is because adults of your generation complained about you as well. I grew up calling it a pound sign, but that doesn’t mean its not a ‘hashtag’ or an ‘octothorpe’. It really bothers me that adults are acting this way so openly, and thinking about how adults may act when I have children roaming around on the internet. Please think about what you comment here!

  6. Vanessa Zimmerman-Mason -  September 18, 2016 - 7:01 am

    commentere- ca

    Loved the commentary(s)

    some engineering
    medical usages
    not included

    • Lorraine -  October 5, 2016 - 8:55 am

      You don’t make any sense Vanessa

  7. gabby -  September 13, 2016 - 6:26 am

    wow i didn’t know that thanks

    • coolfun321 -  September 20, 2016 - 9:09 am

      cool isn’t it

      • rich -  October 2, 2016 - 7:22 pm

        only if you read the last words first… LOL :)

  8. DonutCare564 -  June 9, 2016 - 3:52 pm

    Dumb ‘hashtags’, finally i know its NOT called the dumb name ‘hashtag’ Thank you dictionary.com! Now i can correct my friends and impress them! (XD >XD 0_0 lol my faces!)

    • DonutCare564 -  June 9, 2016 - 3:58 pm

      Quick question, when did the faces in chats start, like these: XD XC _<)?

      • Vashe -  July 13, 2016 - 6:04 am

        I remember using them on mIRC in the early 2000′s (I was 15~ back then)
        … So it’s probably a bit older than that.

      • iiItzDuckii -  September 22, 2016 - 2:10 pm

        Well ik that XD is a sign but idek about XC or _<

    • David E Gabert -  August 3, 2016 - 9:35 pm

      It is the sharp sign; I like it when musicians wrote or say”B #” or Be sharp,,,,,,, which of course is C, the only note with a major scale with no flats or sharps. Hash tag, pound sign, number sign…well, you all might as well “pound sand”…this and these new terms may do just that, and like shifting sand on the Desert, appear on briefly, a sort of mirage. The “popular” usages notwithstanding, why can’t we just stay with “sharp”. It has a ring! David Gabert

      • Ron -  September 15, 2016 - 11:42 am

        Actually, there is such a thing as a B sharp and an E flat, but you are correct to some extent, because F flat can be reffered to as E natural, and an E sharp can be reffered to as an F natural, depending on what key you’re in.

      • Evan Brydon -  September 30, 2016 - 11:36 am

        Just to clarify, the pound sign/hash tag and the sharp diacritical marking in music are actually different.

        A pound sign/hash tag has 2 horizontals lines with 2 angled vertical lines.

        A sharp marking has has 2 vertical lines with 2 angled horizontal lines.

    • wayne -  September 13, 2016 - 8:16 am

      I am old school. It is either a tic tac toe board or a pound sign. It is not a hashtag. Just as 1g equals 1 grand not 1 k equals one grand. Also evoo is not a word. They are letters. Also don’t forget the dots to denote extra virgin olive oil. This should be par for the course for: newscasters, writers, commentators, etc. . Wake up america!

      • Someone -  September 20, 2016 - 4:49 pm

        i don’t agree, our would changes and we have to change with it. It’s called survival of the fittest, and our would is a modern place now and we must be modern people to keep up with its change or we will be left behind. So # is now a hashtag simbol, and get used to it because it will probably change again in the next 20 years.

        Its just our generation we have nothing better to do because we are so lazy we just do stuff like that and say we are geniuses and by the way im a twelve year old that has to say something coming from a twelve year old

  9. Snickerdoodle 725 -  May 17, 2016 - 4:54 pm

    well what does it mean when people do something like
    you’re so ### nice or ###please
    I hate it when people substitute # 4 words
    is it that they guess people know what they mean
    It happens all the time when I play Roblox

    • Samir -  May 24, 2016 - 5:01 pm

      Roblox always censors things for no reason. It uses #’s

      • DonutCare564 -  June 9, 2016 - 3:44 pm

        Roblox does not know what is swearing and what is not, it thought ‘Scam’ was a bad word! ( the game was a scam)

  10. Izzy G. -  March 31, 2016 - 4:33 pm

    Hi. I am a young person. I was going along in my usual business, came across this article, read it, and then started on the comments. I found a lot of stuff about “you are wrong if you call a # this” and “young people think they are so important” and “old people are crabby and think just because they’re older they think that they are superior”. Being in the gifted class, there was a lot of arguing in our debates unit, but none of it was as harsh as this. Please think before you enter a comment. Because you might be hurting someone. Even though we are human and humans are programmed to make mistakes, we shouldn’t be making mistakes that hurt people. We live on the same planet, we are the same species. Big fancy weapons are being invented. If you got into a argument with someone over the Internet, it could get bigger and bigger, more people involved, until we started a war. And nobody wins when there is a war. So please, consider my comment, consider others comments, and consider your comments. Consider your actions and words. Because you have the power to change the world. And only you can decide if you use that power for good or evil. Please, choose good, to keep yourself and the rest of humanity safe.

    - Izzy G.

    • one giant -  April 28, 2016 - 7:20 am

      call me mr. one giant or one giant but you need a place to stay don’t bother asking me go to yo mama place

    • Tacit Vehemence -  June 4, 2016 - 12:53 pm

      I really like your reply. Good to see such an attitude in the world. Cheers!

    • DonutCare564 -  June 9, 2016 - 3:46 pm

      Good point! :D

    • alsointhegtprogram -  June 16, 2016 - 12:54 pm

      “Being in the gifted class”, I will tell you that being in such a program does not give you any superiority in the session of discussion. I, for one, know a great multitude of idiots in my class who don’t know anything of the topic, thus not arguing at all. Just letting you know that it really doesn’t mean anything at all in your nice little speech of goodness.

      • McCraghe -  July 6, 2016 - 5:18 pm

        Negativity ftw. Gosh.

    • No one -  July 8, 2016 - 10:01 am

      No one wants to hurt anyone, but, the truth is the truth. No one should claim a false thing is right, thus deceiving people. That is what really hurts people. Keeping them in the dark. The Bible has stated that people will believe in and substitute wrong for right. Please do not substitute wrong definitions as being correct.

      • Vashe -  July 13, 2016 - 6:13 am

        Funny thing you mention the Bible here… Religions are the most deceiving thing in the world.. because every sane person knows that a “god” like depicted in religions don’t exist.

        • Vashe -  July 13, 2016 - 6:14 am

          *as depicted *doesn’t

        • anonymous -  November 9, 2016 - 9:50 am

          Christianity is a relationship not a religion, and I believe that there is ONE God. I am not insane.

      • Sub. -  September 29, 2016 - 3:35 am

        Thank you “No one” for your comment. Formidable!!!

    • Vashe -  July 13, 2016 - 6:07 am

      You’ll discover than human nature is as beautiful as Disney and movies picture it.

      Human nature is stinky and ugly. We’re all like that and you’re no exception

      • Vashe -  July 13, 2016 - 6:10 am

        *not as beautiful :)

    • Rob lcj -  August 4, 2016 - 6:19 am

      Young people always think they know more than a person that has experienced in life. I will say that all the answers aren’t in a book. Living life is the true test of life. Can you survive it or not is the question. Second thing ” you say no one wins a war. I guess Hitler is still alive and killing Jews and Japan is still bombing Pearl Harbor. That is a young person for us. Go back to school and live life for couple decades and get back to us.

    • MJMadrid -  September 27, 2016 - 8:48 am

      Spoken like a true scholar, Izzy G! I’m an old person (63) and I’m dismayed by the ridiculous antics I see everyday by people my age or older. Just because you have a few years under your belt doesn’t make you any better than anyone else. Unless you are in a situation where your life is endangered you have no excuse NOT to be civil. People who argue about the name of a symbol (when all the names are being discussed) exhibit a inflated sense of self-importance. You can’t maintain an open mind when you’ve placed yourself on a pedestal!

  11. Okodel Pius -  March 22, 2016 - 5:50 pm

    It’s very common on both Facebook and Twitter when using the hashtag (#) to write something.

    • Clay -  June 2, 2016 - 9:54 am

      Only very stupid people call the “#” a “hashtag”. A hashtag is a combination of a hash character (the “#”) and a tag (a short sequence of characters). Together, the hash and the tag combine to form a hashtag.

      • Wyatt -  June 5, 2016 - 11:00 am

        Well I don’t think misinformed people are “stupid” but yes you are correct about the hash and tag combining to make a hashtag

      • Rob lcj -  August 4, 2016 - 6:23 am

        The world is full of slangs and always will like the kids now say ” man that was
        Sick” meaning it was good. To me it’s is the most stupid thing I have heard but I have to except it because I’m not in their generation.

      • Bread -  October 4, 2016 - 8:59 am

        The world has changed ~ Ideals have changed ~ Youth has changed.The hash key mostly appears in front of tags to help with recognition of the tags. We should all learn to respect it, no matter how ‘stupid’ it is reported to become. If we do not like it, we should learn to express that opinion towards others without showing any bias or ultimately, just keep that opinion to ourselves if we feel it may ‘offend’ . Calling youth ‘stupid’ (although I understand that Clay was referring to the majority of people using the phrase ‘hashtag’ not specifically targeted at the youth) is not nice. bhgggggggggggg>? (cat stepped on keyboard, he may be expressing offense haha)

        This paragraph has been written by a member of the youthful society, just a 12 year old expressing their opinions, nothing to be taken seriously, but I thought I would put my views into this matter as a person who uses the combination of the words ‘Hash’ and ‘Tag’ regularly. :) Thanks for reading this huge boring paragraph :)

  12. Scribe of Roses -  March 6, 2016 - 12:25 pm

    Ha, I will always see it as sharp, no matter how many times I hear “hashtag”.

    • Rene Farlow -  March 24, 2016 - 4:17 pm

      You and me both!

    • AxeBane -  April 21, 2016 - 5:57 pm

      The ‘sharp’ symbol is actually different to this; the slanting is to the left rather than to the right, and the bars in the middle are slanted upwards so that they aren’t hidden by the bar line.

      So yeah. They’re actually different things.

      • Barbara Willis -  September 13, 2016 - 2:41 pm

        different FROM or similar TO Why can’t people speak English properly?

  13. Nathaniel -  February 22, 2016 - 10:06 pm

    Ha so funny

    • pimi8522 -  March 7, 2016 - 10:42 am


  14. Max -  February 8, 2016 - 8:28 am

    “It’s actually a made-up word.”

    What, as opposed to a fruit from the word tree or something extracted from a word mine? ALL words are made up, surely?

    • John -  May 3, 2016 - 1:27 am

      No, most words are made from little bits- e.g, telephone is made up of tele and phone, while tele is also used for telegram and phone is used for other words (none of which come to mind at the moment). So when they made up this symbol they did not know which parts of words to use.

      • Xen -  May 12, 2016 - 2:47 pm

        And yet those bits themselves had to be made up as well, no?

  15. ERIC -  December 29, 2015 - 10:06 pm

    # is also known as the sign for checkmate.

    • R Dalka -  January 28, 2016 - 4:08 pm

      The pound sign does not have anything to do with computer code. What is really used in computer code that means that everything that follows is only a comment is //

      • endoped -  February 3, 2016 - 5:07 pm

        While this is true in languages such as java, c++, and C (modern day gcc will recognize // as a comment in a .c or .h file….but this style wasn’t used in old style C…. /*…*/ was the original C comment syntax), trying to comment something with // in a perl, python, or bash script, where an octothorpe is used to mark a comment, will only result in compile time errors. Trying either in a vim script, where ” is used to comment, will cause errors, as well.

      • Tzarls -  May 2, 2016 - 7:46 am

        Python uses the # symbol for comments.

      • Jan -  August 2, 2016 - 12:52 pm

        The pound sign is £. What sort of pound is the # ? The weight? That is lb.
        Two countries divided by signs.

  16. Elsa -  November 24, 2015 - 9:01 am

    When I go to school ,she gets upset. A lot.

  17. Elsa -  November 24, 2015 - 8:57 am

    LOL,my friend is driving me NUTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Chris G -  October 12, 2015 - 12:23 am

    I love this artcile. It’s neat learning the history of our language. However, I have noticed that some folks who have knowledge insist on correcting everyone, whether they want to know or not. Here’s the thing I have found about being correct. Sometimes it’s just not enough. I’ll explain…

    I did technical support over the phone for several years. For the most part, I knew exaclty how to troubleshoot and fix people’s techincal problems. The hard part was communicating with the person on the other end of the phone at their knowledge level in a patient, respectful manner. I really didn’t have the right to become agitated with someone because they have never copied and pasted text or don’t know how to click and drag. I learned those things back in the days of Windows 3.1, but that didn’t matter. If I wanted the person’s problem to be fixed AND have them hang up the phone happy, I had to start from where they were and gently lead them to where they needed to be, Sometimes it was frustrating, for them and for me, but it’s not their fault that they didn’t know what I knew. Not everyone has a knack for technology. Some people think of it as the enemy. As long as they were willing to accept direction, I was willing to work with them. Most people hung up the phone with fixed problems and a better understanding of how to use their computer.

