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
Spaceblank
!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
( Opening Parenthesis(open) paren, so, wane, parenthesee, open, sad
) Closing Parenthesis already, wax, unparenthesee, close (paren), happy, thesis
+Plus Signplus, add, cross, and, intersection
,Commatail
-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)
 
MULTIPLE CHARACTER STRINGS
!?interrobang (one overlapped character)
*/asterslash (C), times-div
/*slashterix (C), slashaster
:=becomes
<-gets
<<left-shift (C), double smaller
<>unequal
>>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
! 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
/acrossAPL
/compressAPL
/reduceAPL
/replicateAPL
/shilling from the old British currency symbol
:=becomese.g. Pascal
;go-onAlgol68
<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
\scanAPL
\expandAPL
^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
()nilLISP

Version 2.9, 2014 added Microsoft #.

Related linux commands:

ASCII Table
The Original Jargon File


 
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