Dictionary.com

How do you use this slippery piece of punctuation: the slash?

slash new

The slash (/)—sometimes called a slant, a solidus, a stroke, or a virgule—is a commonly employed symbol in the English language. Whatever you want to call this piece of punctuation, its role in English has greatly changed over time.

The word slash first entered English in the late 14th century as a verb to describe the cutting movement of a weapon, a word derived from the Middle French esclachier, meaning “to break.” The noun form of slash came into the language in the 1500s, but it was not until much later (the 1960s) that the term “slash” was used to represent the (/) symbol we know and love today.

Compare this with “virgule,” which entered English in the 1830s from the French word for “comma.” In medieval manuscripts, a virgule or slash was often used in place of today’s comma. Chaucer notably used virgules to represent caesuras in his Middle English manuscripts. We still have traces of this usage in modern written English; line breaks in poetry and songs are denoted by the slash, often with a space on either side. (Learn more about the comma here.)

Slashes are commonly used to signify alternatives as in “and/or” and “his/her,” and they can also appear in place of the word “and,” as in “She’s a writer/producer/actor.” Slashes are used in abbreviations like “a/c” (account current, air conditioning),  ”w/o” (without), “w/r/t” (with respect/regard to), and “c/o” (care of, cash order, certificate of origin), and they’re also used in place of the word “per” in phrases like “50 miles/hour.” Additionally, slashes separate numbers in written English as in dates and fractions.

Further uses of the slash have developed relatively recently in the technological sphere. Every URL for every website you visit contains what we call slashes or forward slashes (/), not to be confused backslashes (\), which point in the opposite direction and are primarily used in programming languages. In fact, to distinguish the old slash (/) from the newer technical  backslash (\), the term “forward slash” entered English in the 1980s as a retronym, much in the same way that “snail mail” became a term for what was once just called “mail.”

An interesting aspect of this popular symbol is its ability to be verbalized in various ways depending on the context. You can be in a “love/hate” relationship (slash not pronounced), or you can “love-slash-hate” someone (slash pronounced). In the UK you might call this same predicament a “love-stroke-hate” situation. Some English-language writers have fun with the slash, directing their readers to say it aloud by typing out the word “slash” or “stroke” where the symbol (/) would logically belong.

Like many typographic symbols, the slash has found its very own special place in pop culture. Around the mid-1980s when computers started becoming prevalent, the term “slash fiction” emerged in English. Slash fiction is a type of fan fiction, usually appearing on online forums, that pairs two same-sex characters together in a romantic relationship. This genre got its name because oftentimes the characters featured in this sort of fan fiction are separated by a (/) symbol in the title or description of the story. Pride and Prejudice fans out there—if you click on a “Bingley/Darcy” link in a Jane Austen forum, be prepared for what you are about to read.

How do you use the slash? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.

153 Comments

  1. Brian -  September 7, 2015 - 4:04 pm

    When I’m having a slash, I don’t need an ambulance, just privacy

    Reply
  2. Ella -  July 4, 2015 - 3:34 pm

    sorry I meant :D :D :D and you have to autocorrect the smileys!

    Reply
  3. BB -  June 28, 2015 - 11:34 am

    The only writing I have done in the past 10 years is for social use. Recently I started using the slash when I upload a picture. I add credit then put a slash as a separation mark, then put my thoughts or description. What should I use here instead. Before it is said, I want more than a period.

    Reply
    • Heather -  January 6, 2016 - 10:29 am

      :

      Reply
    • Heartland87 -  November 21, 2016 - 11:28 am

      I’m not sure I understand the question or how you’re using the / in the picture uploads. Could you explain further or give an example, please?

      Reply
  4. Brony#44 -  November 24, 2014 - 3:18 pm

    stop it
    Both of me

    Reply
  5. Name -  July 30, 2014 - 8:41 am

    Aren’t virgules used to separate titles? For example:
    This Title/That Title/The Other Title

    Reply
    • John -  February 3, 2015 - 2:34 am

      A virgule is a short oblique stroke between two words. I left school well before 1960 so have never used the word slash other than to indicate a cutting action. I have always used the term oblique for this modern day reference. I was taught in geometry that oblique was a line without perpendicular or parallel, a line without right angle.

      Reply
  6. bb -  July 11, 2014 - 7:14 am

    Also used in expressing pounds/shillings/pence in pre-decimal sterling currency.

    Reply
    • John -  February 3, 2015 - 3:40 am

      Could also be written pounds///pence. Solidus, a gold coin, later referred to as a shilling was indicated by a long s which ultimately became the virgule.