    I think the same philosophy is true for language. Not everyone has a passion for learning or had an easy time with spelling and grammar in school. Not everyone has a college education. Not everyone had wonderful, supportive parents and teachers growing up. If we want people to become better, we respect where they are, we realize some things are not their fault, and we patiently teach them as they are willing to learn.

    That’s why I think articles like this are great. It actually entices people to learn something about our language. This is the 5th article I read on this site tonight. The articles teach me something in a fun, interesteing, non-threatening kind of way. Thanks to the author!

    • paige -  November 10, 2015 - 5:32 am


      • Dallas B. -  January 21, 2016 - 7:06 am


    • Dee -  November 19, 2015 - 8:57 am

      Nice comment, Chris G. If only more posts were as thoughtful as yours. Have a great day.

    • Elsa -  November 24, 2015 - 9:02 am

      You really understand things I guess.

    • Terry S -  December 4, 2015 - 4:49 pm

      Very well said; it is difficult not to correct people their use (? abuse) of the language; sometimes best to leave the issue alone; when I correct my wife with her use of subjective and objective nouns, she gets upset (..between you and I ….). It is not worth the trouble; smile and get on with the day.

      • Dallas B. -  January 21, 2016 - 7:05 am


    • Sinae -  December 5, 2015 - 9:38 am

      Very nicely stated Chris! You’re so right on point here. Thank you! I also, love this site, learning the history of language and where they came from (words and symbols for ex) and even how to pronounce them! :)

    • R Dalka -  January 28, 2016 - 4:09 pm

      Does not comment get looked over before posting it?

    • Lisa -  March 11, 2016 - 5:38 pm

      Your way of thinking is to be commended! You demonstrate compassion in a very grounded way. Thank you for your patience and humility.

    • Mech -  March 24, 2016 - 9:27 pm

      Kudos to you Chris G. That is another funny word – Kudos. I loved your perspective.

  19. PinkiePyy -  October 7, 2015 - 11:19 am

    Do this symbol: %
    ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-)

    • Sinae -  December 5, 2015 - 9:39 am

      Called the percentage symbol. Percent. I am 99.9% sure that this is the name for it ;)

  20. Mims -  September 18, 2015 - 3:22 pm

    Lol well that solves that mystery. I love when etymology solves the everyday. Octothorpe: WordNerd

  21. Beandon -  September 12, 2015 - 6:58 am

    number teller. I called that because what it stands for.

    • victor -  September 23, 2015 - 9:21 am


  22. xXSWAGNAMITEXx -  September 11, 2015 - 1:09 am

    my real name has a hashtag or whatever you call in in it : xXSWAGNAMITE#YOLO420Xx

  23. Caleb -  September 1, 2015 - 3:39 pm

    Boy do I look stupid. I heard at one point that it was called the pound sign because standard American typewriters didn’t come with a British pound key (£), so most typist would substitute with an Octothorpe. I’ve been correcting friends an family that used # to represent lbs…. Whoops!

    • Sinae -  December 5, 2015 - 9:46 am

      LOL…. That is funny! :D

  24. Sam -  August 22, 2015 - 7:46 pm

    The US has a lot of things that it wont change such as Fahrenheit and Yards Feet and Inches. Also i think that the world moves on and that “hashtag”(even though its wrong) is its common name and we need to accept the fact that not many people call it the octothorpe anymore.

    • Alex Atkin UK -  November 9, 2015 - 7:58 am

      As the article says, its been referred to as hash since the 1980s so hashtag is perfectly logical.

      Its always been the hash key to me.

  25. LaurieP -  August 22, 2015 - 12:30 pm

    It doesn’t really matter what it’s real name is. The youth of today (who seem to think everyone else older didn’t have a youth) will stick to ‘hashtag’ as its name no matter what it’s being used for. It would be funny if they looked at a work of music and tried to find out what it was all about on Twitter. Today’s youth think they invented everything that’s currently ‘cool’ like the selfie. Ha ha, sorry young ones but we’ve been snapping ourselves for years AND using the word too. I don’t do social media much as it infuriates me to see so many lazy attempts at stringing a decent sentence together. If they put as much effort into their grammar and spelling then their debates and arguments might just hold up for once. Phones and tablets are numbing their brains. Ask one of them how they would cope for a whole day without their phone and I kid you not, they just stop, stare ahead and drool.

    • CaseyG -  September 2, 2015 - 1:48 am

      I’m a ‘youth’ and it really annoys me when people call it a hash tag; it’s a hash or a number sign. NOT a hash tag.

      • CaseyG -  September 2, 2015 - 1:49 am

        OR an octothorpe.

        • CaseyG -  September 2, 2015 - 1:50 am


          • Sinae -  December 5, 2015 - 12:18 pm

            pound symbol…..

      • artzonia -  October 26, 2015 - 7:36 pm

        I agree. im still at a young age but I hate it when people say omg #tgifriday or when I cant read the darn thing

      • Rene Farlow -  March 24, 2016 - 4:52 pm

        I have multiple musically inclined friends who refer to it as the sharp.

    • Marta -  September 18, 2015 - 5:45 am

      Well put!

    • Austin -  November 23, 2015 - 7:54 am

      And some older people will always seem crabby and act as if all kids are the same? Since, I really don’t care about my phone and my phone doesn’t numb my brain. But thanks anyways!

    • Tinfoil -  December 2, 2015 - 9:18 am

      I can say that is true. Whenever I hear someone at my school say “Hash-tag,” I feel like I want to tell them that it isn’t a “Hash-tag.” Just to say, I am only 13 years old but the smartest in my class.

    • Young person -  February 20, 2016 - 1:06 pm

      I’m here to defend my generation:

      First of all, complaints about young people date ages back and no, your generation didn’t invent them. Your great-grandparents already complained.

      Well, I doubt young people think older people didn’t have a youth, they generally do think they had a youth, but they don’t act all understanding really, but that’s another old problem.

      I haven’t seen any young people claim, this generation invented everything, that’s cool. I wonder where you saw that.

      I’ve been on social media, something I rarely spend time on while on the internet and I haven’t seen that many lazy attempts of putting sentences together, but then again, I haven’t seen that many profiles, I only tend to look at profiles of people I know.

      I’m rather talented at spelling and grammar and it’s not a problem if people aren’t. There’s plenty of reasons someone couldn’t be.

      First of all, phones and tablets are an invention of your generation.

      If I had to spend a day without technology, I’d probably be clueless at first, but I’m sure I’ll get an idea.

      That’s really a rude comment of yours, please take it back.

      Thanks for your attention.

      - A Young Person

    • XXURDUMBXX -  April 16, 2016 - 12:46 pm

      I find it funny how you would go out of your way to comment on the younger generation considering you probably did so while using technology that was invented for the younger generation including iPhones and Samsung Galaxies! Also, many people of our generation can go weeks and months without electronics and can still be productive. Many people also use technology to learn other languages or learn musical instruments because that technology is available to us and we are taking advantage of it and bettering ourselves. So I’m really sorry that you cannot accept innovation and how it is helping our generation.

  26. magicmaker51 -  July 7, 2015 - 6:40 pm

    Early in the game I was told it was referred to as “bilr” which stood for “button in lower right.” Someone at IBM (where I worked at the time) insisted that the telephone companies were pushing this term. We all eventually stuck to “pound” when reading it aloud.

    • Adore Chalice -  July 22, 2015 - 1:34 am

      The sign, #(called hash) is used on the telephone to command a dial. eg. #123#. And to prevent the command dialed code from remainding or getting into the phonebook or dialing list, except it is saved, eg. *801#

    • JBSPuddintane -  September 2, 2015 - 8:06 am

      I recall a suggested phone-related name for the mark being “BARB”, “button at right-bottom”.
      Short, sweet, and self-explanatory.

      • Sinae -  December 5, 2015 - 9:53 am

        Not really… “Self-explanatory” … That is just another lazy abbreviation that people use like, LOL, TTYL etc…. I doubt anyone would have any clue what you were saying if you said that. “Hey, have you used the BARB on your phone to make a call?” Silly! It is a Hashe, pound sign, or even a number sign. But, NOT a BARB or as someone else tried to use above BILR… SMH…LOL :/

  27. Alan Krueger -  June 22, 2015 - 3:19 pm

    A “hashtag” is a tag made with a keyword and the hash (#) character. “#” is not a hashtag, “#omg” is.

    • Martin -  July 30, 2015 - 5:44 pm

      Right. The octothorpe is often called hash. In #omg, omg is the tag. Technically, people should just call #omg a tag.

    • Sinae -  December 5, 2015 - 12:21 pm

      Good example. Thanks! Now, hopefully, some others will read this and get it! ;)

  28. Ara -  June 3, 2015 - 7:02 pm

    In Spanish we call.it «signo numeral», which means numeral sign.

    • Andres -  June 8, 2015 - 9:55 am

      In Mexico we refer to the hashtag as “gato”. Meaning: “Cat”
      I always thought that had some reference with the old board game Tic Tac Toe matching Xs and Os.

    • WaltBJ -  March 10, 2015 - 10:53 am

      # as in pigpen; viz. “pigpen code”.

    • gerrievv -  May 13, 2015 - 12:36 pm

      I have referred to the # as the HASH sign since my introduction to computers in 1969.

  29. Fred G -  February 22, 2015 - 3:20 am

    Please discuss the @ sign

    • Steve in CHGO -  March 3, 2015 - 11:04 am

      The retrofitting to the Old Norse “eight fields” sounds made-up to me. Show us some research. Besides, it doesn’t fit the object. There are 8 points but NINE fields, like when you play tic-tac-toe.

      • Richie -  March 31, 2015 - 7:59 am

        With the exemption of “0″ the 9 fields are there for 9 numbers.
        THEREFORE, the # sign should mean – number lot or space, fields for numbers. *(asterisk) means omission or something is missing.
        0(zero) means zilch. Then #(should mean lot or add number)
        -Richard, Brooklyn, NY

    • Dofin Lover -  April 22, 2015 - 9:38 am

      I would like to see that and the & sign

      • r0wl4nd -  December 16, 2015 - 1:50 am

        “What…this (&)…that’s an ampersand” Family Guy taught me the name of this character!

      • Rene Farlow -  March 24, 2016 - 5:18 pm

        The ampersand was at the end of the alphabet, but was originally just and, but because and and would sound weird, they added per se (pronounced per -like person- say),which means ‘by itself’ it got slurred together and became ampersand.
        I now say my ABCs x, y, z, and per se and.

  30. MAD_SCIENCE_JACK -  February 16, 2015 - 3:50 pm

    Please do not use this for anything other than its original intended purpose, as the people who use it in front of things like #thismakesyoulookretarded, lower the I.Q. of everyone around them and it hurts.

    • Steven -  March 25, 2015 - 8:58 am


        • Admin of Common Sense -  July 23, 2015 - 9:57 am

          He’s clearly indicating that Jack is scared of change using one of the currently adapting forms of the pound sign. His remark was actually brilliant if you would take the time to think about it.
          #winning #whyyousomadbro?

    • Better than Jack -  May 17, 2015 - 1:30 am

      How does it make someone seem ‘retarded’?
      Social media outlets such as twitter wanted people to be able to search for specific tweets with certain phrases, and the # symbol was chosen. It, in no way, can make someone seem less intelligent to apply a hastag to a tweet. The contents of the hashtag, however, is a different story.

      • Amie -  May 19, 2015 - 8:06 am


      • Tinfoil -  December 2, 2015 - 9:21 am

        This comment thread is basically Reddit, with children.

    • Amie -  May 19, 2015 - 8:09 am

      How does it make us look dumb? (Or as you say retarded) How does it lower out I.Q.’s? How does it hurt? Does it hurt someone physically, emotionally, mentally? This doesn’t make any sense to me.
      ~~Mother of 2

      • josuha -  June 15, 2015 - 1:12 am

        it hurts because morons keep using words wrong, other morons think its funny, and intelligent people get ridiculed by idiots to the point they give up on being intelligent. its detrimental to society. using words randomly without know what they mean leads to misunderstandings and arguments. those can hurt.

        • Jerry -  June 15, 2015 - 1:28 pm

          Hahaha no one has ever “given up on being intelligent” in all of history. The uses of the # symbol aren’t mutually exclusive, you can figure out which meaning is intended extremely easily based on the context. Words have been ever changing since the origin of language, and just because this symbol happens to have garnered another (positive) use doesn’t make it immediately moronic.

