What was the “#” originally called? Octothorpe?

Did you Know octothorpe was the original name for a hashtag?

In present day…

The # has been used in social media and referred to as a hashtag. The idea of calling it “hash” came out in the 1970s. It has also been referred to as the pound sign and the number sign. It had been called the pound sign because when scribes wrote it “lb”, a line was often slashed across the top of the “lb” creating a similar appearance to the “#” symbol. However, not to confused with the British form of currency, they would refer to it as the number sign, such as in a number two pencil (#2). Other names for the symbol include “tic-tac-toe,” “crunch,” “square,” etc.

Octothorpe was actually a made up word.

It was formulated by technicians when creating the “*” and “#” symbols on the phone in the 1960s. It had many spelling deviations: octothorp, octotherp, octatherp, etc. One of the theories of why they chose that name was that it had the appearance of a town surrounded by eight fields, “octo” meaning eight and “thorpe” meaning fields. Another theory was that it was named after an athlete, Jim Thorpe.

Read more about the origins of octothorpe at these references:

Did You Know? Ampersand

Did you know the ampersand was once part of the English alphabet?

In the early to mid 1800’s, schools would include “&” as the 27th letter of the alphabet. Examples can be seen in M. B. Moore’s 1863 book, The Dixie Primer, for the Little Folks.

The original name of the word, however, was “and” – not “ampersand.” Students would recite the alphabet and finish with “X, Y, Z, and per se and.” The meaning of “per se” is “by itself” in Latin.  Eventually, “and per se and” was shortened to ampersand.

However, “&” existed long before ampersand, about 1,500 years before. Romans would record Latin in cursive. When they wrote “et,” they would often combine the letters, ultimately leading to the eventual formation of &. If you ever see &c, instead of etc. used, you will have a better understanding why and its origin.

The more you know…

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