The thing a blue arrow points at is called a "checkbox", right? What do you call the round elements, the ones that look like bullet points?

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    A software developer might call those things radio buttons but I do not think that term is used by the general populace. To my knowledge there is no generally understood term for radio button.
    – EllieK
    Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 17:12
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    I call them that, and I'm a software user. Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 17:20
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    Our office uses software which includes radio buttons, and that is what the training documents call them. If an ordinary person can know what a check box is, why not a radio button? Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 17:33
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    Wikipedia: Radio Button: "A radio button or option button is a graphical control element that allows the user to choose only one of a predefined set of mutually exclusive options." Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 10:17
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    Why would you need to call them anything other than "check buttons" or "radio buttons"? Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 22:01

2 Answers 2


The round item you have indicated is a radio button

radio button



​(on a computer screen) a small circle that you click on in order to make a particular choice. The radio button is then marked with a dot (= a small round mark) to show that it has been selected.

Radio button (Oxford Learner's Dictionaries)

The difference between checkboxes and radio buttons is that you can check more than one checkbox in a group of checkboxes, but select only one radio button in a group of radio buttons.

The name comes from old-fashioned radios and TVs with buttons (round or not) which could be tuned to different radio stations or TV channels. If one button was already pressed in, and you pressed a different one, the first button popped out, and the second one stayed pressed in.

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Note: Although British English speakers are familiar with, and use, 'check', many call this symbol a 'tick', so we may say we 'tick' or 'untick' 'tick boxes'. Interestingly, this UK illustration for an article about 'tickboxes' shows a sheet headed 'checklist':

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  • 1
    I live in Australia and have never heard the word 'radio button'. I do not doubt that it's the correct term, but I don't know how much luck you'll have using it in conversation Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 6:09
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – gotube
    Commented Oct 27, 2022 at 15:56
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    "Interestingly, this UK illustration for an article about 'tickboxes' shows a sheet headed 'checklist'" - because it's a list of items to "check", not simply to "tick". Different meaning to the "check" in "checkbox". It might as well have been called a "To-do list" or "Task list".
    – MrWhite
    Commented Oct 27, 2022 at 18:00
  • @MrWhite - or, as they call them in my legal services office, where they form a part of some workflows, 'tick lists'. Commented Oct 27, 2022 at 18:42
  • waited for 30 years for this explanantion
    – Sascha
    Commented Oct 27, 2022 at 21:10


If you can check more than one, it's a checkbox. If you can only check one, it's a radio button.

I just wanted to note that if we're talking about software terms, the name denotes the functionality, not the appearance. Radio buttons are where you can only select one of a choice of entries. Selecting a different entry unselects your previous choice. If you made them look like squares, and made selecting it put a check in the square, it would still be a radio button because that's the functionality being used.

Similarly, if you made a selection of circles and filling in the circle selected the item and you could select multiple circles, then the functionality still defines it as a checkbox even though you've made it look like radio buttons.

Outside of software:

e.g., in a Scantron form, the term used is usually "bubbles". Fill in the bubble.

  • Good secondary info.
    – trlkly
    Commented Oct 26, 2022 at 8:02
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    Check the interface guides for Windows and Mac and you will get the names for everything that has ever appeared in a computer UI. BTW, Windows previously called these "option buttons" to be different from the Mac OS "radio buttons"
    – user8356
    Commented Oct 26, 2022 at 14:24
  • I think bubble will be way less known than radio button.
    – minseong
    Commented Oct 27, 2022 at 23:47
  • "If you can only check one, it's a radio button." Agreed, it comes from the design of radios and similar devices with a row of buttons, typically for use in selecting the programme source. For example LW, MW, SW, Phono, Aux. Since you can only listen to one at a time, press one button down and all the others pop up. Commented Oct 30, 2022 at 12:57

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