        • Si -  September 13, 2015 - 5:24 am

          “It hurts” not “it hurts” this is the start of a sentence.
          “keep using words incorrectly” not “keep using words wrong” adverb required as you are referring to using.
          “it’s funny” not “its funny” it’s is a contraction, its is a reference to ownership.
          Comma almost always shouldn’t go before and. This is one of those occasions.
          “It’s detrimental” not “its detrimental”, see first two.
          Using not using, see It hurts.
          Those not those, see It hurts.
          You really need to make sure your of English is spot on before complaining about use of language.

          • Sinae -  December 5, 2015 - 12:02 pm

            #You really need to make sure your of English is spot on before complaining about use of language.

            What? I think you missed a word in this last sentence while trying to correct someone else’s mistake! Does that make you a “moron”?

          • JJ -  July 16, 2016 - 1:04 pm

            “Commas almost always shouldn’t go before ‘and’.” Not true Mr/Ms Perfect. A comma is always used between 2 independent clauses, just before conjunctions of coordination, such as and, or, but etc…. The comma is often omitted in casual style, yes, and I have no problem with that, but then, you are the one bothered by it. So you should know better…than us all. In fact, it is where the sentence has three clauses that the comma is omitted before “and”. Not quite the case, here.

            As for capitalization, check e.e. cummings’ poetry.

            Have a good day!

  31. Allen Falfa -  February 13, 2015 - 5:08 pm

    I have a problem with this article. it says that the symbol # was created in Bell Labs and was given the name “octothorp” but wait, Written music is much older than the telephone. So what did they use for the sharp before the octothorp symbol was created. This article is another example of Americans stamping everything as American made. Next thing they will say is that they build the pyramids in Egypt.

    • jpmcool -  February 19, 2015 - 6:49 am

      It never says the symbol was created in the lab only the name u should read an article first, before making a ridiculous assumption about a country that has over 300 million people, that like me saying hey eruopean why don’t you go drink some coffe and get welfare while you sit back. See ridiculous yet a common misconception of many eruopeans. They hate us cuz they anus!!!. Hater!!!

      • WiT -  May 7, 2015 - 7:58 am

        What an enjoyably ironic lack of self awareness.

        • JBSPuddintane -  September 2, 2015 - 8:10 am

          The #hyphen is #dead.

          • HA!!! -  December 5, 2015 - 12:11 pm

            LOL @ #hyphenisdead

    • Kevin R. -  February 19, 2015 - 7:26 pm

      The symbol has been around for a long time. The official name was invented by Bell Laboratories. Also, I don’t think any educated U.S. citizen would claim that we built the pyramids.

    • amaziah -  March 9, 2015 - 1:04 pm

      i agree with you

    • chewie -  March 11, 2015 - 2:06 pm

      I built the pyramids. by hand. in 6 days.

      • Taylor -  March 15, 2015 - 11:07 am

        WTF, really, You must not have a life to come up with that comment “chewie”

      • Balcuna -  March 22, 2015 - 2:11 am

        And I kept passing up ( and up ) cups of tea .

    • Luwen S. -  March 24, 2015 - 11:22 am

      The sharp ♯ and the octothorpe # are different, first of all. The sharp has two vertical lines but no horizontal lines. The octothorpe has two horizontal lines but no vertical lines. And your final comment, while cute, is rather retarded.

      • JBSPuddintane -  September 2, 2015 - 8:12 am

        The octothorpe, then, has two flats!

        • Scribe of Roses -  March 6, 2016 - 12:20 pm

          Oh my gosh, that is brilliant! You are pretty CLEF-er!

      • Sinae -  December 5, 2015 - 12:14 pm

        Very nice catch Luwen!!

    • Matt -  April 8, 2015 - 1:06 pm

      Please re-read and note that they don’t say it was invented in a lab.

      Also, the number sign is not used in music. The sharp sign is, and it’s a different symbol with a different origin.

      • ArcticFox0323 -  May 17, 2016 - 4:49 pm


  32. David Cunningham -  February 6, 2015 - 5:44 am

    I’ll always call it the pound sign but then again I am not from theses new times just call me old school

    • Kevin O. -  February 15, 2015 - 2:42 pm

      The octothorpe is the copyrighted name for the # button on a standard telephone key pad. All other uses and names are coincidental.

      • FiOS-Dave -  July 1, 2015 - 9:08 pm

        Maybe that is why I saw it called an Octomorph, many tears ago!

    • Kevin O. -  February 15, 2015 - 3:43 pm

      One more thing: The proper depiction of an Octothorpe symbol differs slightly than that of the common # symbol, as legally documented by the copyright. Therefore rest assured everyone, that you don’t have to include a copyright symbol whenever you use the # !

  33. # lover -  January 28, 2015 - 7:24 pm

    the # should be called a hash tag #inwiththenewoutwiththeold

    • Withered Bonnie -  February 6, 2015 - 7:49 am

      I still call it number sign, but for the sake of the new age: #nevertobereplaced

    • TherealRNO -  October 16, 2015 - 9:26 pm

      Except #ThoseWhoDon’tLearnFromHistoryAreDoomedToRepeatIt and what’s more, we don’t need Internet jargon making us technologically-dependent and borderline stupid.

      There was life prior to the advent of Internet making life too easy (to the point that we’ll eventually have a genuine Terminator meets Wall-E style situation on our hands in real-life due to sentient artificial intelligence becoming self-aware and deeming the human race unfit for survival) you know, and as incredulous as it may seem to younger generations, but we don’t need to have proper language horribly mangled by their poor grammar due to a reliance on technology that does, in some regards, make people dumber.

      For example, remember when teachers used to ask students to find more credible sources from legitimate books (“Encyclopedia? What’s that?” you younger generations bred on a 24/7 high-speed Internet categorizing everything at your fingertips, yet being too lazy to put forth any real effort or do any work) rather than simply going by word of mouth (as people can be known to fabricate or embellish things to make them seem more grand than what they truly are or were) or more recently, going by what the Internet claims (particularly Wikipedia, which can be edited by anyone with any basic understanding and general use of computers), because we don’t need proper sentence structure replaced with Internet slang lingo.

  34. Paul -  January 7, 2015 - 5:59 pm

    Since my programming days, back in the early 1980′s, i’ve known it as the hash key. Before that I just called it sharp

    • Venkat Raman -  January 24, 2015 - 11:03 pm

      Orthopaedic surgeons frequently use this symbol #, in India , to denote a fracture, ex # of the right Radius

    • Derpybunneh -  April 20, 2015 - 2:01 pm

      C# (see sharp not see hashtag or c pound) FTW

  35. brandon -  January 3, 2015 - 2:49 pm

    the tow side thing

    • brandon -  January 3, 2015 - 2:50 pm

      cool name is in

    • Thambi Thiagarajah -  December 19, 2014 - 10:21 pm

      # is called the “octothorpe”

  36. Raegene -  November 26, 2014 - 10:41 am


    • Raegene -  November 26, 2014 - 10:42 am

      or #TreatmentLife

    • Derpybunneh -  April 20, 2015 - 2:02 pm

      #YOLT (you only live twice)

    • josuha -  June 15, 2015 - 1:15 am

      that means you refuse resuscitation? good

  37. MARTIN BRU -  November 24, 2014 - 8:05 pm

    i need help understading this

  38. thE REal SLiM SHAdy -  November 24, 2014 - 7:56 pm

    this was informative
    thank yo dictionary.com

  39. Ed Lepps -  November 21, 2014 - 6:47 am

    I learned to refer to it as the BARB key symbol; button at right bottom.

  40. WhatWhatintheWhat -  November 15, 2014 - 11:39 am

    This is interesting, and I’m sincerely glad that people are reading about grammar in their free time. It touches my heart, honest.

    ….buuuuuut. I said what what in the butt.

    • mungee -  November 21, 2014 - 9:54 pm

      One of my best friends and I would always say this phrase: )

  41. Rehan Khawaja -  November 13, 2014 - 10:00 pm


    if # is on the left side, it means pound.

    # 1 cake = One pound cake.

    if # is on the right side, it means number.

    number 1 cake.

    best wishes

    • _______ -  January 26, 2015 - 8:24 pm

      isn’t it the other way around? 1# cake, one pound cake, #1 cake, number one cake? Not sure, but it makes more sense…

      • R. Moreno -  February 21, 2015 - 10:57 am

        So much more sense…

        • IKR -  September 15, 2015 - 12:00 pm

          I know it doesn’t make sense but the English language in general isn’t logical, even without symbols. Adding symbols just makes it irreparably illogical.

          Soz Americans IDK y u hate. And IDC that u hate.
          #BIBL (#BUTTON #IN #BOTTOM #LEFT) (How does Right Bottom make sense? word order, guys)
          #NUMBER SYMBOL

      • DEF -  December 5, 2015 - 12:31 pm

        Yes! Much more sense _______-

  42. alex -  November 8, 2014 - 2:13 am

    what is the font of the hashtag??

    • kaylee -  November 13, 2014 - 12:27 pm

      oh really

    • Loco -  November 21, 2014 - 11:46 am

      It’s Arial Italic, size 13!!
      Next question please.

      • Andrew -  November 30, 2014 - 11:08 am

        No no no no, where ever did you get that idea? Everyone knows the hashtag font is Times New Roman, 10 point.

  43. Eggbonk -  October 14, 2014 - 12:54 am

    One half,-does this mean that you may have more than one half? Two halves would be a whole. Surely just ‘a half.’

  44. Speaker of English -  October 6, 2014 - 11:43 am

    It all depends on where you place the octothorpe. #2 means “number 2″ (as in pencil) and 2# means 2 pounds (as in lunch meat order). What these lazy rip-offs should have done is make up their own symbol. I would suggest a combination of H and T for hashtag, with the T running through the middle of the H, much like the International Harvester logo, only without the bottom of the I. The U.S. dollar symbol was similar where the U was laid over the S. Later, the bottom of the U was removed to give us the familiar $ sign.

    • J.T. -  March 25, 2015 - 4:21 pm

      Your example of the $ sign is incorrect. The dollar sign really came from a Spanish colonial coin called “real de ocho”, or “piece of eight”. The coin had two pillars with an S-shaped ribbon wrapped around each printed on it. Later, it was morphed into the dollar sign we know today.

    • TherealRNO -  October 16, 2015 - 9:32 pm

      You mean like the interrobang (mixing together a question [interrogation] mark and exclamation point [bang]), in examples such as:

      “She said…What?!”


  45. yolo1234 -  September 24, 2014 - 7:32 pm

    Hashtag# you suck

  46. bakul kr -  August 8, 2014 - 5:08 am


    • Nipun -  September 13, 2014 - 7:39 pm

      Tell me what means 10# wood?

      • mcfly -  October 8, 2014 - 4:47 pm

        10# wood: means ten pounds of wood or in some areas in the north part of America, it is camp fire wood sold in bundles of ten pounds per bundle give or that what type of wood it is.

  47. […] The # has an involved and, at times, a somewhat unverifiable history. Much like Lord of the Ring’s Gandalf, this symbol goes by many names: pound, sharp, space (for you copy editors) and even the etymologically-challenged octothorpe. […]

  48. Resolute1 -  June 21, 2014 - 3:51 am

    Octoplex would be more precise.

    • dr dale -  July 9, 2014 - 4:03 pm

      A lot of medical / nursing practitioners would immediately think of a “fracture” and also a “number” if they saw the # sign, long before computers came along, and current history taking too… For instance Problem #2: a suspected # left forearm.

    • aj -  July 25, 2014 - 10:25 am

      its a pound sign or a tic-tac-toe board.

      • aj -  July 25, 2014 - 10:27 am

        well it can be used as a number sign.

  49. jacob -  June 6, 2014 - 12:58 pm

    nobody is perfect about that symbol #.

    • Partha -  July 9, 2014 - 2:17 am

      you are absolutely correct

  50. K -  June 3, 2014 - 7:30 am

    I hate hashtags

    • Dante -  July 30, 2014 - 7:28 pm


    • Sara -  September 22, 2014 - 11:28 am

      Oh my gosh, they are so annoying. All of these youngsters running around using ridiculous hashtags and whatnot. I hate opening my phone or laptop up and seeing all of the stupid things they’re putting on their twitters and facebooks.

      • kayben -  October 8, 2014 - 7:12 am

        Work on your sarcasm. You sound like a flouncing tween.