      Reply
  7. Driftboy -  June 4, 2014 - 7:15 am

    It’s quite easy to use the slash/slant sign :-) so I’m prod to brag/gloat with my simple accomplishment/accolade/achievement :-D

    Twitter : @Real_Driftboy ;-)

    Reply
    • Tony -  December 7, 2014 - 2:43 am

      Agreed. Pity you can’t spell. LoL

      Reply
  8. Hali -  May 7, 2014 - 10:15 pm

    Where are your sources? How do I know your site is credible?

    Reply
    • Driftboy -  June 4, 2014 - 7:19 am

      Quit being a hot head/numb skull because its an internet site and you know its reliable and accurate at most times :-)

      Reply
      • anon -  July 7, 2014 - 9:32 am

        Your Message:
        “Quit being a hot head/numb skull because its an internet site and you know its reliable and accurate at most times :-)
        Correct message:
        “Quit being a hot head/numb skull; because it’s an internet site, you know that it’s reliable and accurate at most times. :-)”

        Unfortunately, the majority of the times, said internet won’t be correct in the least, so no, at most times you can be safe to take it all with a grain of salts. However, with this being said, this is Dictionary.com, so even taking into account the lack of bibliography, you can usually rely on this website. To be sure, you could always go to sites with the tag of ‘.org’,’.gov’,’.mil’, or really, almost any site without ‘.com’.

        Reply
    • doglover -  November 13, 2014 - 8:14 am

      You have a point

      Reply
  9. michael -  March 25, 2014 - 7:55 am

    It Seems To Me, A man Without Spend One Day In School To Learn English,You Make me very Proud That You didn’t Either.You Call This education,The Majority Of You Are Morans.

    Reply
    • anonymous -  April 9, 2014 - 1:27 pm

      Hmmm, I love your grammar and spelling.

      Reply
      • doglover -  November 13, 2014 - 8:18 am

        one word for you: idiot

        Reply
    • No Name -  August 2, 2014 - 8:02 am

      Not all words in a title have to be capitalized.

      Reply
      • Brony#44 -  November 24, 2014 - 3:20 pm

        lol noob

        Reply
    • doglover -  November 13, 2014 - 8:17 am

      HUGE grammar fail

      Reply
  10. Timothy Kramar -  November 24, 2013 - 8:45 am

    I use it in poetry.

    5/$10. It substitutes for “for”.

    Reply
    • Stephen Hammel -  December 28, 2014 - 2:25 am

      You’re using the arithmetical solidus in that context. $10/5 and 5/$10 are both fractions that reduce to 1 (although you get dollars per unit or units per dollar, depending on which is on top).

      More commonly, writers use the logical virgule to indicate words or phrases in apposition to each other.

      Both logical and arithmetical usages are mathematical. When used as a path separator (usr/bin/progname), it’s stretching it a bit, as many don’t realize nodes and networks are mathematics.

      Reply
      • B4 -  September 9, 2016 - 2:06 pm

        Well Hello Idiot But last I checked 10/5=2 and 5/10=0.5 so they don’t simplify to one

        Reply
  11. Nawab ali -  October 13, 2013 - 12:47 pm

    I like the smbol of slash//

    Reply
  12. Dr harish bapna -  September 27, 2013 - 11:15 pm

    at last how accurately you have describedslasing/////////////////////////////////////////////

    /////

    Reply
  13. sorange -  September 24, 2013 - 8:59 am

    Very appropriate because language is developing every tiem

    Reply
  14. freddy sithole -  July 4, 2013 - 11:19 pm

    thats excellent,now i really know how to use a slash

    Reply
  15. Theodosia -  June 25, 2013 - 4:55 pm

    I sometimes use slashes to identify a word or phrase that should be italicized when texting or when on a website that does not provide that option.

    Reply
  16. Seni -  June 18, 2013 - 1:54 am

    One word: slashing!

    Reply
  17. a nonny moose -  May 26, 2013 - 10:10 pm

    i’ve also seen the “/” used in chatrooms and blogs and such to end/identify a sentence as sarcastic (or snarky, or a rant, etc. etc. etc.). e.g. “that movie was just fantastic! /sarcasm.” or “i can’t believe how many stupid people live on the internet! /rant.” i believe that use evolved from the “end” marks in HTML coding.

