Re: Octothorp

Subject: Re: Octothorp
From: TIMMERMAN <timmerma -at- IPDLINK -dot- IPD -dot- ANL -dot- GOV>
Date: Thu, 15 Aug 1996 11:13:01 CST


What you call it (#) depends on whether you are identifing or
defining the symbol. According to Merriam Webster's Collegiate
Dictionary, tenth edition, the name for the # symbol is octothorp
(I didn't know this word; thanks for educating me). Its meaning,
however, is another issue.

# = pounds (business and finance)
# = number (business and finance)
# = insert space (proofreader's mark)
# = (How many other meanings are there?)

So, is your reference to the name of the symbol, or to its meaning?

Don Timmerman
Argonne National Laboratory
dtimmerman -at- anl -dot- gov

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Author: Misti Delaney <mdelaney -at- SOFTWARE-SERVICES -dot- COM> at Internet-Mail
Date: 8/15/96 10:11 AM

I'm forwarding this is a message for a friend:

In some documentation I'm doing (aimed at librarians), I referred to
octothorp (#). My boss loves the word, but never heard it before, and
it's not in the abridged dictionaries we have here. I meant to look it
up in my OED or Random House dictionary, but didn't have time
yesterday. So - do any of you know the origin of the word octothorp?
I have a vague suspicion that it's an old printer's term (used only by
old printers, no doubt... folks under 45 are forbidden to use it, and
therefore must call it a hash mark or pound sign <g>)

I get to keep the word, but just for my own curiosity if you were
referring to #, would you call it a hash mark, a pound sign, or an

and, when was the last time (other than buying nails) that you saw #
mean pound? Usually, I see lb. And why is lb. the abbreviation for
pound, which has neither letter in it? (oh: lb. is an abbreviation for
libra, the Latin word for scale, and maybe for pound too... ok, that
makes sense.)

WA! I miss my OED! (it's at home somewhere, but I'm at work)


Misti Delaney (Tucker)

Technical Consultant/ Communication Specialist
Software Services Corporation
Ann Arbor, Michigan
(800) 448-1568

My opinions do not in any way represent those of my employer.

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