        • flouncing tween -  December 5, 2015 - 12:37 pm


  51. alan -  May 9, 2014 - 12:05 am

    I have been working in Australia for 45 years in the
    Engineering / Construction industry, before all these computer
    jargans came into being.
    Especially “windows” which is something installed in a wall to
    look out of.
    # refered to guage (thickness of metal material.)
    #8 wire = 1/8 th of an inch in diameter. (3.2mm)
    #22 sheet = 1/32nd of an inch (0.8mm)
    The first time I head of Pound = # was phoning an American supplier
    with an automated phone receptioner telling me to use the extention
    number followed by pound.
    I never made contact with that supplier.

    • Cody -  August 31, 2014 - 5:41 am

      Hahaha.. thanks for that windows remark, alan.


      Though I have to refute the jaron and amount of years. Depends on what you’re referring to. I think it also depends on how technical you want to go (debugging, bug, compiler, lexer, scanner all of which should be familiar to programmers and some of which sould be known to most everyone else, too. There’s more examples of course). Then again, as you refer to construction, this is different, but still, computers are a lot older than 45 years and those terms I refer to included. And well, telegraph ? Still though, your windows remark is valid and quite funny too.

      • Ilona -  November 7, 2014 - 10:07 am

        Good grief, Cody!. You pontificate on English grammar, usage, punctuation, etc., and then you write, “There’s more examples of course.” There’s a basic point of grammar children learn in first grade (if not at their mothers’ knees) called subject/verb agreement. So utterly basic! The mind boggles! (Moreover, there should have been a comma before “of course.”)

    • Cody -  August 31, 2014 - 5:43 am

      Hopefully this doesn’t show twice. Anyway, response:

      Hahaha.. thanks for that windows remark, alan.


      Though I have to refute the jargon and amount of years. Depends on what you’re referring to. I think it also depends on how technical you want to go (debugging, bug, compiler, lexer, scanner all of which should be familiar to programmers and some of which sould be known to most everyone else, too. There’s more examples of course). Then again, as you refer to construction, this is different, but still, computers are a lot older than 45 years and those terms I refer to included. And well, telegraph ? Still though, your windows remark is valid and quite funny too.

    • Matt -  April 8, 2015 - 1:10 pm

      Great story! Apparently the sign never made it from Europe to Oz

  52. TalleySueNYC -  May 6, 2014 - 6:16 pm

    ” octothorpe literally means “eight fields.””

    Well, actually, there are NINE fields in an octothorpe–three in each row.

    • Poopiwa -  May 8, 2014 - 7:39 am

      You are wrong you idiot, it means fields of eight,.. Stupid

      • ted -  July 1, 2014 - 7:16 am

        It is eight fields surrounding a central square. This is a cartography symbol

      • _______ -  January 26, 2015 - 8:34 pm

        calm yourself! people are getting so touchy these days…

        • Derpybunneh -  April 20, 2015 - 2:04 pm

          IKR people are offended so easy. LIGHTEN UP Y’ALL PUMPKINS!

          • JBSPuddintane -  September 2, 2015 - 8:20 am

            Let your inner light shine, jack-o-lanterns!

  53. Habib -  April 11, 2014 - 4:27 pm

    Hashtag is merely a term used by those ghat want to seem like they are up on new terminology. Those folks want to seem like they are modern and in the know. It is really a symbol that means pound or number. Do the research and be real. Stop trying to be cool. Cool by the way is another such word. It really means not warm and not cold but closer to cold than warm. People should stop trying to change language and stop trying to be cool.

    • Robert -  April 30, 2014 - 11:04 am

      And stop being so arrogant, it has NEVER been called pound ANYWHERE EXCEPT the US. It’s stupid to call it pound and it’s good to see the US starting to join the rest of the world. It’s a hash, when you use it as a tag it’s a hash tag. Simple, no?

    • gotcha -  October 19, 2014 - 10:05 pm

      I agrede 100% habib

    • patrick -  November 11, 2014 - 12:05 pm

      i think you are right

  54. larry Pearson -  April 1, 2014 - 4:23 am

    # should be called POUND, not hash-tag – I have seen sophisticated, well-dressed celebrities call it “hash tag” not very dignified!!!!

    • Robert -  April 30, 2014 - 11:05 am

      No we aren’t going to rename the hash to pound just because Americans can’t see beyond their boarders…

      • faith -  May 6, 2014 - 8:27 am

        excuse me thats not true :)

        • Poopiwa -  May 8, 2014 - 7:40 am

          It is true stupid…

          • Bella -  May 12, 2014 - 12:34 pm

            And what evidence do you have?

        • Mary -  May 21, 2014 - 8:23 am

          Yes it’s nt true

        • Ben -  November 1, 2014 - 10:40 am

          It is true. In most parts of the world the £ symbol is called the pound sign. # is a hash

          • Alyssa -  December 18, 2014 - 7:20 pm

            I know none of you probably know me but Ben is right, # is a hash

      • Cody -  August 31, 2014 - 5:51 am


        Better way of putting it:

        Look at the humourous (is it a joke ? I’m not sure!) Americans’ (specifically US) version of the world map compared to the rest of the world (all other countries) version of the map. Now then, if you look at it that way, you could just accept it and realise they won’t change, no matter what. So just move along on it. If you really want to go further, there’s always the Australian ‘slang’ septic tank, right ? Think of it this way:
        -ize versus -ise (you know what is correct but they generally only know the former, do they not ?)
        -ou versus o (e.g., colour, color, humour, humor, …)
        kerb versus curb (same thing)
        tyre versus tire (again)

        and so on.

        I admit I’m notorious for seeing typos, spelling errors, and the works, especially if it is after I originally write it (several times, admittedly!) or it is another person’s works, but do you not mean borders ?

      • Frank Casale -  June 19, 2015 - 2:28 pm

        I’m sorry, Robert. That’s ‘borders’. ‘Americans can’t see beyond their ‘borders’.
        Most American landlords can see beyond their ‘boarders’- the tenants who don’t pay!

  55. H -  March 31, 2014 - 9:19 pm

    I’m surprised at how uninformed/misinformative this article is, then I realised it was dictionary.com ? Wow.

    The # is not called a ‘hashtag’ by anyone. It is the hash symbol (or whatever you want to call it), the ‘tag’ is the word that follows it.

    And, ‘In computer code, the # symbol means that everything that follows is only comment, not instructions.’ That really depends on the LANGUAGE you are writing in. ‘Computer code’ is ambiguous, the best assumption you could make from that is assembly code, which doesn’t contain a # at all.

  56. Wes -  March 17, 2014 - 1:52 pm

    Ok if the # is being called a hashtag that is because it is a hash mark to tag the message that is following the # symbol. # used in computer programing is called a hash. Things such as pictures are tagged on Facebook so people can keep track of the persons pictures that has been tagged and all of tagged pictures are easily found.

    With that said the # symbol on twitter is what initiates the tag so #idiots would mean IDIOTS is not the tag it is what has been TAGGED so that it can be inventoried and counted to see how popular you IDIOTS are. So the hash symbol is the tag that is going on the tagged item. In this case its you IDIOTS that’s been tagged.

    I prefer #number or #pound key as said by automated phone services above #hashtag or what some misinformed kid said earlier that they thought it was #star key which if he looked at a phone he would see there is a * which is the star key lol

    • #* -  December 5, 2015 - 12:54 pm


  57. aldrenean -  March 11, 2014 - 10:27 am

    “hashtag has become the favored word for the # symbol.”

    Stop propagating this! “Hashtag” refers to the entire “#yadayada” unit, “hash” is the leading symbol.

    • knarf -  May 27, 2015 - 7:20 am

      You are so right.

      A similar issue is calling an email address an email. An email is the message itself.

  58. thatuglyhaterwhohatesyou -  March 6, 2014 - 10:17 am


  59. Jim -  March 5, 2014 - 1:11 pm

    The # is only used for comments in computer code in some languages. The “C” family of languages, as well as Java, which are the most common languages, use “//” to designate a comment. They also use “/*” and “*/” to enclose comments.

  60. HYO -  March 5, 2014 - 3:30 am

    #’s are used in music to identify keys and their raised notes, stupid people

    • Me -  June 23, 2014 - 3:18 pm

      The sharp sign is a different sign. They just look similar

    • DKW -  December 23, 2014 - 4:50 pm

      Before calling everyone stupid, you might look at a piece of sheet music. A sharp is sloped in the other direction.

  61. t(* -  March 4, 2014 - 6:25 pm


    • aj -  July 25, 2014 - 10:29 am

      its not a hashtag.

  62. Parker Orfield -  February 28, 2014 - 6:31 pm

    Hash and eggs # tag you are it! ( :

    • larkin -  November 4, 2014 - 9:07 am

      hahaha :)

  63. Vinny -  February 14, 2014 - 6:56 pm

    It’s a pound sign. Meaning a measurement of weight. If it was a hashtag it would be a tag attached to a ball of hash.

  64. ken klemp -  February 14, 2014 - 7:00 am

    The dollar sign came from U S, the U with a S overlay, then we got lazy and used two lines instead of a U.

    • J.T. -  March 25, 2015 - 4:18 pm

      This is incorrect. The dollar sign really came from a Spanish colonial coin called “real de ocho”, or “piece of eight”. The coin had two pillars with an S-shaped ribbon wrapped around each printed on it. Later, it was morphed into the dollar sign we know today.

  65. Dean -  February 13, 2014 - 9:33 pm


  66. Bazinga Person -  February 13, 2014 - 1:53 pm


  67. adsf -  February 7, 2014 - 2:57 pm

    interesting read. I’m used to calling it hash, crunch, or shebang (in the case where you have #!).


  68. Sweg -  January 30, 2014 - 8:42 am

    It’s not hashtag, those darn teens and their social sites believe it’s hashtag, it means number!!! I AM NUMBER ONE (#1)!

  69. DeAN -  January 27, 2014 - 2:19 pm

    Wouldnt it technically be called a Hash if #+tag= hashtag? because the word is the tag and the # is the hash! :)

  70. jarod -  January 27, 2014 - 9:13 am


    • Facepalm -  December 5, 2015 - 12:59 pm

      This has only been made as a TAG symbol over the last few years. If you don’t know the history of it, or care to LEARN about it, maybe YOU should “Get Out”!

  71. Robert -  January 5, 2014 - 5:16 pm

    It has never been “universally known” as a pound sign unless your universe stops at the US borders. It’s a hash in universally (except the US and Canada (where it’s a number sign)), and a pound sign locally in the US.

    • xb -  May 25, 2015 - 11:41 am

      Robert, sorry bud but you’re quite wrong. Stop trying to propagate you’re silly vendetta against Americans.
      The # sign, read POUND sign, is known in many more countries than the US as, the POUND sign.
      I know this because I’ve worked and traveled to over 40 different countries around the world, and yes they ALL refer to this sign as the POUND sign.
      Good try though mate….carry on.

  72. Seth -  December 23, 2013 - 2:00 pm

    The hashtag isn’t the # character.

    The hashtag is the word followed by the # character.

    Since the # character is also called a hash, the word after the character is the tag.

    This shows the representation of the average Twitter user’s knowledge. You seriously can’t tell the difference between the # and the word after it? Are you just too lazy to call it by its proper name?

    Either way it’s still sad.

  73. cow -  December 21, 2013 - 4:47 pm


  74. Don -  December 19, 2013 - 9:11 pm

    When I type, #1, it means number 1, not hashtag 1.
    A lot of liberties have been taken with the English language, including special characters in the alphabet. I guess I’m just getting OLD!

  75. too lazy to kneel -  December 12, 2013 - 3:34 pm

    don’t judge me! :) lol

  76. too lazy to kneel -  December 12, 2013 - 3:27 pm


  77. too lazy to kneel -  December 12, 2013 - 3:27 pm

    why is this not submitting!!!!! >:(

  78. too lazy to kneel -  December 12, 2013 - 3:26 pm


  79. too lazy to kneel -  December 12, 2013 - 3:25 pm


  80. 777 -  December 9, 2013 - 8:01 pm

    here again dictionary people,i am here to say,it doesnt say nothing aboutz what modern day hashtag means…you might as well dictionary.com

    oh and like before,i forgot what my very first post was(ima be famous on dictionary.com!!!!!!!!)i used a different name,i said look at the dates on a halloween forum,cuz they went back to 2009 this is rather a much newer forum,but id say dictionary.com always uses old forums and rarely makes new ones they just re-use! oh and i dont believe in using words right or typing right online

  81. wolf tamer and tree puncher -  December 9, 2013 - 2:19 am

    I like your PSM. Maybe I’ll start using it.

    Wow. What’s your source?

  82. wolf tamer and tree puncher -  December 9, 2013 - 2:15 am

    It used to be called a star on telephones. Like, the automatic voice would say, “To do blah blah blah, please press star.” I had no idea what they were talking about. It drove me crazy until my mom explained it. Does # even look like a star to you?

