Though these odd symbols( ), [ ], { }, and ⟨ ⟩regularly appear on our books and screens, they all have odd, unexpected origins. The most familiar of these unusual symbols is probably the ( ), called parentheses. One of them ( is called a parenthesis, and as a pair the plural are parentheses. Parenthesis literally means “to put beside” from the Greek roots par-, -en and thesis. Grammatically, they behave kind of like commas and serve to set aside a subordinate part of the sentence or discussion.

(Watch for their use in this blog post!) The use of parentheses in printed English dates back to at least 1572.

Both { } and [ ] are types of brackets. The word bracket is related to the French braguette from the name for codpiece armor, that audacious costumery that bears resemblance to the architectural feature the bracket, among other things. The word bracket still applies to shelf supports that resemble the symbol, ]. The word originally came from the Old Germanic word for pants, breeches.

(Want to know about the most common current use of parentheses: emoticons? Learn about those funny figures here.)

Square brackets ([ ]) are used inside of parentheses to denote something subordinate to the subordinate clause. Here’s an example from the 13th Edition of the Chicago Manual of Style: “During a prolonged visit to Australia, Gleuk and an assistant (James Green, who was later to make his own study of a flightless bird [the kiwi] in New Zealand) spent several difficult months observing the survival behavior of cassowaries and emus.”

{ } have a variety of names; they are called alternately braces, curly brackets or squiggly brackets. Commonly today, they signify hugging in electronic communication. The last confusing symbol, ⟨ ⟩, is called the chevron. The word originally meant rafter in Old French and was likely derived from the Latin slang term caprion, meaning goat. The symbol does somewhat resemble the hind legs of those capering creatures. Today it is most often used in complex math problems. All of these parenthese, brackets and chevrons are also used in computer science and programming in ways that us laypeople may never understand.

Do you use these symbols very often? What other glyphs and typographical symbols confuse you?

Groupon Goes to Central Jersey go to website groupon denver

Wireless News November 12, 2010

Wireless News 11-12-2010 Groupon Goes to Central Jersey Type: News

Groupon, a shopping website that offers a daily deal on local goods, services and cultural events, around the world, launched in the Central Jersey market on November 1.

“Home to the state capital and the campus of Princeton University, Central Jersey is an ideal market for Groupon,” said Rob Solomon, president and chief operating officer of Groupon. “We will offer students and residents unbeatable deals on the best that Central Jersey has to offer, while bringing new streams of quality customers to local businesses.”

“Groupon brings buyers and sellers together in a fun and collaborative way,” said Solomon. “We offer the consumer a great deal they can’t get anywhere else and deliver the sales directly to the merchant.” go to web site groupon denver

During its first week in Central Jersey, Groupon’s featured deals included Italian cuisine and bowling. Upcoming deals include paintball passes and NBA Basketball tickets. Central Jersey joins North Jersey as Groupon’s second New Jersey market, the Company said.

More information:


((Comments on this story may be sent to newsdesk@closeupmedia.com))



  1. Philip -  April 7, 2014 - 2:09 am

    Certainly the most common use of parentheses is not for emoticons but in the programming language LISP and its children.

  2. Anonymous -  November 20, 2011 - 12:28 pm

    Contrary to seemingly popular belief, chevrons are not used in mathematical inequalities. Those symbols are actually “inequality symbols”. Chevrons are different characters. Also, in mathematics, square brackets [] are placed outside of round brackets (parentheses), whereas the reverse is true of formal writing. A third level can also be added: “He said that birds (especially the migratory sort [those that fly from the north to the south {or from the south to the north, depending on the time of the year}]) are quite strong.”

    In addition to this, square brackets are used in writing when quotes have been changed: “He went to bed early” could be “[James] went to bed early”.

  3. sherryyu -  November 5, 2011 - 9:50 am

    ive only used them once put used () these a lot of times

  4. Rustgold -  November 3, 2011 - 11:24 pm

    Nice censorship here.

    Too stupid to actually explain the original purpose of the { }, you pretend the question doesn’t exist.
    Please, actually try to explain things if you’re going to make a blog, else it’s simply a waste of everybody’s time reading.

  5. Jivan -  October 28, 2011 - 7:18 pm

    @ chris alejo and Malik

    The dollar sign comes from the letters “US” superimposed on each other. The loop at the bottom of the U disappeared over time, but it should always be written with two vertical strokes, not one, regardless of whether it is referring to the US dollar or any other country’s dollar. Most computer fonts render it with one stroke, as it is here $, but this is incorrect.

  6. Anonymous Glennonite -  October 27, 2011 - 11:52 am

    If a kiwi and a dingo got in a fight, the dingo would obviously win.

  7. Curly -  October 27, 2011 - 1:24 am

    Well, that didn’t come out quite right. Imagine the words, “one,” and, “three,” above and below “two.”

  8. Curly -  October 27, 2011 - 1:23 am

    I wonder if the curly braces on the keyboard came from the line we draw on the side of text to group it together and label it:

    Label { Two

    That’s my best guess.

  9. Archon -  October 26, 2011 - 8:03 pm


    I believe it’s spelled circonflex, in French, and circumflex in English.

    Perhaps afficionados would be spelled better this way.

  10. MsCraven -  October 26, 2011 - 11:49 am

    The correct pronoun is “we.” The grammatical reason is because it’s a subject, not an object. The way we laypeople can figure it out is- take out the word “laypeople.” Then you can see that “us may ever understand” doesn’t make any sense.

  11. ßöb -  October 26, 2011 - 10:15 am


  12. the epicness that is me -  October 26, 2011 - 9:19 am

    I want to know why curly brackets are used both as punctuation in a sentence, and to set aside a group of things (like, if you have a long list of things that can be broken down into several groups, you start curly brackets at the beginning and end of a section of the list and write what they are at the middle pointy part.

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