TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
>>We also call it the tic-tac-toe sign around here ("Mash the 1 key and
>>mash the tic-tac-toe sign and it'll ring my bells in my office. . . .")
>>It kind of looks like a splat, too, but "*" is the splat, unless you're
>>a Mac and have a "command" key, which is officially the "splat" or
>Hmmmmmmmmm.......... when did people stop calling the # sign the
>_pound_ sign? Or the * the _asterisk_? "Splat"? Heck, even "star"
>is more accurate than "splat"...
>Is this the new English?
More like not-so-new computer-speak, stemming from the need to succintly
communicate semi-cryptic keyboard entries. I mean, it's pretty
to tell someone to type "dee eye are space asterix period asterix" rather
than "dir star dot star".
"Splat" had a brief vogue a few years back as the nickname for the
but I suspect that it fell out of favor because it seems to describe the
pound/tic-tac-toe/hatch symbol at least as well as the asterix.
As to calling the # symbol the "pound sign", this is the most common
here in the US. But as I learned from a British customer when I referred
to something as being a "pound-defined" in a C language header file, a
sign is something totally different in the UK (i.e. the L-shaped symbol
their monetary unit). According to my British friend, the most common
for # in the UK was "hatch" or "hash". Of the two, I would vote for
since it is more descriptive of the symbol itself and because it is less
likely to be mistaken for "slash" (the shorthand name for the virgule).
"Octothorp(e)" is a lovely-sounding name, and is descriptive of the eight
points of the symbol itself, and is not likely to be used to refer to
*anything* else; but its recognition factor is very low (except among
language nerds like us...) and it simply has too many sylables to be very
useful as a handy nickname.