    Anyway, I still don’t know what you do with a hashtag. (They are called hashtags now. If you want to be all up-to-date and stuff.) Do you search a topic on Twitter with # in front of it? That’s what it seems like to me. But hashtags are so ubiquitous, I don’t really know. A kid on my brother’s Little League baseball team always wears this shirt that says “#notbothered.”

    If you are reading this and watch X Factor, please, please vote for Jeff Gutt! We’re down to the Final 6, and I really want him to win! If you don’t like Jeff Gutt, you don’t have to vote for him.

    If you’re reading this and you play WolfQuest, watch (or even make) WolfQuest videos, or at least have heard of WolfQuest, please say so in your comment. I’m looking for other WolfQuesters. Thanks.

    • JayH -  October 20, 2014 - 5:31 pm

      Don’t take it personally, kid, but stick to minecraft, not internet boards. “Star” (*) is a completely different sign from what is called “pound” (#) when dealing with U.S. phones. They are both there—look more carefully next time.

  83. Ken Hobbs -  November 30, 2013 - 1:12 pm

    In the UK it’s been known as the hash sign as far back as i can remember. At least for 30 years or so everyone I know has called it the hash sign. We’re also aware Americans call it the pound sign but I had no idea why, until now. :)

  84. kik -  November 25, 2013 - 1:17 am

    @arima : and what is “£” ?

    I would rather use “pound sign” than “octothrope”, tough. The later is just too ugly, and haven’t that historical legitimacy.

    We could use “pound sign (#)” and “pound character (£)”, but it would still be a convention and doesn’t carry any meaningful difference.

  85. Arima Trinidad -  November 21, 2013 - 11:52 pm


    • Mike -  February 22, 2015 - 2:13 am

      Umm.. Universally?
      Not quite, I’m afraid – showing a bit of ignorance there :)
      It would only ever be called the pound sign by US English speakers – about 330 million out of the 7,250 million people on the planet, or less than 5%.
      Wikipedia would say that “outside of North America the symbol is called hash and the corresponding telephone key is called the “hash key”, and the term “pound sign” usually describes the British currency symbol “£”. But that too would only be english speakers calling it hash.
      Universally means universally not just inside one particular country of less than 5% of the planet :)

  86. Akira -  November 21, 2013 - 9:11 am

    Uh…I thought it was called a hashtag…

  87. Kasara Sinclaire -  November 19, 2013 - 3:10 pm

    could the Word of the Day.com please use words that are relevant today, not words that were relevant with writers in the 18th century. I delete most words that come my way, like, I’m never gonna use that word EVER!

  88. dakota -  October 14, 2013 - 7:18 pm

    it’s for instagram, duh

  89. -_- -  October 3, 2013 - 5:51 pm


  90. #pompous hash -  September 28, 2013 - 9:37 pm

    I just think “hashtag” sounds very douchy and hope people would stop calling it that. If the y want to call it that in the twitter environment, even though I don’t like it I guess I can handle it, but PLEASE do not use the term “hash tag” anywhere else. It sounds super douchy, I feel like I need a shower just writing about it here. I’ve always known it as a pound sign but can accept sharp and number. I feel like whereever or with whom ever startedwanted to be douchy and re name or re introduce it as a hashtag to make themselves feel like they’re “smarter” than all of us dummies. They would have been better off popularizing the sqiggly line “~” and called it a semi-mouch or something like that.

    Ps the”!” Is an exclamation mark. Grade 1 grammer and punctuation class would have taught you that.

    • Sam G -  March 31, 2015 - 3:51 pm

      The “sqiggly line” (spelled SQUIGLY) that you are speaking about it called a TILDE ~~~~~

  91. Rob Knight -  September 18, 2013 - 4:40 am

    # is not hash it’s “hatch”. Tally-men throughout the ages when loading or discharging ships have written on their tally sheets #1 #2 etc. referring to the hatch number which is being loaded or discharged at the time.
    The vertical and horizontal lines strokes in # refer to the fore and aft and athwart-ship beams that support the wooden hatch covers of the hold. Duh!!!
    It will stay hash though won’t it!! Grrr!!

  92. David -  September 16, 2013 - 6:08 pm

    Never knew that LOL

  93. A.P. Ness -  September 10, 2013 - 8:16 am

    Most Americans never heard the term “hashtag” until recently. My hope is that it soon will be heard no more, or as rarely as possible.

  94. -- Anonymous -  September 6, 2013 - 10:54 am


  95. jim -  September 5, 2013 - 7:02 pm

    never heard it called hashtag before, just hash or hash sign, but I’m seem to be only one who knows its origin
    used for years for noughts and crosses then stolen by phone company

  96. Grant -  August 27, 2013 - 2:45 pm

    I don’t think anyone refers to ‘#’ as “hashtag”. Hashtag is the entire ‘#somethingelse’.

  97. Natalie -  August 8, 2013 - 9:49 am

    To codemonkey: The programming language Python uses # for comments.

  98. Gumby2104 -  July 29, 2013 - 8:42 am

    “Ryan” gets the prize: “Shift 3″

  99. Andrew -  July 17, 2013 - 12:08 am

    On the drawings of the reinforced concrete structures # means the diameter of the rebars (especially the ribbed ones) instead of “o with a stroke” Ø which is a standard diameter mark.

    If someone ask me, I found the # mark especially useful in my personal timetable, serving as a for “postscript comment”, for example:
    - call to Agness / ask about the hangings colour # bright yellow
    - visit John at 2 pm # failed – out of office till Friday
    - buy tickets # done

  100. Amy -  July 16, 2013 - 11:30 am

    I’m an editor, and as a copyediting symbol, the # means “space” (e.g., add a space, delete a space, etc.)

  101. Alexandria -  July 15, 2013 - 11:35 am

    #OldPeopleJustDontGetIt #Gtfo #RealSpit

  102. Bob McBob -  July 10, 2013 - 5:19 pm


  103. Norgloom -  July 7, 2013 - 9:52 pm

    I like traintrack. It’s a visual thing.

  104. Did Facebook Really Need Hashtags? » | -  July 1, 2013 - 4:52 am

    [...] Congratulations, hash symbol. You’ve come a long, long way. Remember when we used to call you a pound sign or a number sign? Remember when people used to confuse you with the musical symbol for sharp? Remember when Bell Labs technicians gave you the made-up name “octothorpe“? [...]

  105. Yepi Games -  June 26, 2013 - 12:55 am

    What’s Going down i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve discovered It absolutely helpful and it has helped
    me out loads. I’m hoping to contribute & assist different users like its helped me. Good job.

  106. Yepi -  June 25, 2013 - 6:36 pm

    Great site you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew
    of any community forums that cover the same topics discussed here?
    I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get feed-back from other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Appreciate it!

  107. Roland -  June 21, 2013 - 6:20 pm

    I think we should call it the TTT symbol. It would stand for “Tic Tac Toe”.

    • Annie -  February 5, 2015 - 10:03 am


  108. Yepi 6 -  June 20, 2013 - 8:08 am

    I rarely leave comments, but after looking at a bunch of
    remarks here What should you call the # symbol? | The Hot Word | Hot & Trending Words Daily Blog at Dictionary.
    com. I actually do have a couple of questions for you if you tend not
    to mind. Could it be only me or does it seem like some of
    these responses appear like they are written by brain dead
    people? :-P And, if you are writing at other social sites, I’d like to follow anything fresh you have to post. Would you post a list of every one of your social community sites like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

  109. Yepi 3 -  June 20, 2013 - 7:41 am

    I want to to thank you for this great read!! I absolutely enjoyed every bit of
    it. I’ve got you bookmarked to look at new things you post…

  110. [...] Congratulations, hash symbol. You’ve come a long, long way. Remember when we used to call you a pound sign or a number sign? Remember when people used to confuse you with the musical symbol for sharp? Remember when Bell Labs technicians gave you the made-up name “octothorpe“? [...]

  111. [...] Congratulations, hash symbol. You’ve come a long, long way. Remember when we used to call you a pound sign or a number sign? Remember when people used to confuse you with the musical symbol for sharp? Remember when Bell Labs technicians gave you the made-up name “octothorpe“? [...]

  112. Israel -  June 1, 2013 - 1:34 am

    Hashtags hv got intertwined with lives that ts really hard to look for its meaning and origins

  113. Israel -  June 1, 2013 - 1:31 am

    Hashtag is now been a universal phenomenon happening with every Tweet or any other message happening over the netcast channels.True people have paid very little attention about the origins and the current application,however good to know the background of the symbol.

  114. trick photography book review -  May 2, 2013 - 4:55 pm

    I all the time used to study paragraph in news papers but now as I am a user of web therefore from now I am using net
    for articles or reviews, thanks to web.

  115. Yepi -  April 29, 2013 - 8:38 am

    Hey! I realize this is somewhat off-topic however I had to ask.
    Does running a well-established website like yours require a large amount of work?
    I’m brand new to blogging but I do write in my journal everyday. I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my personal experience and thoughts online.
    Please let me know if you have any ideas or tips for brand new aspiring bloggers.
    Appreciate it!

  116. Pound -  April 24, 2013 - 4:56 pm

    apostrophe ( ’ ‘ )
    brackets ( [ ], ( ), { }, ⟨ ⟩ )
    colon ( : )
    comma ( , ، 、 )
    dash ( ‒, –, —, ― )
    ellipsis ( …, …, . . . )
    exclamation mark ( ! )
    full stop/period ( . )
    guillemets ( « » )
    hyphen ( ‐ )
    hyphen-minus ( – )
    question mark ( ? )
    quotation marks ( ‘ ’, “ ”, ‘ ‘, ” ” )
    semicolon ( ; )
    slash/stroke/solidus ( /, ⁄ )
    Word dividers
    interpunct ( · )
    space ( ) ( ) ( )
    General typography
    ampersand ( & )
    asterisk ( * )
    at sign ( @ )
    backslash ( \ )
    bullet ( • )
    caret ( ^ )
    dagger ( †, ‡ )
    degree ( ° )
    ditto mark ( 〃 )
    inverted exclamation mark ( ¡ )
    inverted question mark ( ¿ )
    number sign/pound/hash ( # )
    numero sign ( № )
    obelus ( ÷ )
    ordinal indicator ( º, ª )
    percent, per mil ( %, ‰ )
    basis point ( ‱ )
    pilcrow ( ¶ )
    prime ( ′, ″, ‴ )
    section sign ( § )
    tilde ( ~ )
    underscore/understrike ( _ )
    vertical bar/broken bar/pipe ( ¦, | )
    Intellectual property
    copyright symbol ( © )
    registered trademark ( ® )
    service mark ( ℠ )
    sound recording copyright ( ℗ )
    trademark ( ™ )
    currency (generic) ( ¤ )
    currency (specific)
    ( ₳ ฿ ₵ ¢ ₡ ₢ ₠ $ ₫ ৳ ₯ € ƒ ₣ ₲ ₴ ₭ ₺ ℳ ₥ ₦ ₧ ₱ ₰ £ ₹ ₨ ₪ ₸ ₮ ₩ ¥ ៛ )
    Uncommon typography
    asterism ( ⁂ )
    index/fist ( ☞ )
    interrobang ( ‽ )
    irony punctuation ( ؟ )
    lozenge ( ◊ )
    reference mark ( ※ )
    tie ( ⁀ )

    • larkin -  November 4, 2014 - 9:10 am

      zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz :(

  117. Pound -  April 24, 2013 - 4:51 pm

    Number sign

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Not to be confused with the Chinese character 井 (well-field system), the sharp sign (♯), the viewdata square (⌗), or the numero sign (№).

    Number sign is a name for the symbol #, which is used for a variety of purposes, including the designation of a number (for example, “#1″ stands for “number one”). The symbol is defined in Unicode as U+0023 # number sign (HTML: # as in ASCII).

    In Commonwealth English, the symbol is usually called the hash and the corresponding telephone key is called the hash key. In American English, the symbol is usually called the pound sign (outside the US, this term often describes instead the British currency symbol “£”) and the telephone key is called the pound key.[1] In Canadian English, this key is most frequently called the pound key, in reference to telephone buttons,[citation needed] but in technology is always referred to as hash.

    It is asserted[by whom?] sometimes that in many parts of the world, including most of the Commonwealth nations, Russia, and most of Europe, number sign refers to the numero sign (№). But this is not true.[citation needed]

    The symbol is easily confused with the musical symbol called sharp (♯). In both symbols, there are two pairs of parallel lines. The key difference is that the number sign has true horizontal strokes while the sharp sign has two slanted parallel lines which must rise from left to right, in order to avoid being confused with the musical staff lines. Both signs may have true vertical lines; however, they are compulsory in the sharp sign, but optional in the number sign (#) depending on typeface or handwriting style.

