In our international (TypeScript) developer team, we have often problems in the communication; in the worst case, everyone understands something else. Therefore I would unmistakable know, how should we call each of the followings signs/letters/special characters (what is their common name?).

(    opening brace or parenthesis or round bracket ?
)    closing brace or parenthesis or round bracket ?
[    opening square bracket or opening bracket?
]    closing square bracket or closing bracket?
{    opening curved bracket 
     or sometimes opening brace, curly bracket, curly brace ?
}    closing curved bracket 
     or sometimes closing brace, curly bracket, curly brace ?
<    opening angle bracket, opening chevron ?
>    closing angle bracket, closing chevron ?
|    pipe
"    double quotes
'    single quotes
:    colon
;    semicolon
!    call sign or exclamation mark ?
^    caret ?
°    degree sign?
#    dash?
`    back tick, gravis, grave ?
´    tick, acute ?
§    section sign
-    dash
_    under line ?
~    tilde

My aim is to use a common (generally accepted, clear) wording for these signs and to suppress misunderstandings and opinion based usages.

Example: From now on we well call { as opening curly brace, forget all other descriptions.

By this way, I want to be sure, that "opening curly brace" would be the most correct usage?

  • 2
    Why not standardize on the Unicode name for these characters? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 1 '16 at 21:12
  • 3
    This is really an opinion-based question and off-topic here. You might want to consider using some existing standard such as the Unicode symbol names. – Mick Nov 1 '16 at 21:12
  • 4
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because there is no such thing in English as a de jure "standard" governing the names for typographic characters. If you're a programming shop, use the Unicode codepoint to clarify, why dontcha? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 1 '16 at 21:17
  • 1
    Ditto. Just use the Unicode names. Why? Because "opening curly brace" is not curly: it's just a brace. The "square bracket" is not square: it's just a bracket. The "round bracket" is neither round nor a bracket: it's a parenthesis. And so will go the endless colloquies. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Nov 1 '16 at 21:30
  • 1
    I've given you some helpful advice: use the Unicode codepoint and the Unicode name. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 1 '16 at 21:30

You are asking for English-language computer programming jargon. The best source for such jargon is The New Hacker's Dictionary, as edited by Eric S. Raymond. The ASCII entry covers most of the symbols you asked about.

In general, you should use names that are short and clear. For the characters you asked about, you can omit the "ing" word ending. You can shorten "parenthesis" to "paren", and shorten "semicolon" to "sem". Square brackets are common enough that the word "square" can be omitted. The word "curly" is rare enough (in programming) that "curly bracket" can be shortened to "curly".

Some of these symbols have multiple meanings, depending on the context. Microsoft calls "C#" "C Sharp". But "#" can also mean "pound" (the weight, not the currency), "hash", or "number". In most computer programming languages, the angle brackets "<" and ">" are the same characters as the "less than" and "greater than" characters.

Typographers use several kinds of "dash". That is why Unicode has distinct characters for "minus" signs, "hyphens", "n-dashes", and "m-dashes". But in the ordinary source code of most computer programming languages, you use one hyphen to represent a "minus" sign or "hyphen" or "n-dash", and two hyphens "--" instead of an m-dash.

A few of the names below are a bit weird. A "caret" looks like a "hat", and "hat" is shorter than "caret". (It also looks like a "circumflex accent", which is used like a "hat" over many letters and unit vector names.) The "not" symbol is also the exclamation mark "!", so it somehow got the name "bang". Many American programmers pronounce the "tilde" character as "twiddle".

(    open paren
)    close paren
[    open bracket  or open square bracket
]    close bracket or close square bracket
{    open curly    or open curly bracket
}    close curly   or close curly bracket
<    open angle    or open angle bracket   or less than
>    close angle   or close angle bracket  or greater than
|    pipe
"    double quote
'    single quote
:    colon
;    sem     or semicolon
!    bang    or not
^    hat     or caret
°    degree  or degrees or degree sign
#    pound   or number  or sharp  or hash sign
`    back tick
´    tick
§    section sign
-    hyphen  or minus
_    underline
~    twiddle or tilde
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  • 1
    William Safire wrote a 1991 column about many of these names. He referenced an earlier draft of The Hacker's Dictionary, and talked to two hackers at an MIT spin-off company. The column's title should have a whack or backslash ("\") instead of a second forward slash ("/"). – Jasper Nov 1 '16 at 23:24
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    Bang for ! is in fact printers' slang and pre-dates computer use by centuries. It's nice that it lives on. – Jon Hanna Jan 7 '17 at 17:43

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