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Special symbols

indicate EnglishSpecial symbols, special signs

indicate German Sonderzeichen

indicate French Signes speciaux

Sign, symbol and signal
Special characters
Currency symbols
Reference symbols

[To top/bottom of page] Sign, symbol and signal

Definitions according to the Concise Oxford.
Thing used as representation of something (positive or plus sign)
Regarded by general consent as naturally typifying or representing or recalling something (esp. an idea or quality)by possession of analogous qualities or by association in fact or thought (thunderbolt is the symbol of Zeus, the cross is the symbol of Chistianity)
Intelligible (esp. prearranged) sign conveying information or direction esp. to persons at a distance. Message made up of such signs (The signal was to be the dropping of a handkerchief; train stopped at the red signal).


  Indicating English  indicate German  indicate French
Special characters


Ampersand das kaufmännische und esperluète, perluète, esperluezte


At sign der affenschwanz, der klammeraffe

le à commercial
arrobe, arrobas


Number sign die harfe, das doppelkreuz, der gatter, der gartenhaag (CH) le symbole numéro, crosillon [ISO], dièse (à cause de sa ressemblance avec ce signe musical)


Section sign das abschnitt zeichen; das pargraphen zeichen paragraphe (alinéa)

Paragraph sign das absatz zeichen pied de mouche (fin de paragraphe)


  das gerade anführungszeichen, das gänsefüsschen guillemet anglais


Copyright sign das copyright zeichen le symbole de copyright


Registered sign das registrierungs-zeichen

symbole marque déposée

Trade mark sign das handelsmarken-zeichen  
Currency symbols


Pound sign das pfund zeichen, Englishes Pfund le livre sterling, symbole livre
Reference symbols

[To top/bottom of page] Special characters

& Ampersand

(n) [pub] The shape of this sign is derived from the ligature "et", the latin word for "and" (e.g. et cetera). According to Boeffrey Glaister in his Glossary of the Book the English term ampersand is a corruption of "and per se and" which means "the character & by itself is the word and". Glyphs (character shapes) depend on the design of the font:

Adobe Garamond Minion Janson Text Meridien ITC New Baskerville
ampersand from  Adobe Garamond ampersand from Minion ampersand from Jason Text ampersand from Meridien ampersand from ITC New Baskerville


One of the first examples of an ampersand appears on apiece of papyrus from about 45 A.D., but also a graffiti from Pompei is dated 79 A.D. (1). Development of presentation of the Ampersand

Further developments on the image are: Early roman script around 350 (2); Scottish writing 9th century (3); carolingian minuscle around 810 (4); humanist minuscle at 1453 (5); William Caslon, London 1728 (6); Ludovico degli Arrighi, 1532 (7).

@ Commercial at sign

(n) [pub] The shape of this sign has similar roots as th shape of the ampersand. It developed from the hand writing of the word «at» with the t degenerating to an appendix to the a. It may also have evolved from the French à, where the accent has been extended to the 'tail'.

(n) [sys] In programming this symbol is used to denote a pointer or reference (e.g. @accounts points to the list of accounts). The symbol found its way into the ASCII and from there into various ISO standards. This symbol became known to the public by the e-mail addressing scheme in the Internet, for example: kasimir@sowewhere.com.


This symbol has various names: atto mak (Japan), arroba (Spain), petit escargot = little snail (France), miukumauku = sleeping cat (Finland), zavinac = salted herring (Tzech), kanelbulle = cinamon pastery (Sweden).

# Number sign

(n) [pub] Also called hash sign (UK). Until about 1970 this sign was also called pound sign (for weights) in the US and in German speaking areas (1 pfund = 1/2 kg). Some phone companies (US) insist in this archaic meaning when referring to this sign on the phone pad. Other names from the US include: crosshatch, sharp. UK phone companies use the name gate. The funniest name was given by an AT&T person, but this word octothorpe may be of older origin.

(n) [sys] In programming used to denote names of numbers (constants) and counters (e.g. #pi, #items) It is also very often used as a delimter for parsing. In the Ada programming language this symbol is called sharp (the term used in musical notation).

Paragraph sign

(n) [pub] Depending on the culture, this sign looks differently: in anglophone countries this is ¶, whereas in German speaking areas this is §.The ¶ sometimes is called pilcrow sign.

§ Section sign

(n) [pub] The meaning of the symbol depends on the culture. See the explanations for the paragraph sign.

(n) [pub]

© Copyright sign

(n) [pub]

® Registered sign

(n) [pub]

Trade mark sign

(n) [pub]

[To top/bottom of page] Currency symbols

Various currency symbols

$ Dollar sign

(n) [sys] In programming this symbol often denotes names and functions for character strings (e.g. $items, $list_of_items, $length()).

£ Pound sign

(n) [pub] The pound sign normally represents the monetary unit of Great Britain, the Pound Sterling.

[To top/bottom of page] Reference symbols

Various currency symbols

[To top/bottom of page] Sources

Jaques André: Ligatures, typographie et informatique. 5-dec-1994. INRIA Rapport de recherce n° 2429. Indicating French

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