    Origin and usage and naming conventions in North America

    Mainstream use in the US is as follows: when it precedes a number, it is read as “number”, as in “a #2 pencil” (spoken aloud as: “a number-two pencil”). A theory claims that back in early 1900, the Teletype Corporation was the first to use # to mean “number”.[2]

    Historically, the pound name derives from a series of abbreviations for pound, the unit of weight. At first “lb.” was used; however, printers later designed a font containing a special symbol of an “lb” with a line through the verticals so that the lowercase letter “l” would not be mistaken for the numeral “1″. Unicode character U+2114 ℔ l b bar symbol (HTML: ℔) is a cursive development of this symbol. Ultimately, the symbol was reduced for clarity as an overlay of two horizontal strokes “=” across two forward-slash-like strokes “//”.[1][verification needed] Keith Gordon Irwin, in The Romance of Writing, p. 125, says “The Italian libbra (from the old Latin word libra, ‘balance’) represented a weight almost exactly equal to the avoirdupois pound of England. The Italian abbreviation of lb with a line drawn across the letters [℔] was used for both weights.[2]

    In Canada the symbol is commonly called the number sign. Major telephone-equipment manufacturers, such as Nortel, have an option in their programming to denote Canadian English, which in turn instructs the system to say “number sign” to callers instead of “pound sign”.

  118. Ebi -  April 20, 2013 - 4:49 am

    The symbol is called hash, not hashtag. Hashtag refers to tags on posts like described and hashtags is called hashtags because they are tags and the hash symbol is used to indicate that it is a tag.

  119. Ron -  April 20, 2013 - 3:03 am

    in romanian – diez :)

  120. roger -  April 11, 2013 - 6:43 pm

    This # in origin, is called a “clojure”.

  121. The Hashtag is Invading -  March 24, 2013 - 5:49 pm

    [...] has a unique history in the name “octothorpe.”  It seems that Bell Laboratories’ scientists made up the name for [...]

  122. gelana -  January 6, 2013 - 8:16 pm

    “octothorpe” literally means “eight fields.”…
    # has eight points and nine fields, if you care to count.

  123. joanna -  January 3, 2013 - 4:04 am

    I’ve never heard it being called ‘pound sign’ or ‘number sign’ here in the UK. Hashtag has always been the name for it.

    Octothorpe doesn’t really sound right…

  124. mishasibirsk -  December 25, 2012 - 9:46 am

    “telephone keypads”… also, remote controls.

  125. mishasibirsk -  December 25, 2012 - 9:44 am

    I only recently discovered, reading Chinese for Dummies, that Canadusans call it a pound sign, although I spent two years (forty ago) at a school run by an order of freres largely of that provenance. (I think I have a repressed memory of this term trying to force its way into my consciousness.) Along with others here from my parts of the world, I recall it as a key with a meaning “ordinal number,” but not really a name that anyone used. I vaguely recall it rising from the slime, as “hash,” together with telephone keypads – before mobiles – especially in connection with automated answering systems and internal company phone arrays…a formidable team together “star.”

    BTW, some people here are referring to “programmers”… just programmers, not computer programmers. I had been telling the Russians that “programmist” doesn’t quite correspond to “programmer,” as there are programmers who programme other things than computers; better to use the full title. Perhaps I should stop insisting on that?

  126. W.J.R. Haly -  December 22, 2012 - 9:04 am

    Re “hashtag”…
    Has anyone considered the “hash” portion to be a mutation/molestation of “hatch”, as when one does “cross-hatch(ing)” in art?
    Used to indicate shading, one makes a series of rapid, parallel lines first vertically, then horizontally. Depending on the density of the cross-hatching, you can simulate darker or lighter shading/shadowing.
    Isolate just a small area of cross hatching, say two lines vertically and two lines horizontally at their intersections, and you have something that forms the classic octothorpe… a “hatch” mark looking suspiciously like a “hash” tag.
    Yes, the “octo” represents “eight”, but that “fields” thing for “thorpe” (as to referencing the symbol) definitely cannot work, because the symbol divides into NINE parts. We’d be calling it a “nonathorpe” or “nonothorpe” if THAT was the defining criteria.
    And, PS to Dictionary.com, in your paragraph about the symbol, you typed “pound sigh” at one point, instead of “pound sign”… with an “n” there on the end, instead of your “h”.
    The visuals both were mildly disturbing and bizarrely hilarious, simultaneously. Your proofreader gets a “C-minus” for letting THAT one by.

    • JayH -  October 20, 2014 - 5:38 pm

      I am embarrassed to admit I hadn’t thought of that until reading your post. Thank you for pointing that out! “Hatch,” indeed—I rather think I prefer that.

  127. 2332 -  December 21, 2012 - 4:50 pm

    it could always be a sharp sign for music people, but for whatever works for someone, that’s what they will use. Pound, number sign, hash, sharp, hashtag, whatever. I guess since we discussed so much we’ll all use all of them.

  128. Rlequino -  November 15, 2012 - 2:08 pm

    In The Netherlands the # was called “hekje”, which is “gate” or “fence” in English, so it had a descriptive name. It’s now quickly changing to hash tag, as the Dutch don’t care too much about their own language.

  129. brian -  October 13, 2012 - 5:23 pm

    wow i never knew there was a name for the sharp, number, pound sign. if dictionary.com could explain the % then id be very happy

    • TherealRNO -  October 17, 2015 - 12:21 am

      % = Percent sign

      # = Number sign (e.g. #2, as in, a number 2 pencil), Pound sign (North America only), and Hash symbol (UK)

      #[word] = Hashtag (Hash symbol + tag word) for Social Media

  130. Ryan -  October 13, 2012 - 1:47 am

    I call it “Shift 3.”

    • larkin -  November 4, 2014 - 9:11 am


  131. jonathan -  September 18, 2012 - 9:46 am

    why does people say that when you mad at someone that means you like them .

  132. Olivia -  August 12, 2012 - 5:22 pm

    the @ symbol. it drives me crazy why the heck theres a cirle they cant they just like overlap the a and t?!?!?!? seriously!!!!!!!!

    thank u dictionary peeps, i now feel this (this: #) much smarter!

  133. yayRayShell -  August 6, 2012 - 11:23 am

    Please explain the percent sign. It looks like a 0 over a 0. >%

  134. Dawna -  July 29, 2012 - 10:00 pm

    This I did not know!

  135. Ida -  July 28, 2012 - 6:21 am

    @Joe Liuzzi Facebook doesn’t use hashtags cause they are behind in technology! haha jk

  136. James -  July 23, 2012 - 11:50 pm

    “Since the ascent of social media, hashtag has become the favored word for the # symbol.” – Actually, the hashtag refers to the /whole/ tag – the hash sign plus the keyword. No one actually calls ‘#’ a hashtag.

    “Musicians recognize # as the sharp symbol, denoting a note one half step higher.” – The sharp symbol is often confused with the hash sign, but actually it is a different (though similar) character altogether. The sharp sign has slanted horizontal lines and perfectly vertical lines.

    “In computer code, the # symbol means that everything that follows is only comment, not instructions.” – In some languages, yes. In others, however, and in assembly language, the # represents that what follows is to be taken as a number, and not as a variable or memory location.

  137. Interesting -  July 23, 2012 - 10:00 am

    Never new the # had a name. I’ve always just thought of it as the number sign or pound. “Octothorpe” that an awesome word. I need to remember that from now on.

  138. Ezekiel Rage -  July 22, 2012 - 12:02 pm

    I prefer to call it “Sharp,” as in C#, the object-oriented programming language.

  139. h.a. -  July 15, 2012 - 9:48 pm

    People keep repeating the comments.(not word for word)

    • JayH -  October 20, 2014 - 5:40 pm

      Yes, please read before you post, and actually reply to the comment you are commenting on rather than posting at the top! Basic Internet board etiquette, folks. ;)

  140. Random fact: #sausage #hotdog « heyslowdown -  July 11, 2012 - 6:00 am

    [...] also called it number sign, pound sign, etc. well, enlighten yourself while reading it more here at dictionary’s hot word Rate this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this. [...]

  141. Rivka -  July 11, 2012 - 5:51 am

    if memory serves, # is also used to denote a comment in IBM Assembly language.

  142. Neil660 -  July 10, 2012 - 6:50 am

    Ha! I see Dictionary.com is still hashing out last month’s Hot Word!! Come on guys! Change the channel!!!

  143. andy -  July 9, 2012 - 11:33 pm

    Hmmm. Hash.

  144. Joe -  July 9, 2012 - 11:18 am

    What’s going on dictionary.com? Did you fire all your writers? Let’s get something new written and out there. This # story wasn’t interesting to begin with.

  145. Alice -  July 9, 2012 - 8:36 am

    I’d like to see an article discussing the asterisk (*), if it hasn’t already been done. That’s a very common symbol that many people don’t know the name of.

    If the suggestion doesn’t have to be a symbol then it could also be interesting to write about the uvula, since most people I know simply call it “the dangly thing in the back of your throat.”

    “A lot” could also be a good one, since it’s commonly misspelled as “alot”.

  146. Bridget -  July 9, 2012 - 7:51 am

    This is all fascinating. Who finds these answers and where? Intriguing!

  147. Bill Davis -  July 8, 2012 - 2:05 am

    What you call it would depend upon the context:

    In America, at least…
    Keyboard (or before numbers): number sign
    Phone pad: pound sign
    Music: sharp
    …on and on

    On Twitter, it has become known as a hashtag, when used as a tag for search terms in Tweets. This is a common and growing usage. While Facebook does not formally use hashtags, people are starting to use them in comments and status updates, as a spillover from Twitter. Young people are even SAYING “hashtag” before a word in the latest fad (not so much slang as the blurring of forms of communication, just as when we say “period” or make “double quote marks” in the air with our fingers when talking.)

  148. Joe -  July 7, 2012 - 7:37 am

    It’s about time for a new article, don’t ya think? Enough ready with this, who cares?

  149. Mike -  July 5, 2012 - 2:58 pm

    Unless the guys at Bell Labs actually invented the symbol itself, the fact that they decided to call it an “octothorpe” is about as meaningful as if I decided to call it a “whackadoo”.

    @codemonkey – the ‘#’ symbol is commonly used to designate a comment in scripting languages like Perl.

    @oleg – The use of “//” or “/* … */” for comments is common to many computer languages, but not universal.

    @hearaoi – Seems likely that “ponsin” was a case of “pound sign” getting mangled up at some point by someone talking with their mouth full or something.

    @Ian Mallet – What does the “(evil)” remark in your post mean?

    @Jack London – the ‘#’ character is not the same thing as a sharp symbol from musical notation, although they are indeed very similar.

  150. David JM -  July 5, 2012 - 6:47 am

    Some transatlantic misunderstandings here!

    As others point out, lb. was the measure of weight used in the UK, pronounced “pound”, and £ is the symbol for the unit of UK currency pronounced “pound”. £ is a stylised letter L with the line used to indicate an abbreviation. The symbol itself is the “pound sign”. To distinguish between weight and money, one would say “pound weight” or “pound sterling”.

    Apparently a pound weight was the weight of one pound of silver. The abbreviation is from Latin libra pondo, (pound weight) hence lb.

    “Hash” and “number” for the # sign are new to English English, as far as I know, and my knowledge of it before about five years ago was that it was the notation for “sharp” in music. “Crosshatch” is the only word I knew for the symbol when not in a music context.

    “Octothorpe” is therefore an invented word for something for which words already exist – forget it, I say!

    As others note, the conflation of # and £ probably results from US keyboards lacking the £; my UK keyboard has the $, though.

  151. Rarin2go -  July 4, 2012 - 1:22 am

    There are eight fields that surround the farm house, barns and other support convenient and adjacent to each field. Now, that does make sense, don’t you think?

  152. David -  July 3, 2012 - 8:41 am

    It’s called splat where I come from.

    • TherealRNO -  October 17, 2015 - 12:26 am

      You mean, it’s named after Nickelodeon’s classic logo, which has now become the new name for the 90′s Are All That, because The Splat will eventually crossover into adding cancelled 00′s programming also?

  153. Hreyes -  July 1, 2012 - 9:13 pm

    If octothorpe refers to the number of fields, than it should be called nonothorpe, as there are nine fields, with eight points.

  154. Prestell -  July 1, 2012 - 2:38 pm

    In Brazil, we call it “little fence” (cerquinha).
    It reminds curral.

  155. Marc -  July 1, 2012 - 7:44 am

    Besides, isn’t is a nonothorpe? I count 9 fields.

  156. Chuck -  July 1, 2012 - 7:43 am

    On the more general subject of symbols, I’ve been irritated at modern computer & sign folk for their insistence that ‘icons are intuitive and thu easier.’ For starters, this would imply that pictographic languages would be somehow ‘less confusing’ (as each icon would have only one meaning.)