    Reply
    • unicorn666 -  May 2, 2014 - 11:12 am

      OMG THE SLASHES ARE INVADING/////////// :hides in closet away from slashes. O.O

      Reply
      • Driftboy -  June 4, 2014 - 7:19 am

        Lol that is do dramatic though :-)

        Reply
    • unicorn666 -  May 2, 2014 - 11:13 am

      :takes sister into closet slashes into door. and keeps mouth shut:

      Reply
  18. My Name -  May 2, 2013 - 6:46 pm

    Great Article

    Reply
  19. pieter louw -  April 18, 2013 - 8:08 am

    Shows me that Engliish sybols have their roots in other laungeas.Same as Afrikaans.

    Reply
  20. Lee C -  April 15, 2013 - 12:36 pm

    I have recently seen n/o in a sentance that was obviously meant as and/or. Made perfect sense to me anyway.

    Reply
    • Driftboy -  June 4, 2014 - 7:21 am

      I still don’t get it :-(

      Reply
    • Ella -  July 4, 2015 - 3:20 pm

      it’s a sentence not a sentance

      Reply
  21. Nma Double -  April 5, 2013 - 9:12 am

    in music it means a total different thing because it is use to differenciate a musical note. like s:m:f:r / m:d:r:d:t:d. hhhhhhhh

    Reply
  22. H -  March 18, 2013 - 11:38 pm

    I write with as w/ too. I think I learnt that at school. By that, I’d say w/ is a correct substitution for with. I think its short hand.

    Reply
    • anon -  July 7, 2014 - 9:26 am

      Shorthand is a completely different writing style, as is Longhand. ‘Learnt’ that at school? It is ‘Learned’, though if you want to be sure you are grammatically correct, you should say “I think I was taught that at school,” and as for your last sentence, ‘It’s’ is the correct contraction of ‘It + Is’, not ‘Its’. Said incorrect contraction is actually a possessive term of any object called an ‘It’.

      Telle est la vie.
      -Christophe A. Mathieux

      Reply
      • jkenby -  June 26, 2015 - 5:41 am

        “Learnt” is actually the proper past tense of the word “learn.” It is (properly) used both in England and in Canada. Also, “dreamt,” pronounced like “dremt.” I don’t know if this past tense is used in other countries.

        In the States, “learned” is usually used as the past tense of “learn.”. “Learned” in most instances is prounouced like “learn-ed” with the accent on the first part.

        Reply
  23. Hannah G. Lee -  March 18, 2013 - 10:04 pm

    Oh, dear! @Talia the comments are for writing down your ideas, concerns, and questions. NOT for spamming the site with strange and confusing statements.
    Read the other comments and see what you should write. This is not funny. There are students who use this website and random messages aren’t necessary.
    Understood?
    - Hannah

    Reply
  24. Frank -  March 18, 2013 - 6:42 pm

    w/e = Whatever

    i.e. “I don’t care, whatever.” Can be said like “idc, w/e”

    Reply
    • Driftboy -  June 4, 2014 - 7:22 am

      Thats slanging not slashing! ;-)

      Reply
  25. potatoes -  March 18, 2013 - 6:14 pm

    SLASH is also for dates o3o

    Reply
  26. Geno -  March 18, 2013 - 3:37 pm

    Right or wrong, like many here, I abbreviate many multiple-syllable words with a slash, taking the lead from the well known shorthand w/o. It’s very useful in texting (where anything goes). E.g. b/f for breakfast, b/d for birthday. This works well where it makes sense such as on a birthday greeting, saying happy b/d, while other uses may serve best as just personal shortcuts, like I had b/d cake for b/f.

    Reply
  27. Ansley -  March 18, 2013 - 12:35 pm

    The word “slash” in reference to fanfiction was actually around a bit before the 1980s, from what I’ve heard. It originated from the Star Trek fandom (from Kirk/Spock, what else?). Its first usage was more in the 1970s, when the first K/S “zines” were being put out…a bit before the internet really came into the public consciousness, I think.

    (I’ve actually noticed quite a few people correcting this…although, I suppose we’re all pretending we only know this due to some sort of completely academic interest in dubious internet subcultures, and not because…well. Yeah.)

    Reply
  28. Bob -  March 18, 2013 - 9:18 am

    Nice writing. Very informative. I use the slash frequently, but often wondered if it was correct since it has been applied in so many different ways. Thanks.

    Reply
  29. Potato -  March 18, 2013 - 8:27 am

    I’m strongly in favor of removing this symbol from all writing. Why? People don’t know how to use it!! Commonly, it replaces OR, as in “Ask John/Mary”. But so many people use it as well to represent AND — and in this instance you will need to ask both — not one OR the other! It does make a difference. I’m a technical writer for and IT group and I’m constantly asking staff to use OR and AND instead of using the slash and I have to repeatedly ask what they really mean. Don’t abbreivate; be clear; write what you mean. I have even included it in my style guide but staff members continue to use it. It is really very rritating!! Another reason for how the English language gets continuously butchered.

