I'm reading this online material about Python, a programming language, and I can't understand a paragraph in it. Please don't worry if you don't know what Python is, because I believe this very quotation has nothing to do with coding:

Q: Are you sure # is called the pound character?

A: I call it the octothorpe because that is the only name that no country uses and that works in every country. Every country thinks its name for this one character is both the most important way to do it and the only way it's done. To me this is simply arrogance and, really, y'all should just chill out and focus on more important things like learning to code.

My question is: What does the author mean by saying "that is the only name that no country uses and that works in every country"?

  • Perhaps you have seen this: What Is the Real Name of the #? It does not answer your question, but provides readers some insight on the different names, including octothorp(e), which I had never heard before. Jul 18, 2016 at 5:09

1 Answer 1


One of the names of this symbol # is the pound sign. It has other names like number sign, hashtag, octothorpe. By country, the speaker does not mean the actual country, but the people of that country. So this is the only name "no country uses" means that this is the only name that people of any country do not use. This is an exaggeration. It might not be the only one, and there are probably some people, like him, around the world that call it an octothorpe.

"Works in every country" implies that people in different countries can understand what he means (or what he is referring to) when he says "octothorpe". Of course, he is probably only talking about people who use # in coding, because I doubt the average person in any country knows what an "octothorpe" is. And if you didn't know, well you could just look it up, which also "works in every country".

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