    In fact, pictographic based languages such as ancient Egyption, Chinese, Japanese, etc. are much more difficult and much less precise than any of the alphabet/word based languages (though they too often have multiple meanings, there are usually far fewer per word than per icon.)

    For those of us with poor eyesight, icons are no major improvement over words, as they are often harder to identify. And few of them are ‘intuitive’ until explained. (e.g. ‘ I/0′ used to label ‘on/off’ switches was unfamiliar to me the first time I ran across the big red switch labeled with it on the side of a computer…I flipped it to see what it did — yes, I found out as I shut down the company’s computer system, thankfully it was hours before the work day started :)

    Words are constantly created and reassigned new or additional meanings, as their function is to provide a short-hand to encapsulate ideas. English will steal, shorten, mangle or otherwise alter any word or phrase from any language to define a thought.

    German tends strongly to create new words from sentences and phrases by removing spaces between the words–but usually leaving the words intact, leading to extremely long words, which aren’t a great deal of help in encapsulating the thought.

    It can be very difficult to think truly novel thoughts in iconographic languages–and even harder to pass them on to others.

    Before computers came along, a lot of the symbols such as #, ! & such had no real need for individual names–you used them in context, and their meanings were clear, since you seldom talked about them outside of a specific reference, and usually they were written symbols representing a word, it wasn’t a problem.

    But it becomes a problem when trying to dictate or explain by voice alone. ‘Exclamation point’ is fine when they’re infrequent, but becomes cumbersome when used very frequently. ‘Bang’ is shorter, and carries similar connotations. The same applies to other symbols named as two words , the second being ‘sign’ or ‘symbol.’

    One reason that the use of such symbols exploded with computerization is that memory was once extremely expensive (not that long ago!) When I started working with computers in the early 1970′s, every single byte was expensive, and coding concentrated heavily upon using as little memory as possible. memory was also physically large. In 1977 I ran across an old drum memory unit in a surplus store in Tucson. This unit store 1k bits and consisted of a 3′ diameter 6′ long solid aluminum cylinder.

    As we were building micro-computers at that time, $1,000 per kbits was the going rate (~$5,000 per in current dollars.) (That’s $40,000/kbyte or $40,000,000 per megabyte or $40,000,000,000 per GB.)

    Since each byte could represent 2^8 different symbol, and the alphabet & numbers only used <2^7 there were a lot of extra unused binaries available but not defined.

    Similar constraints have influenced the widespread use of symbols in txting, chats, emails (as has the fact that few programmers were good typists, and typing on a 2"x3" keyboard can be irritating for fingers 3/8"x3/8" at the tip, and the fact that spelling properly isn't a widespread skill — hey, 'proper' spelling is only a couple hundred years old!

    To look at the difficulties of icons, look at the plaques sent with the Voyager space probes…carefully designed to be 'universally' readable, much of the plaque is indecipherable to the average person.

    E=MC^2 is shorthand for a very large and complex idea, which would be extremely cumbersome without the short condensation.

    The common keyboard symbols ~`@#$%^&*()_-+={}[]|\:;"'?/ were redefined largely because they were on the keyboards of normal typewriters–mostly a matter of availability.

    There are thousands of shorthand symbols used in different fields, often a symbol will be ‘borrowed’ from another field and redefined because it is easier than creating and introducing a new symbol…this is true of words too, as a word is also a symbol.

    Icons and words both can have specific meanings, and both can be modified to alter the meanings, but in all cases the meanings are not intuitive and need to be learned within a culture. And in both the context is very important.

    The amazing thing is that we can communicate complex thought at all!

    • gotcha -  October 19, 2014 - 11:24 pm

      Thank you Chuck. I like your thinking and communication!

  157. ruby -  July 1, 2012 - 4:05 am

    I’ve often wondered why the US call it a pound sign when the pound sign is £. But now I understand. it is pound weight not pound currency :-)

  158. Gen -  July 1, 2012 - 12:59 am

    Its been hash as long as the world’s been round, and doesn’t need its name changed.

    And at the programmers here, shame on you! PHP, Perl, Bash, C shell and Ruby all used hash to comment out a line to start with, and hash is listed as the line commenter in their standard.

  159. r. wilson -  June 29, 2012 - 12:30 pm

    This is only a test.

  160. Simon -  June 28, 2012 - 2:02 am

    as far as I can remember been called “hash” in the UK, without any ties to inferior culinary dishes! The UK currency symbol, the pound “£” sign, is also derived from the Latin for pound (in weight) Libra, which was represented with a capital L in the roman empire. I’ve never heard it called the number sign in the UK, but is used for shorthand for the word “number”, ie #1 “number 1″

  161. supamichi -  June 27, 2012 - 4:52 pm

    I’ve always heard it referred to as the pound, be it on a tele-service line or just word of mouth. Maybe that’s just a Canadian thing.

    @Eyewitness: I was a little bit put off by your shallow attempt at causing a digression among this blog. Notwithstanding that abhorrent display of narcissistic pontification, as no one has remarked on (nor probably even considered) your PSM (should be “Pompous-Social-Meandering”, or prehaps “Please-Shoot-Me” as “IHNBTD- I Have Nothing Better To Do”), I am thoroughly assuaged by the fact that you have been otherwise ignored. Damn me for succumbing to your trollish ways…

  162. Eyewitness -  June 27, 2012 - 4:47 pm

    Of course, I think all of you are brilliant. I must say I am taken with the coinages “polytrope” and “misanthrope” [sic. misanthorpe, misantrope] but you inspire me: In honor of Mrs. Malaprop and gentrification of the digital age in general, perhaps we could settle on “malatrope” or “malathorpe” or even “Malaproctoprop.” Best wishes to all.

  163. Ray -  June 27, 2012 - 1:15 pm

    Curiouser and curiouser, Nobody suggested, “hashmark,” (cf we have questionmarks and exclamationmarks…).

    • TherealRNO -  October 17, 2015 - 12:41 am

      The #, though, clearly has multiple uses (as a numerical shorthand, as the pound sign for North Americans, as the hash symbol for the UK, and now, thanks to Twitter, the hashtag).

  164. Ray -  June 27, 2012 - 1:08 pm

    || All the browsers, MSIE 9, Firefox, are confused by the homepage
    || here: The sockdologer-popup insists on popping-up contiguously…
    || I had to go through a hotword link to get a clean webpage.

  165. william -  June 27, 2012 - 12:53 pm

    silence fools..its clearly the start of a game of ‘naughts and crosses’…..tut …. (shakes head)

  166. Whats a name? -  June 27, 2012 - 11:55 am

    That is something everyone should know.

  167. JackLondon -  June 27, 2012 - 11:50 am

    The guys at Bell did not invent this sign # ???? Hello ?! It is used in music to mark a sharp note… I guess that predates the fact that some guy decided to use it on a phone ?!!

    • TherealRNO -  October 17, 2015 - 12:43 am

      The Sharp angles to the left, whereas the # is straight. Similar, but different.

  168. yahoo -  June 27, 2012 - 11:34 am

    does any body know Ian Mallet just said???????

  169. yahoo -  June 27, 2012 - 11:32 am

    oooooooooooooooooooooooooo so that iz what that means

  170. yahoo -  June 27, 2012 - 11:31 am

    ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo so thats what that means!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  171. yahoo -  June 27, 2012 - 11:30 am

    does any body know what is up with all these stupid senseless comments i mean come on guys think of some different other than lolololololololololololololololololol ok jesus christ

  172. Mini Wembo -  June 27, 2012 - 11:04 am


  173. Tim Chambers -  June 27, 2012 - 10:20 am

    “Hash” will do fine. The OED cites first usage in 1973 in U.S. Patent 3,920,926: “The pad provides keys for numerals 0 to 9, while..the octothorp (#) key generates a command to send the contents of the memory into the telephone line.” Note there is no trailing ‘e’.

    I especially like hashtag over octothorptag for this reason: The OED (3a) defines “hash” as “A mixture of mangled and incongruous fragments; a medley; a spoiled mixture; a mess, jumble.”

    Re. the fact that Facebook doesn’t support hashtags. That’s another reason I prefer Google+.

    See my post for more about the octothorp and hashtags: http://j.mp/NC7vnR

  174. fabgirl -  June 27, 2012 - 9:40 am

    Why do we dot lowercase ”i”s

  175. Char -  June 27, 2012 - 8:38 am

    In medical documenation # refers to a fracture……

  176. klipsch -  June 27, 2012 - 8:27 am


  177. Ian Mallett -  June 27, 2012 - 8:04 am

    As others have pointed out, the “#” sign in computer programming doesn’t necessarily denote a comment. See basic list:

    Python, Perl: “#”
    C/C++/Java (evil): “//” or “/*…*/”
    MATLAB: “%”
    FORTRAN: “C” (IV) or “!” (90)
    Lua: “–”
    Lisp (e.g., Scheme): “;”

    Additionally, many languages (e.g., C languages, Python) allow strings to be added to code, but not assigned to anything, so they aren’t used–effectively a comment.

  178. Cleanjeans -  June 27, 2012 - 7:44 am

    Hash from the French hacher “chop up,” which in turn is from Old French hache “ax” (see hatchet)

  179. Hearaoi -  June 27, 2012 - 7:43 am

    In the 80s I needed a name for #. I knew it was called pound sign and number sign, but was troubled by the extra ‘helper’ word, sign. And since there were two phrases, there might well be a universal term. I asked a colleague. He said with no uncertainty, ‘That’s a ponsin.’ The spelling’s mine; the pronunciation is his.

  180. Cleanjeans -  June 27, 2012 - 7:38 am

    Hashtag sounds very British.

  181. Joe -  June 27, 2012 - 7:09 am

    Got me intrested in the origins of the percent sign too.
    “The percent sign evolved by gradual contraction of the phrase per cento. The “per” was often abbreviated as “p.” and eventually disappeared entirely. The “cento” was contracted to two circles separated by a horizontal line from which the modern “%” is derived.” (Smith, D.E. (1951∨1958). History of Mathematics.)

  182. Adamus Adonis -  June 27, 2012 - 6:03 am

    Myself and pretty much everyone I know has called it “hash” as long as I can remember. I don’t think it is correct to attribute this name to social networking nor imply Octothorpe is the actual name.

  183. Sandy -  June 27, 2012 - 4:23 am

    So far as I know, in England and Australia, it has always been know as the hash, but is used to represent the word number though never called that.

  184. Jackie -  June 27, 2012 - 4:09 am

    In Singapore, # is commonly known as “hex”. For example, in addresses, we say hex-zero-two-dash-two-three for “#02-23″. In web design, HTML Colour Code is also called the Hex Colour Code, where #000000 is black and #FFFFFF is white. I always thought hashtag is basically tagging with a hex in all things mashable. Of course, hashtag rolls off the tongue better than hextag.

  185. Stu -  June 27, 2012 - 3:27 am

    # on its own is not a hashtag. I would describe it as the Hash Symbol, or Hash, but it is only when conjoined with a word does it create a full hashtag.

    Try it – search Twitter for # and see if you have a logical grouping of results in a common theme.

  186. rajeshkw -  June 27, 2012 - 12:06 am

    can anyone explain why do symbols of English and Devnagari(indian languages like Hindi,Marathi,Sanskrit) are the same?

  187. David -  June 26, 2012 - 11:42 pm

    People in Cambodia call it “troung chrouk” which means pigpen. They use bamboo to build their animal pens and I guess this looks like the wall or something.

  188. benT -  June 26, 2012 - 8:54 pm

    since my earliest days in ICT ie:1970s, it has been called ‘hash’ which of course made some conversations difficult in those times with hashish being a prized commodity.

  189. Zaxopify -  June 26, 2012 - 6:10 pm

    Lets call it the Pound-o-Hash.

  190. Zaxopify -  June 26, 2012 - 6:09 pm

    Number Sign.

  191. artee11 -  June 26, 2012 - 4:41 pm

    so that’s where it came from..

  192. Dave -  June 26, 2012 - 4:15 pm

    Doesn’t “hashtag” refer to the the whole tag that begins with the # or hash symbol? If so then twitter is actually calling it a hash.

    Unix scripts (and the /etc/hosts file) use it as a comment.

  193. Korean Girl -  June 26, 2012 - 2:54 pm

    In Korea we call those “Sharp”
    Because if you study music you will know what I mean.
    If you don’t the link below explains what it is.

    I personally think everyone should call it sharp. It’s simple and easy. :)

  194. parker -  June 26, 2012 - 2:51 pm


  195. jay -  June 26, 2012 - 2:43 pm

    In Singapore, perhaps other countries in this region too, # is referred to as “hex”,don’t know the origin

  196. Marcus -  June 26, 2012 - 2:23 pm

    So what about the origion of the word hash? When you make mistake people have said ‘well you have made a hash of that’ Then there is coding something before sending it using a hash table.