    Reply
    • Bonzo -  April 21, 2015 - 9:30 am

      I completely agree with you, and funnily enough have also worked as a technical writer. In addition to your points, the slash often reads as if the writer is being deliberately non-committal about what they want to say, such as in phrases like “We have a proven approach/methodology to do xyz,” well, which is it; a methodology or an approach? Decide what you want to say, then say it clearly and unambiguously.

      Reply
  30. Talia Treetop -  March 17, 2013 - 10:34 pm

    Slashes are, well, INTERESTING! ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\/\/\/\\/\/\/\/\/\/////////////////////////////////////\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\/\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\/\/\/\/\/\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\///////////////////////////////////////////

    Reply
    • Driftboy -  June 4, 2014 - 7:24 am

      That was just too random Talia :-D

      Reply
    • Ella -  June 29, 2015 - 9:14 am

      lol :D

      Reply
    • Ella -  July 4, 2015 - 3:29 pm

      Lol :D \\\\/\/\/\/\\\////////////////////////////////////\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\/\/\/\//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\///////\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\///////\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

      Reply
  31. Talia Treetop -  March 17, 2013 - 10:32 pm

    GOOD MORNING WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!lolz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
    • Ella -  July 4, 2015 - 3:30 pm

      Hey Talia, the !!!!! made the page on my screen bigger :D :D :D

      Reply
  32. Talia Treetop -  March 17, 2013 - 10:30 pm

    XD

    Reply
  33. Talia Treetop -  March 17, 2013 - 10:28 pm

    Well that is so barge right there! COnfused? Ask Me!
    Thank you for watching the Bizarre Channel.
    Hope to see you soon!!
    Ba-bye!
    10 minutes later…
    HELP! HELP! I”M STUCK IN A TREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  34. joy -  March 17, 2013 - 4:09 pm

    Most importantly, Slash has awesome hair and knows how to wail on the guitar.

    Reply
  35. Carlos -  March 17, 2013 - 12:28 pm

    Hey Pretty Interesting Topic I Did Not Know All Of This About The Slash .

    Reply
  36. K/A -  March 17, 2013 - 12:24 pm

    yes you forgot b/c (because) as an example

    Reply
  37. sherb -  March 17, 2013 - 10:39 am

    aaahh!! the shiney! it burns!!

    Reply
  38. sherb -  March 17, 2013 - 10:38 am

    ooooooohhhh… shiny…

    Reply
  39. jonocreatesstuff -  March 16, 2013 - 7:34 pm

    i love this site/ these articles/these comments. im out/cant compete.
    webranger/priceless.

    Reply
  40. That guy -  March 16, 2013 - 5:46 pm

    w/ is also used for just with. But this is awesome :D

    Reply
  41. brian sinclair -  March 16, 2013 - 4:04 pm

    Afnan Linjawi

    Using a double slash // writing in arabic to denote repetition of the above is like using double, smaller slashes ” to indicate the same thing.

    They are called “quotation marks,”or “ditto marks.”

    Reply
  42. Woody -  March 16, 2013 - 12:28 pm

    It sounds like Afnan Linjawi comment about the // meaning to repeat the previous line, is similar to the use of ” to denote ditto, or repeate the previous item.

    Reply
  43. Splash -  March 16, 2013 - 12:26 pm

    I have always used slashes in numeric dates; i.e., today is 3/16/13.

    Reply
    • John -  February 3, 2015 - 4:02 am

      Don’t you mean 16/03/13?

      Reply
      • B4 -  September 9, 2016 - 2:14 pm

        He wasn’t using European Dating System John Sorry but I would’ve wrote Same Exact Thing

        Reply
  44. Dr. Jon Masso -  March 16, 2013 - 10:41 am

    I’ve been on a campaign in my institution to get people to stop using the slash in any formal document because it is often totally ambiguous. Generally it is used to mean “and” or “or” and thus it leaves great uncertainty e.g. the form must be signed by your supervisor/human resource manager. Does it mean both must sign it (and) or does it mean one or the other (or). Of course some of the confusion lies in the fact that “or” can be “exclusive or” (one or the other but not both) or the “inclusive or” (one or the other or both).

