There are 12 characters on a standard computer keyboard layout (as in QWERTY) that a lot of people get wrong as far as what to call them. And it is pretty much guaranteed that every person that reads this has probably been calling at least half of this list by wrong names for years.

And here they are:


Open and Close Brace

There are [brackets] and then there are {braces}. Most people mistakenly call the brace a bracket. Oftentimes most will just call them “curly brackets”. Good enough, I suppose, but they are called braces.



Often called “dash” or “minus sign”, the proper name for this is hyphen.

You will be amazed at how much people will understand you better in spoken word (such as over the phone) when you refer to this character as a hyphen. If you say “minus sign” or “dash”, people will screw it up from time to time. Use “hyphen” on the other hand, and the likelihood of someone understanding what you’re saying increases dramatically.



Most people just call this “SHIFT-minus” or sometimes “long dash”. Incorrect. It’s called an underscore.



This character is almost universally called the “squiggly”. Incorrect. It’s called a tilde, which is correctly pronounced as “till-deh” or “till-dee”. The incorrect pronunciation is the monosyllabic “tild”.



This is the character generated by pressing SHIFT and backslash. Almost nobody remembers that this is called a pipe.



Many, many people incorrectly call this a forward slash or just slash. In fact, so many people get it wrong that IE, Firefox and Chrome were all reprogrammed to accept this incorrect character when typing out web addresses. For example, if you typed out the grossly incorrect syntax of http:\\ as an address in a modern web browser, it will in fact work and load the site properly. You’ll notice the browser will instantly correct and convert the incorrect backslashes to the proper forward slashes.

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No, not “double quote”. Just quote. Calling it a quotation mark is also acceptable, but NOT quotation marks as it is just a single instance of it.

In spoken word, you will not hear this said as “double quote”. Ever. It is always stated as quote and nothing more save for “close quote” or “end quote” at the tail.

To be more specific when said out loud:

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, quote, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, close quote.

…and would never be said as:

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, double quote, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, close double quote.



…and this is the one people usually mistakenly call quote when in fact it’s an apostrophe.

Think about it. If you were to spell Joe’s Garage in spoken word, you wouldn’t say “J O E quote S G A R A G E” now, would you? Of course not. You would say apostrophe and not quote.


Back Quote

This is the character generated by pressing SHIFT and the tilde key. Most people call this a quote or single quote, but it’s actually called a back quote. Alternatively, this can be called an acute, grave or grave accent. The one that sticks in most people’s minds is when you call it a grave accent.



Commonly referred to as “tic-tac-toe sign”, “pound” or “hash”, the proper name for this character is octothorpe.

Pound, while incorrect, is so commonly used that it’s more or less universally recognized as representing the octothorpe character because it’s just easier to remember. Hash on the other hand is more or less an internet-only thing in popular culture, such as hashtag.

Generally speaking, pound is more recognized than hash when referring to the octothorpe mainly because phone companies prefer to use pound.. even though they’re the ones that invented the character and called it octothorpe to begin with.

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This is generated by pressing SHIFT and 6. Commonly called a “little up arrow”. Caret is another name for cursor, or if you really want to get all fancy Dan about it, it’s alternatively called a circumflex. Carets are used mainly in computer programming.