Pronunciation guide for UNIX

How do I pronounce vi , or ! , or /* , or ...? You can start a very long and pointless discussion by wondering about this topic on the net. Some people say vye, some say vee-eye (the vi manual suggests this) and some Roman numerologists say six. How you pronounce vi has nothing to do with whether or not you are a true Unix wizard.

Similarly, you'll find that some people pronounce char as care, and that there are lots of ways to say # or /* or ! or tty or /etc. No one pronunciation is correct - enjoy the regional dialects and accents.

!Exclamation point exclamation (mark), (ex)clam, excl, wow, hey, boing, bang, shout, yell, shriek, pling, factorial, ball-bat, smash, cuss, store, not (UNIX) (C), dammit (UNIX)
" Quotation mark (double) (double) quote, dirk, literal mark, rabbit ears, double ping, double glitch, inverted commas
# Octothorpe hash, crosshatch, pound, pound sign, number, number sign, octothorpe, (garden) fence, crunch, mesh, hex, flash, grid, pig-pen, tictactoe, scratch (mark), (garden) gate, hak, oof, rake, unequal, punch mark.
Microsoft call this character "sharp" as with C#, J# (but it is not the musical SHARP ♯ which has vertical lines and oblique horizontal lines.)
$Dollar Signdollar, cash, currency symbol, buck, string, escape, ding, big-money, Sonne
%Percent Signpercent, mod (C), shift-5, double-oh-seven, grapes
& Ampersandand, amper, address (C), shift-7, andpersand, snowman, bitand (C), donald duck, background (UNIX), pretzel
' Typewriter Apostrophe Quotation mark (single), tick, prime, irk, pop, spark, glitch. (deprecated in Unicode)
*Asteriskstar, splat, spider, aster, times, wildcard (UNIX), gear, dingle, (Nathan) Hale, bug, twinkle, funny button, pine cone, glob (UNIX)
()Parenthesesparens, round brackets, bananas, ears, bowlegs
(Left Parenthesis(open) paren, so, wane, parenthesee, open, sad
)Right Parenthesis already, wax, unparenthesee, close (paren), happy, thesis
+Plus Signplus, add, cross, and, intersection
-Hyphenminus (sign), dash, dak, option, flag, negative (sign), worm, bithorpe
.Perioddot, decimal (point), (radix) point, spot, full stop, put
/Slashstroke, virgule, solidus, slant, diagonal, over, slat, slak, across, compress, reduce, replicate, spare, divided-by, forward slash, shilling
:Colontwo-spot, double dot, dots
;Semicolonsemi, hybrid, go-on
<>Angle Bracketsangles, funnels, brokets, pointy brackets, widgets
<Less Thanless, read from (UNIX), from (UNIX), in (UNIX), comesfrom (UNIX), crunch, sucks, left chevron, open pointy (brack[et]), bra, west, (left|open) widget
>Greater Thanmore, write to (UNIX), into/toward (UNIX), out (UNIX), gazinta (UNIX), zap, blows, right chevron, closing pointy (brack[et]), ket, east, (right|close) widget
=Equal Signequal(s), gets, becomes, quadrathorpe, half-mesh
?Question Markquestion, query, whatmark, what, wildchar (UNIX), huh, ques, kwes, quiz, quark, hook, interrogation point
@At Sign at, each, vortex, whirl, whirlpool, cyclone, snail, ape (tail), cat, snable-a, trunk-a, rose, cabbage, Mercantile symbol, strudel, fetch, commercial-at, monkey (tail)
[]Bracketssquare brackets, U-turns, edged parentheses
[Left Bracketbracket, bra, (left) square (brack[et]), opensquare
]Right Bracketunbracket, ket, right square (brack[et]), unsquare, close
\Backslashreversed virgule, bash, (back)slant, backwhack, backslat, escape (UNIX), backslak, bak, scan, expand, slosh, slope, blash
^Circumflex caret, carrot, (top)hat, cap, uphat, party hat, housetop, up arrow, control, boink, chevron, hiccup, power, to-the(-power), fang, sharkfin, and, xor (C), wok, pointer, pipe (UNIX), upper-than
_Underscoreunderline, underbar, under, score, backarrow, flatworm, blank, gets, dash, sneak
`Grave (grave/acute) accent, backquote, left/open quote, backprime, unapostrophe, backspark, birk, blugle, backtick, push, backglitch, backping, execute, blip
{}Bracescurly braces, squiggly braces, curly brackets, squiggle brackets, Tuborgs, ponds, curly chevrons, squirrly braces, hitchcocks, chippendale brackets
{Left Bracebrace, curly, leftit, embrace, openbrace, begin (C)
}Right Braceunbrace, uncurly, rytit, bracelet, close, end (C)
|Vertical Barpipe (UNIX), pipe to (UNIX), vertical line, broken line, bar, or (C), bitor (C), vert, v-bar, spike, to (UNIX), gazinta (UNIX), thru (UNIX), pipesinta (UNIX), tube, mark, whack, gutter
~Tildetwiddle, tilda, tildee, wave, squiggle, swung dash, approx, wiggle, enyay, home (UNIX), worm, not (C)
!?interrobang (one overlapped character)
*/asterslash (C), times-div
/*slashterix (C), slashaster
<<left-shift (C), double smaller
>>appends (UNIX), cat-astrophe, right-shift (C), double greater
->arrow (C), pointer to (C), hiccup (C)
#! shebang, sh'bang, wallop
&& and (C), and-and (C), amper-amper, succeeds-then (UNIX)
||or (C), or-or (C), fails-then (UNIX)
! bangcomes from old card punch phenomenon where punching ! code made a loud noise; however, this pronunciation is used in the (non-computerized) publishing and typesetting industry in the U.S. too, so ...
Alternatively it could have come from comic books, where the words each character utters are shown in a "balloon" near that character's head. When one character shoots another, it is common to see a balloon pointing at the barrel of the gun to denote that the gun had been fired, not merely aimed. That balloon contained the word "!" -- hence, "!" == "Bang!"
! store from FORTH
! dammit as in "quit, dammit!" while exiting vi and hoping one hasn't clobbered a file too badly
# octothorpe Otherwise known as the numeral sign... In cartography, it is also a symbol for village: eight fields around a central square, and this is the source of its name. Octothorp means eight fields ~ Robert Bringhurst (The Elements of Typographic Style (3rd edition, 2004 p314)