    Reply
  45. Armin 2@fm -  March 16, 2013 - 4:56 am

    Very good

    Reply
  46. Toha -  March 16, 2013 - 3:26 am

    Interestingly, we, Uzbeks, also use the French word “virgule” (vergul) to mean ‘comma’…

    Reply
  47. Mike Logan -  March 16, 2013 - 1:49 am

    Apologies for being verbose, but this little “mark” is also one of the only known written symbols that can produce a slight, but distinct, movement of the head or eyebrows when reading the text in which it is included.

    If you saw “his or her” in the text, you’d read through it without any bodily inflection. However – and you can try this at home – if you see “his/her” in the text, you may not notice it, but you may physically move your head, however slightly, left-to-right, in a lateral or, more often, very small arc.

    Fascinating.

    Reply
  48. Mike Logan -  March 16, 2013 - 1:30 am

    Strange that the word “oblique” (as I was taught) is not mentioned as a name for this piece of punctuation. My English Teacher refused to accept it as a valid form of punctuation and said using it was an abbreviation for lazy people.

    As for “forward slash” or “back slash” it depends on whether you are looking at it, writing it and whether you are right or left handed.

    The predominant writing and reading is from left to right, and a right-handed person would normally produce this symbols starting at the top and scribing it backwards to the left, thus making it is a “back slash.” That would, logically, make a written “back slash” a forward one. However, it depends on how you “look” at it the finished product of course.

    Reply
  49. RKZ -  March 15, 2013 - 2:44 pm

    I am a professional editor of scientistific and engineering documents. I come across many a misused slash in this endeavor! Many authors always use “and/or”–even when they actually mean one or the other. The slash is often used to replace the “and” or the “or” as in sit/stand or fish/birds when it isn’t really appropiate. Looks like the scientific community LOVES the slash–I’m starting to believe they think it’s cool.

    Thanks for the info and the proof–now I have a reference to show to the author who wants to discuss/argue the point.

    Reply
  50. Jon -  March 15, 2013 - 10:40 am

    I don’t know whether to use either slash/stroke,

    I mean, would it be slash-slash-stroke…

    or

    Slash-stroke-stroke?

    Either/or?

    Reply
  51. annumat -  March 15, 2013 - 8:48 am

    In India, (i’m not sure about other places) we sometimes read it as ‘bar’.

    This is mostly seen in addresses for eg: Xlll / 856 is read as “Twenty three bar 8-5-6″

    Btw, thanks for your informative article

    Reply
    • John -  February 3, 2015 - 4:07 am

      XIII is thirteen not twenty three

      Reply
      • Ella -  July 4, 2015 - 3:27 pm

        Yeah, 23 is XXIII

        Reply
  52. RLF -  March 15, 2013 - 7:37 am

    I learned of the ‘slash’ in highschool learning how to take short hand.

    Reply
  53. Lisa -  March 15, 2013 - 4:40 am

    liber/folio 1234/567

    Reply
  54. Stephen I. Mayo -  March 15, 2013 - 3:56 am

    The entry seems to sanction the use of the slash without spaces between the paired subjects, except when used as a “caesura” in poetry. Is this the rule?

    Reply
  55. Izhar zain -  March 14, 2013 - 11:28 pm

    It was a great description on Slash, It’s very nice.

    Reply
  56. Ketan -  March 14, 2013 - 9:08 pm

    Quite informative.

    Reply
  57. Michael -  March 14, 2013 - 6:14 pm

    Please cite your sources!!! Would love to see sources associated with this great article.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  58. Igomi Watabi -  March 14, 2013 - 4:11 pm

    Love JB’s G’n'R reference!

    Reply
  59. Igomi Watabi -  March 14, 2013 - 4:08 pm

    This has, of course, led to the wonderful labelling of a singer/dancer/actor as a “Slashie”

    Reply
  60. Louise -  March 14, 2013 - 7:03 am

    b/w = between. This has been an ongoing argument at my place of work, but I feel strongly that it’s correct, quick & useful. :)

    Reply
  61. FF -  March 14, 2013 - 6:13 am

    Slash fanfic

    Reply
  62. Chandrakant Marathe -  March 14, 2013 - 1:33 am

    It is also used along with hyphen ( /- ) to denote ‘by order’ at the end of notice. It is also used to delimit the digits when the amout in rupees is mentioned e.g. Rs.50/-

    Reply
  63. Nidnat Mystedin -  March 14, 2013 - 12:12 am

    It adds new petal to my blossom of knowledge.
    And We also it in mathematics for division sign; in writing phonetic symbols.
    Thank you guys.

    Reply
  64. lobsang lama -  March 13, 2013 - 11:10 pm

    nice i like it and thank u…

    Reply
  65. Vora Anshuman -  March 13, 2013 - 10:24 pm

    / is just : ‘ I (when) s/oshed ‘.