    I have also heard the # refered to as the gate symbol as it looks like a gate. It is also the sharp symbol used in music.

    To call it an Octothorp is just too geekish and does not roll off the tounge and besides the miasma of the name is already fairly established. So adding the suffix -tag simply means that in the long run it will become hash again.

  197. artfullyme -  June 26, 2012 - 2:18 pm

    I like the term “sharp” even though I’ve used all the other terms at one time or another. If I hear the term “a sharp” I immediately think of the sharp sign. Say the word “hash” and I immediately think “sling,” so it (hash) has no appeal, but that’s just artfully me.

  198. Anna Sol -  June 26, 2012 - 2:14 pm

    In Spanish the # symbol is also called the “gato” symbol i.e. the “cat” symbol.
    It is because the Tic Tac Toe game in Spanish is called “El juego del Gato”

  199. boteman -  June 26, 2012 - 2:08 pm

    I’ve heard British telephone intercept recordings instructing the caller to “press square”, so add that to the list.

  200. Commenter -  June 26, 2012 - 2:02 pm

    But, personally, I prefer ‘number sign’. :)

  201. Commenter -  June 26, 2012 - 1:59 pm

    Would ‘metatrope’ have that meaning?…

    How about ‘omnitrope’ or ‘pan-trope’? Or perhaps better yet, ‘polytrope’?

  202. alex -  June 26, 2012 - 1:26 pm


  203. alex -  June 26, 2012 - 1:26 pm

    :) :) :) :) :):) :):):):):):):):):):):):):)

  204. alex -  June 26, 2012 - 1:25 pm

    that is weird and we do use that on facebook

  205. alex -  June 26, 2012 - 1:24 pm

    this is weird o tink

  206. MCDANDC -  June 26, 2012 - 1:16 pm

    Phone entries use of ‘#’ refers to the “pound” sign

  207. Larry -  June 26, 2012 - 12:50 pm

    As Z is the mark of Zorro; # could end up being the mark of the Octomom. What a horrible thought!

  208. Tim Kramar -  June 26, 2012 - 12:31 pm

    So what is the name of the @ symbol?

  209. Dene Bebbington -  June 26, 2012 - 12:13 pm

    I work in IT and have never heard someone called the hash symbol a hashtag unless they’re talking about Twitter.

  210. J -  June 26, 2012 - 11:40 am

    @joe, correct, but idots on facebook do…

  211. LOL -  June 26, 2012 - 11:33 am

    You’ve got my vote, Eyewitness!

    But — gasp! — wouldn’t “octotrope” or “metatrope” fall into the same category the article’s author has delineated for “octothorpe”? Can the world _really_ afford another “made-up” word??! Hold the line! Insist on only naturally occurring words: you know, those tripped over in the wild and collected in dictionaries . . .

  212. QA -  June 26, 2012 - 10:54 am

    The “learn about it here” link in the 6th paragraph is not linking to anything.

  213. LukeJavan -  June 26, 2012 - 9:25 am

    What symbol no longer used: Learn about it here:

  214. John Oberholtzer -  June 26, 2012 - 9:20 am

    I think we should call it Stan.

  215. DeniseAlexis -  June 26, 2012 - 9:19 am

    I say congratulations for the # sign for making it “in the limelight.” It was only mostly used for numbers before, now it is being frequently used with alphabets. Some did not even know what this symbol is exactly called and what it’s for. It was only refferred to as a “number sign” in general. I for one did not care and was only concerned to use it with 1, 2, 3 and so on.

  216. Yankiemog -  June 26, 2012 - 8:33 am


  217. Yepi -  June 26, 2012 - 8:09 am

    Yes, I tried all of these things before, and yes they all work. Some of them you have heard of before, but some of them you may have never thought of. Here is my quick guide on how to make some quick cash online.

  218. cookie -  June 26, 2012 - 8:02 am

    Am I the only one who thinks of it a ‘pound’ sign?

  219. Ole TBoy -  June 26, 2012 - 7:37 am

    “Hashtag” is new to me, but I like it. Sounds like what it is and that is always good.

  220. OCTOTHORPE#3 | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  June 26, 2012 - 7:35 am

    [...] ‘Octothorpe#3′. What’s your sign? — Symbolically or otherwise, pounded down  — numerically into some hash tag yours or mine. — Put a box around — or parallelogram — It with X N Os  — You’re joking right? — Not contextually sound — Quickly moving to and fro. — A round goes still evolving,  — the Milky Way Tonight? — No, Fracking Problem solving: –  Tic-Tac-Toe. –L.T.Rhyme [...]

  221. marly huiras -  June 26, 2012 - 6:45 am

    A new word, often technical, becomes a word through continuous use. It evolves as more people use it. Since it seems hashtag has higher use and visibility, that is probably what the symbol # name will become.

    Notify the lexicographers and word police immediately!

  222. Lama 2000 -  June 26, 2012 - 6:32 am

    My name is bob Mackenzie just kidding its Yash and I am new to dictionary .com it is a wonderful website. I love the way they describe the number symbols History!

  223. Steven Seagal -  June 26, 2012 - 6:06 am

    Programmers call it a hash. It’s been used for many years on Unix operating systems on the first line of scripts as part of a #! (called a hash-bang or shebang). Its purpose is to list the binary that should be used to execute the script, e.g. a Ruby script might have


    or a Python script might start with


    which allow the script to be called directly, rather than having to invoke it with the interpreter (e.g. `./myscript` instead of `ruby myscript`).

  224. Senthil -  June 26, 2012 - 6:02 am

    Nothing in facebook

  225. Grimalkyne -  June 26, 2012 - 5:20 am

    In computer code, the # symbol means that everything that follows is only comment, not instructions.

    It might mean “Treat the rest of this line as a comment” to some compilers, but there are plenty that don’t recognise it (Java, C, C++ VB.Net…)

  226. Oleg -  June 26, 2012 - 4:29 am

    Also, in programming, // or /* means comment… # could mean compiler command…

  227. Lexi -  June 26, 2012 - 3:41 am

    How about “widget”? Octothorpe is too long and will immediately be abbreviated. “Number sign” and “pound” are too specific for it’s current multitasking job.

  228. Neal Nelson -  June 26, 2012 - 2:59 am

    It’s always been the hash in England, because we already have a pound: £

    And in the unix world it’s often followed by a bang: #!. Daft terminology, but there you go.

  229. k.g.parthasarathy -  June 26, 2012 - 2:51 am

    It is very interesting. The small symbol has a big history. It is being used for several purposes and now became very popular.

  230. Muggins -  June 26, 2012 - 2:18 am

    It’s been known as the hash (sign/symbol) for as long as I can remember in the UK. As far as I know the “pound sign” term was only ever used in the USA.
    The word “hash” doesn’t immediately make me think of “mediocre diner food” either, but rather something else…

    • Matt -  April 8, 2015 - 1:11 pm

      That’s only because pound sign means something else in the UK. However # always meant pounds (weight).

  231. jarochobosse -  June 26, 2012 - 1:18 am

    In far distant history of musical notation you will find an intirely different story.
    At one point in the pre tonal era G was considered the tonic (the fundamental) and the note called B in English was used in two different pitches: one higher, producing a major-like tonality, andd one lower, sounding like minor. These two were called b durum and b molle, respectively.
    In the cloister hand writing of the time the b molle was represented with a regular ‘lower case b’, and b durum with a b with the ‘belly’ in square form!

    This angular ‘b’ developed into # as well as the ‘natural’ sign in modern musical notation (and in the handwritten ‘manuscripts’ the rationalized b durum sign kept its upper right hand 90° angel, but lost its lower one, resulting in something that looked like an ‘h’ – thus leading to the B note erroneously being named H in German music language).

  232. jarochobosse -  June 26, 2012 - 1:14 am

    In far distant history of musical notation you will find an entirely different story.
    At one point in the pre tonal era G was considered the tonic (the fundamental) and the note called B in English was an H (a mistake!) in the crucial European nomenclature. This H/B was used in two different pitches: one higher, producing a major-like tonality, and one lower, producing a minor-like tonality. These two were called b durum and b molle, respectively. In the cloister hand writing of the time the b mole was a regular ‘lower case b’, and b durum a b with the ‘belly’ in square form!
    This angular ‘b’ developed into # as well as the ‘natural’ sign in modern musical notation (and in the handwritten ‘manuscripts’ the rationalized b durum sign kept its upper right hand 90° angel, but lost its lower one, resulting in something that looked like an ‘h’ – thus leading to the B note erroneously being named H in German music language).

  233. jarochobosse -  June 26, 2012 - 1:09 am

    In far distant history of musical notation you will find an intirely different story.
    At one point in the pre tonal era G was considered the tonic (the fundamental) and the note called B in English was an H (a mistake!) in the crucial European nomenclature. This H/B was used in two different pitches: one higher, producing a major-like tonality, andd one lower, sounding like minor. These two were called B durum and B mole, respectively [or rather b durum and b molle]. In the cloister hand writing of the time the b mole was a regular ‘lower case b’, and b durum a b with the ‘belly’ in square form!
    This angular ‘b’ developed into # as well as the ‘natural’ sign in modern musical notation (and in the handwritten ‘manuscripts’ the rationalized b durum sign kept its upper right hand 90° angel, but lost its lower one, resulting in something that looked like an ‘h’ – thus leading to the B note erroneously being named H in German music language).

  234. Marsh -  June 25, 2012 - 10:55 pm

    This was a good read as usual. Could we discuss the “%” (percentage) symbol too? I’ve always considered it as a beautiful looking symbol :)

  235. Me -  June 25, 2012 - 6:59 pm

    it’s the x and o’s sign!

  236. Ray -  June 25, 2012 - 6:13 pm

    But it has nine, fields, in the modern sense… Eight in the old feudal context of fields or rustic villages (thorpes) surrounding the royal fortress….


    Kenner used it for secret code writing, with points….

    And correction: Computers -today- use // or % for comments…

    And, # approximates ++ (overlapped), e.g. C# vs. C++ languages…

  237. Laura Nass -  June 25, 2012 - 3:41 pm

    ` reverse apostrophe?
    | vertical bar?

    You might want to give the many names for !, including “bang”.
    Also *, including “splat” and “star”.

    What about the upside-down punctuation used in Spanish for ? and ! uh… ?
    Lots of characters that I can’t ask about because they’re not in ASCII. Paragraph symbol? The huge, tall S used in old English? The German character that looks like a goofy B but represents “SS”? The horizontal bar that sits above a vowel to denote a long vowel? A single dot, or a small circle that sits above a letter?

    I could come up with more if I spent more time on it… but that’s enough for now :) Thanks!

  238. codemonkey -  June 25, 2012 - 3:35 pm

    I’m not aware of a computer language that uses # as a comment, which is not to say that your statement is wrong. In C, # is used as a preprocessor directive, allowing blocks of code to be conditionally included in or excluded from the compiled output. Potentially useful, but open to abuse. A program I worked on once had blocks of code bracketed by #ifdef BRAINDEAD … #endif. I thought I could safely ignore that code. Wrong!

  239. Tupah AT -  June 25, 2012 - 3:34 pm

    I’d say call it simply ‘number sign’! For one, it’s s so easy to remember. :)

  240. Eyewitness -  June 25, 2012 - 2:32 pm

    By the way, the ‘eight fields’ etymology of ‘octotrope’ falls somewhat short of convincing argument. The symbol has eight points around the perimeter, but it describes [literally, is a pictograph of] NINE fields. Sorry, colleagues at Dictionary.com, but this bit of academe, charming though it may be coming from you all, is a bit thin on the PSM*.

    * Pedantic Scale of Mendacity, my own personal neologism, which I hereby place in the public domain for banter among all linguists great and small, or should I say linguists great and greater …

  241. Eyewitness -  June 25, 2012 - 2:13 pm

    On further consideration but in line with the same reasoning perhaps, it should be renamed a ‘metatrope,’ which is to say, “all things to all stimulii / all causalities” or “all meanings to all demands.”

  242. Eyewitness -  June 25, 2012 - 2:08 pm

    As the octothorpe admittedly has myriad uses, and probably more will follow as digital technologies [including social media] expand, I propose its name should be changed to ‘octotrope,’ which refers to its itinerant properties as an adaptable, alphabetic ‘widget’ [viz, the universal something].

  243. Joe Liuzzi -  June 25, 2012 - 2:06 pm

    Facebook doesn’t use hashtags.

  244. Nisha -  June 25, 2012 - 1:39 pm



Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked (required):

Related articles

Back to Top