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.

SINGLE CHARACTERS
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!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
' Typewriter Apostrophe Quotation mark (single), tick, prime, irk, pop, spark, glitch. (U+0027)
Apostrophe Quotation mark (single), Right Single Quotation Mark , smart quote, curly apostrophe, tick, prime, irk, pop, spark, glitch. (U+2019)
` Grave (grave/acute) accent, backquote, left/open quote, backprime, unapostrophe, backspark, birk, blugle, backtick, push, backglitch, backping, execute, blip
# 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
*Asteriskstar, splat, spider, aster, times, wildcard (UNIX), gear, dingle, (Nathan) Hale, bug, twinkle, funny button, pine cone, glob (UNIX)
@ 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)
()Parentheses parens, brackets or round brackets (UK usage), bananas, ears, bowlegs
( Opening Parenthesis (open) paren, so, wane, parenthesee, open, open bracket (UK usage), sad
) Closing Parenthesis already, wax, unparenthesee, close (paren), close bracket (UK usage), happy, thesis
[ ] Brackets square brackets, U-turns, edged parentheses
[ Left Bracket bracket, bra, (left) square (brack[et]), opensquare
] Right Bracket unbracket, ket, right square (brack[et]), unsquare, close
{ } Braces curly braces, squiggly braces, curly brackets, squiggle brackets, Tuborgs, ponds, curly chevrons, squirrly braces, hitchcocks, chippendale brackets
{ Left Brace brace, curly, leftit, embrace, openbrace, begin (C)
} Right Brace unbrace, uncurly, rytit, bracelet, close, end (C)
< > Angle Brackets angles, funnels, brokets, pointy brackets, widgets
< Less Than less, read from (UNIX), from (UNIX), in (UNIX), comesfrom (UNIX), crunch, sucks, left chevron, open pointy (brack[et]), bra, west, (left|open) widget
> Greater Than more, write to (UNIX), into/toward (UNIX), out (UNIX), gazinta (UNIX), zap, blows, right chevron, closing pointy (brack[et]), ket, east, (right|close) widget
+Plus Signplus, add, cross, and, intersection
,Commatail
-Hyphen minus (sign), dash, dak, tac (Military), option, flag, negative (sign), worm, bithorpe
_ Underscore underline, underbar, under, score, backarrow, flatworm, blank, gets, dash, sneak
~ Tilde twiddle, tilda, tildee, wave, squiggle, swung dash, swan hyphen (UK usage), approx, wiggle, enyay, home (UNIX), worm, not (C)
.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
=Equal Signequal(s), gets, becomes, quadrathorpe, half-mesh
?Question Markquestion, query, whatmark, what, wildchar (UNIX), huh, ques, kwes, quiz, quark, hook, interrogation point
\Backslash reversed virgule, bash, (back)slant, backwhack, backslat, escape (UNIX), backslak, bak, scan, expand, slosh, slope, blash, (whack =microsoft corp. speak)
^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
|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
MULTIPLE CHARACTER STRINGS
!?interrobang (one overlapped character)
*/asterslash (C), times-div
/*slashterix (C), slashaster
:= becomes, Walrus operator (Python)
<-gets
<<left-shift (C), double smaller
<> unequal, “box” (Ada language generics).
>>appends (UNIX), cat-astrophe, right-shift (C), double greater
->arrow (C), pointer to (C), hiccup (C)
#! shebang, sh'bang, wallop
\!*bash-bang-splat
()nil
&& and (C), and-and (C), amper-amper, succeeds-then (UNIX)
||or (C), or-or (C), fails-then (UNIX)
NOTES
! bang

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 often contained the word "Bang!" – hence, "!" == "Bang!"

Alternatively it could have come from old card punch phenomenon where punching ! code made a loud noise; (this is likely apocryphal as the EBCDIC code for '!' is 5A) however, this pronunciation is used in the (non-computerized) publishing and typesetting industry in the U.S. too.

! 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 duck From the Danish "Anders And", which means "Donald Duck"
*splat From DEC "spider" glyph
*Nathan Hale"I have but one asterisk for my country."
*funny button At 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-div From FORTH
=quadrathorpe Half an octothorpe
-bithorpe Half a quadrathorpe (So what's a monothorpe?)
.putVictor Borge's Phonetic Punctuation which dates back to the middle 1950's
/acrossAPL
/compressAPL
/reduceAPL
/replicateAPL
/shilling From the old British currency symbol
:=becomese.g. Pascal
;go-onAlgol68
<left chevron From the military: worn vertically on the sleeve to signify rating
< bra From quantum mechanics
<> unequal In many languages e.g. Pascal. In Ada language generics “box” <> is commonly used as a wildcard or default placeholder.
>right chevron From the military: worn vertically on the sleeve to signify rank
>ket From quantum mechanics
@snable-a From Danish; may translate as "trunk-a"
@trunk-a"trunk" = "elephant nose"
@strudelas in Austrian apple cake
@fetch From FORTH
\scanAPL
\expandAPL
^and From formal logic
^pointer From PASCAL
^upper-thancf. > and <
_gets Some alternative representation of underscore resembles a backarrow
_dash As distinct from '-' == minus
'execute From shell command substitution
{}Tuborgs From advertizing for well-known Danish beverage
{}curly chevr. See "< left chevron"
{}hitchcocks From 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.
~enyay From the Spanish n-tilde Ñ
()nilLISP

Version 2.92, 2021 added Microsoft # & Ada Box.
Version 2.93, 2022 added Some British usage and notes about '!'.

Related linux commands:

ASCII Table
The Original Jargon File
How to pronounce "Linux"


 
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