I searched ~ spelling and ~ symbol spelling on Google but found nothing. My dictionary doesn't contain ~ either.

P.S.: is there any online dictionary that can translate symbols? I find I know almost nothing about the symbols. Even in my native language, I say /\ or something else tilted stick. I don't know which is slash, and which is backslash.

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    If it makes you feel any better, a lot of Americans don't seem to know which one is slash and which one is backslash either! I hear people get it wrong all the time. (Slash is /. It's the one that's more natural for a right-handed person to make.)
    – stangdon
    Jan 6, 2017 at 12:45
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    If it helps, in the UK at least we call / forward slash. and \ back slash. This is easier to remember as you just look for the slash that is leaning forwards or backwards.
    – squarefrog
    Jan 6, 2017 at 12:49
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    Actually it's very easy to find out by yourself: just describe the character, don't type it: curvy dash was my very first attempt at this, and the first search result gave me the answer.
    – Ruslan
    Jan 6, 2017 at 14:18
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    To make things even more complicated, there is more than one kind of "slash." At least 3 different symbols were condensed into the single slash character (back in the days of manual typewriters, where the number of keys had to be limited.) See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slash_(punctuation). In these days of Unicode and electronic publishing, pedants (like me) will notice incorrect usage. So I applaud the OP's curiosity. Jan 6, 2017 at 16:32
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    to search it use a symbol search engine like symbolhound.com, or better use unicodelookup.com/#~/1 or any Unicode name searching tool to find its name
    – phuclv
    Jan 7, 2017 at 8:41

2 Answers 2


I believe the symbol is known as a tilde


The Punctuation Guide is a good source of information for English punctuation and its usage, including what each symbol is called (though in this case it doesn't mention the tilde).

Typing the actual symbol into Google or Wikipedia also yields an accurate result.


If you type a punctuation symbol into Wikipedia (such as tilde, above) it also returns a comprehensive list of other punctuation symbols, spellings, plus links to more detailed information on the right hand side of the page.

  • Thank you very much ! I didn't search the symbol alone on google , this is a very useful information ! And that Punctuation Guide is very helpful too, really help me a lot.
    – Mithril
    Jan 6, 2017 at 11:34
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    Given that the question is also tagged reading-aloud it's worth noting that tilde is pronounced "till-da" and not "till-dee"
    – Ben Sutton
    Jan 6, 2017 at 21:19
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    What about "squiggle"?
    – Dronz
    Jan 6, 2017 at 21:39
  • @Mithril The google search just ignores most punctuation (for example, ng-trx is the same as ng trx). As such, it is not a good tool to search about glyphs themselves!
    – Zachiel
    Jan 6, 2017 at 22:15
  • @Zachiel: If you use the punctuation in a word or sentence, yes, it parses it as part of the word (or search - '-' can be used to instruct the search to ignore certain words for example). However if you type the punctuation mark into Google on its own, it does indeed return a valid response.
    – mike
    Jan 7, 2017 at 1:40

The formal name for ~ is tilde.

Many programmers call it twiddle.

A slash or forward slash is /. If north is at the top of the page, it points southwest-to-northeast. It is tilted the same way that most right-handed people slant their writing, so it has a "forward" slant. Standard American keyboards have ? as Shift-/.

A whack or backslash is \. If north is at the top of the page, it points northwest-to-southeast. Standard American keyboards have | as Shift-\.

See also "What do programmers call these punctuation marks? (Parentheses, brackets, ticks, etc.)"

The ASCII entry in The New Hacker's Dictionary, as edited by Eric S. Raymond, includes English-language computer programming names for many common symbols.

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    A little color on why programmers sometimes call a tilde a twiddle. The ~ symbol is one of several bitwise operators. Programmers use bitwise operators to perform bit manipulation or colloquially, bit twiddling. Jan 7, 2017 at 4:14
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    I'm not disputing programmers call the tilde a "twiddle" somewhere, but where? I've been programming about 15 years and this is the first time I've ever heard that :p. (Also never heard of bit twiddling, just bit manipulation) (The linked site seems sort of rediculous to me so if there's a joke I'm not getting I apologise!) Jan 7, 2017 at 16:22
  • @redstarcoder -- The New Hacker's Dictionary contains common programming jargon and in-jokes, especially from the first twenty years of the Arpanet/Internet. It was heavily influenced by the terms used at Stanford, Berkeley, Carnegie-Mellon, and MIT. I know that "twiddle" was how MIT hackers referred to "~" during the 1990s.
    – Jasper
    Jan 7, 2017 at 19:36
  • I would say the jargon in that dictionary was common maybe 27 years ago (based on movies and stereotypes I know), but certainly not today. Thanks for the background though! Jan 7, 2017 at 21:14
  • It's still certainly in use, though now as much because it's in the jargon file than the other way around.
    – Jon Hanna
    Jan 8, 2017 at 22:50

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