A related term (also involving Octal/8) is octalthorpe (Bell System)

# unequal e.g. Modula-2
$ string from BASIC
$ escape from TOPS-10
$ Sonne In the socialist countries, they used and are using all kinds of IBM clones (hardware + software). It was a common practice just to rename everything (IBM 360 → ESER 1040, etc...).
Of course the "dollar" sign had to be renamed - it became the "international currency symbol" which looks like a circle with 4 rays spreading from it: ¤
Because it looks like a (small) shining sun, in the German Democratic Republic it was usually called "Sonne" (sun).
&donald duckfrom the Danish "Anders And", which means "Donald Duck"
*splatfrom DEC "spider" glyph
*Nathan Hale"I have but one asterisk for my country."
*funny buttonat Pacific Bell, * was referred to by employees as the "funny button", which did not please management at all when it became part of the corporate logo of Pacific Telesis, the holding company...
*/times-divfrom FORTH
=quadrathorpehalf an octothorpe
-bithorpehalf a quadrathorpe (So what's a monothorpe?)
.putVictor Borge's Phonetic Punctuation which dates back to the middle 1950's
/shilling from the old British currency symbol
:=becomese.g. Pascal
<left chevronfrom the military: worn vertically on the sleeve to signify rating
< brafrom quantum mechanics
<> unequale.g. Pascal
>right chevronsee "< left chevron"
>ketfrom quantum mechanics
@snable-afrom Danish; may translate as "trunk-a"
@trunk-a"trunk" = "elephant nose"
@strudelas in Austrian apple cake
@fetchfrom FORTH
^andfrom formal logic
^pointerfrom PASCAL
^upper-thancf. > and <
_getssome alternative representation of underscore resembles a backarrow
_dashas distinct from '-' == minus
`executefrom shell command substitution
{}Tuborgsfrom advertizing for well-known Danish beverage
{}curly chevr.see "< left chevron"
{}hitchcocksfrom the old Alfred Hitchcock show, with the stylized profile of the man
{}chippendale brackets after Chippendale chairs
|broken lineEBCDIC has two vertical bars, one solid and one broken.
~enyayfrom the Spanish n-tilde

Version 2.9, 2014 added Microsoft #.

Related linux commands:

The Original Jargon File

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