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How would you say extremes of the word or edges of the word or characters at the end and at the beginning of the word (I don't know which one is correct, if any) using adjectives of qualification?

By extremes or edges of the word I mean, supposing the word is hello, the extremes would be h and o, but if I have another expression %123awe&, the extremes would be % and &.

It would be nice if we could refer to those letters as extreme letters or extreme digits or edged digits. Is one of this correct? Which alternatives do I have?

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    'First' and 'last letters' are the usual designations. – StoneyB Jan 22 '15 at 17:53
  • I would just use first/last letter(s) or beginning/ending letter(s). Have never heard "extreme" used this way though. – user3169 Jan 22 '15 at 17:54
  • @StoneyB But I want to refer more in general to the digits at the end and at the beginning at the same time... – nbro Jan 22 '15 at 17:55
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    @Rinzler "First and last letters" – StoneyB Jan 22 '15 at 17:58
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    Or "first and last character", especially if you are a programmer and are refering to a string. – Stephie Jan 22 '15 at 18:19
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In programming, specifically regular expressions, those are referred to as word boundaries, but that's not understood in general English.

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I don't think there's a good word for this that everyone would recognize. If you want to use a shorter phrase, you should define it first:

First, we need to look at the first and last characters in the word. Let's call these "edge characters" for short.

Depending on what you're talking about, "bounding characters" could also be a good choice.

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