    Or, plain : ‘ /azy ‘ !

    b f o / ( that’s : bent fwd /aughing ! )

    Anshuman Vora . Mumbai .
    ( Not inc/ined, hence re/axing… )

    Reply
  66. Barbara C. -  March 13, 2013 - 9:59 pm

    I use the slash quite often when I’m writing notes w/a pen and paper. Writing w/o a slash would really slow me down.

    Reply
  67. aakash -  March 13, 2013 - 8:58 pm

    we don’t need you to tell us how to use a slash; we can use it anyway we want to as long as the intended audience or whoever will read your message or etc, will be able to derive the meaning. people are in charge of connotation, not you or some centralized entity.

    Reply
  68. joe -  March 13, 2013 - 7:49 pm

    s/he-male

    Reply
  69. AnWulf -  March 13, 2013 - 7:18 pm

    —The word slash first entered English in the late 14th century as a verb to describe the cutting movement of a weapon, a word derived from the Middle French esclachier, meaning “to break.” —

    Maybe … that isn’t a known. The Oxford Dict. Online says “perhaps”:

    The word slash first entered English in the late 14th century as a verb to describe the cutting movement of a weapon, a word derived from the Middle French esclachier, meaning “to break.”

    Reply
  70. Matt B -  March 13, 2013 - 3:07 pm

    I have to point out how awful it is that the slash is used to mean “and” a lot these days. E.g. it should be “actor-director”, not “actor/director”, because the person is both, not just one or the other. If you want to indicate “and” with one character, there’s the ampersand: &.

    I agree with Ol’ Jas. Things like “Nip/Tuck” use the slash for absolutely no purpose. Pronouncing the slash or not, it sounds ridiculous.

    Webranger, slash vs. stroke was brilliant.

    Reply
  71. Barbara -  March 13, 2013 - 8:59 am

    Great!!! learned alot, I have wonder about this, now I have new ways of using it and it is right before i did not know for sure.

    Reply
  72. Ol' Jas -  March 13, 2013 - 8:23 am

    Oops. Sloppy paraphrasing to Bholland. I should have written “You said slashes seldom add any confusion.”

    Reply
  73. Ol' Jas -  March 13, 2013 - 8:22 am

    Two things:

    Bholland: You said slashes seldom do they add any confusion. I feel exactly the opposite. Too often, the relationship hinted at in the slash is unclear. I typically see people use the slash at work when they’re not sure what the relationship is themselves, and they hide behind a vague slash. Or it’s just lazy, unclear writing. Examples:
    “You should remove/delete that record.” (Which one?)
    “Look up the patient with his name/ID.” (Does that mean pick one or use both?)
    “If a truck arrives with dirt/gravel, make sure the driver weighs/registers.” (So if he has dirt OR gravel, make sure he weighs AND registers?)

    Parker: The guy’s name is “Gandalf.” And the name is originally Norse. Tolkien pulled it from the Catalogue of Dwarves (in the Völuspá). Cheers!

    Reply
  74. ES -  March 13, 2013 - 7:16 am

    I too wonder if I am using the w/ correctly to mean “with.” I would appreciate it if anyone knows if this is correct usage. Great stuff!

    Reply
  75. Rachel -  March 12, 2013 - 8:56 pm

    How about slash movies? They’re also referred to as “slasher” movies, but are accepted as “slash flicks” as well.

    Reply
  76. Aleta -  March 12, 2013 - 7:30 pm

    This was an interesting article about the slash for me. I learned a lot of information I had no idea about before. Thank you dictionary.com!

    Reply
  77. Pidgeon -  March 12, 2013 - 6:58 pm

    @ Scarlet R
    It’s Yaoi, not Yoai. It’s an acronym for ‘Yama nashi, ochi nashi, imi nashi’ (No peak/climax, no punch line, no meaning). The term slash for fanfic is still predominately used for Western products, while fans of Japanese culture are more predisposed to use Yaoi. These terms are actually very complex, and ‘Yaoi’ isn’t as commonly used in Japan as people may think. Also, for fanfic, if you use Yaoi or Yuri, it implies that there is explicit sexual content, not just that a gay romance is taking place.

    Reply
  78. Ice cream -  March 12, 2013 - 4:51 pm

    I like this article, and by the way, interesting fact Afnan Linjawi.

    Reply
  79. fanfictionfan -  March 12, 2013 - 12:31 pm

    Around the mid-1980s when computers started becoming prevalent, the term “slash fiction” emerged in English. Slash fiction is a type of fan fiction, usually appearing on online forums, that pairs two same-sex characters together in a romantic relationship.

    Not quite. The term “slash-fiction” has been around (and popular among fan fiction writers/readers) since at least the seventies: http://fanlore.org/wiki/Slash. And began spreading via the word of photocopied fan-produced ‘zines, well before computers had become the most common medium for sharing fan fiction.

    Reply
  80. Paula M. -  March 12, 2013 - 12:18 pm

    Enjoyed the article AND the comments. Would greatly appreciate same treatment of hyphen/dash.

    Reply
  81. Mike -  March 12, 2013 - 12:05 pm

    guns/roses is nothing w/o the /

    Reply
  82. David -  March 12, 2013 - 8:14 am

    Afnan (comment on on March 8, 2013 at 3:46 pm),

    Interesting comment on the uses of slashes for “duplicating” content! I am a native Spanish speaker and we do use the same technique… But using the “ditto mark” (similar to slash, but not quite) or simply double quotes (as in “) for the same purpose.

    Are you sure it is slashes you use in arabic? I ask because I know how influential arab culture has been on Spain and vice versa… Are we indeed using different characters for the same purpose? Check the Ditto Mark and its uses here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ditto_mark

    Reply
  83. Ju Gross -  March 12, 2013 - 6:37 am

    Perfect! Just loved it, Hot Word!

    Reply
  84. shirley whiddon -  March 12, 2013 - 6:20 am

    I don’t remember when I started using the /, or why I started putting W/, to shorten the word with. I think it must have been something I learned in English class. If I am wrong for using the W/ to shorten the word, please let me know and I will quit using it that way. I use it so I can put more letters with another word when I need the extra space for another word. If I am correct in using W/ to shorten the word, could you tell me if, or where I could have gotten it, could it have been while I was taking English classes.

    Reply
  85. Parker -  March 12, 2013 - 6:10 am

    I have often thought that virgule is composed of two Latin words that can be translated as a man’s staff, as in walking stick. A “/” looks like one. Additionally, the wizard Gandolph might come from the Old English verb gangan, to walk or wander, and –dolph meaning something like walking staff. So Gandolph is the wizard who wanders Middle Earth aided by the use of his rod.

    Reply
  86. Brijesh -  March 12, 2013 - 3:48 am

    Afnan Linjawi on March 8, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Read more at http://hotword.dictionary.com/slash/#PucPTumSbAf6dBYv.99

    Mr Afnan, what you are referring to is called a “ditto” sign represented by inverted commas – like ” but placed slightly in the middle of the writing sentence.

    Reply
  87. Pravin -  March 12, 2013 - 3:23 am

    I had no idea its called a “virgule”! Great facts on the versatile “/”.

    Reply
  88. Scarlet R -  March 12, 2013 - 2:23 am

    Now ‘Slash fiction’ is getting replaced with two new terms on teenage fanfiction sites – Yoai/Yuri. Yoai is for gay male fanfics and Yuri is lesbian fiction. The terms come from Japan as it’s a genre of book over there.

    Reply
  89. Nate Wolfe -  March 11, 2013 - 1:15 pm

    It is also used in command line operations in UNIX and Linux operating systems to signify directories. cd / will take you to the root directory. A typical file may be located in /usr/bin/drinking/

    Reply
  90. M. Maher -  March 11, 2013 - 9:15 am

    Well done! Keep up the great/excellent work!!

    Reply
  91. Cyberquill -  March 11, 2013 - 8:20 am

    I can’t take it anymore, so I am slashing my wri/sts.

    Reply
  92. svenjamin -  March 11, 2013 - 8:00 am

    Also, the slash is 1/2 of an ‘X’.

    Reply
  93. svenjamin -  March 11, 2013 - 7:56 am

    I use it to denote that I or one of my cohorts have bowled a spare! Also, I use it to symbolize that mathematical division needs to occur; it can be directly translated to: ‘divided by’, or ‘per’.

    Reply
  94. J B -  March 11, 2013 - 7:33 am

    Or as in …. Axl, Izzy, Duff, Steve and /

    Reply
  95. Rick -  March 11, 2013 - 6:37 am

    I always thought the virgule was the same as the “backslash” versus the slash.

    Reply
  96. Glen -  March 10, 2013 - 7:05 pm

    Great explanation, guys. I wonder if I could see similar take-off on the dash (-)?

    Reply
  97. Jamie -  March 10, 2013 - 3:08 pm

    This may require some investigation. In films and media the slash is used as an device in the depictions of morse code where the operator on the receiving end would after receiving each letter would then split the message into words. Was it called a slash then?

    Reply
  98. steevy -  March 10, 2013 - 3:02 pm

    that’s good!

    Reply
  99. John Fannon -  March 10, 2013 - 9:46 am

    I recall in the dim and distant past being introduced to Latin poetry and having to put a caesura to break the line of a poem into two parts. We used a double slash to denote the caesura.

    Reply
  100. Brad -  March 10, 2013 - 6:32 am

    Love it as always.

    Reply
  101. orson bacchus -  March 9, 2013 - 7:24 pm

    Infomative•

    Reply
  102. David -  March 9, 2013 - 4:44 pm

    It’s also called an oblique

    Reply
  103. TheAdmiral -  March 9, 2013 - 10:49 am

    The slash is also used in math to represent division.

    In your example miles per gallon, you determine miles/gallon by dividing gallons into miles. For example, if you go 100 miles and used 5 gallons; 5 is divided into 100 to determine 20 miles per gallon.

    100 miles/5 gallons = 20 miles/gallon.

    piece of cake.

    Reply
  104. TheAdmiral -  March 9, 2013 - 10:44 am

    The slash is also used in math, representing division.

    It is related to your miles per gallon or miles/gallon example. The way you determine miles per gallon is divide gallons into miles. For example, if you used 5 gallons to go 100 miles that would 20 miles per gallon or:

    100 miles/5 gallons = 20 miles/gallon.

    Piece of cake.

    Reply
  105. marina Karapetyan -  March 9, 2013 - 12:06 am

    Very informative and useful especially for non-native speakers like I am.
    Thanks a lot.

    Reply
  106. kc guerrero -  March 8, 2013 - 7:08 pm

    Backslash is too technical for my new pen name. LOL, solidus must be more solid than virgule which you-stroke-I must confuse to a comma w/c is its French origin. I was using this often in or/and for my checks. Very helpful when you forget/lost your I.D. I’m a slalsh fan forever. He he he.

    Reply
  107. Afnan Linjawi -  March 8, 2013 - 3:46 pm

    This might be interesting to some of you!

    In Arabic, the slash is not really integrated in the written language. But we do use it to indicate that a sentence is repeated as above. E.x:

    A: السلام عليكم
    B: //

    A: How are you?

    B: Good, and //

    It’s used a lot in drafting for reports where the status of a field in a table is repeated. Instead of repeating the whole word just put a (//).

    It’s used by teachers on the board when giving a lecture. Students will copy the board, writing the actual sentence in place of the (//). Because their notes are more important than the text on the board.

    Reply
    • unicorn666 -  May 2, 2014 - 11:15 am

      \\Cool you speak Arabic? I’m trying to learn Arabic but I find it kind of hard//

      Reply
  108. bholland -  March 8, 2013 - 3:24 pm

    Unlike other abbreviation methods, slashes actually simplify life. Seldom do they add any confusion.

    Reply
  109. Newtham -  March 8, 2013 - 12:47 pm

    It is also used for division when typing out a mathematical equation (“10/5=2″). How long has that been the case?

    Reply
  110. Webranger -  March 8, 2013 - 11:22 am

    This confusion of usages of good English words can have disastrous effects. There’s a whole world of difference between “He’s having a slash” and “He’s having a stroke.”

    You have to call the ambulance to the correct one – it’s a life/death decision.

    Reply
  111. Mark -  March 8, 2013 - 11:19 am

    And since the advent of MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System), there arrived the Back Slash, which begat the Forward Slash (the subject of this fine article), a new name given only to not confuse the two. Wonderful.

    Reply
  112. Judith Soriano -  March 8, 2013 - 6:23 am

    Wonderful article on the virgule (my name for this fascinating punctuation mark from here on out).

    Reply
  113. a.gopalakrishnan -  March 8, 2013 - 3:50 am

    SLASH useage is well understand good job

    Reply
  114. cc -  March 7, 2013 - 4:26 pm

    i like

    Reply
  115. SLASH | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  March 7, 2013 - 6:12 am

    [...] ‘SLASH’ forward and/or backward or playing in a RockNRoll Band — Different Strokes for different folks — Retronym or some other brand. — And How do you KNOW someone’s comments? — Is it Biblical or otherwise Bland? –>>L.T.Rhyme This entry was posted in DICTCOMHOTWORD, L.T.Rhyme and tagged LT, LTRhyme, the HOT WORD on March 7, 2013 by LTRhyme. [...]

    Reply
  116. gowshiga -  March 7, 2013 - 4:54 am

    excellent facts about slash …nice guys

    Reply

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