Technology1 min ago
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/lang/digits.htm for some explanation of this Americanism.
'Octothorpe' is a very recent invention...it's not even listed in Chambers or The Oxford English Dictionary.
But all of this is missing the point of my question. Why do the Americans call it a pound sign and yet they use it as a shorthand for number? Why not number sign?
The # sign is known by many different names in a variety of computer languages, including, but not limited to, number sign, pound, pound sign, hash, sharp, hex, mesh, grid, crosshatch, octothorpe, flash, square, pig pen, tictactoe, scratchmark, thud, thump and splat.
So, it's real name is not limited to octothorpe.
Templeman and Quizmonster have explained why the # sign was called a pound sign in America.
The # sign being called a pound sign is not connected in any way to the � money sign which is why you are probably getting confused Pinotage.
Dear jellybaby22 - if you read my question you'll see there was no question of my confusing � with # .
As for octothorpe - gosh I mentioned that because I wanted to avoid the very wild goose-chases that have been appearing here instead of answers. I know the derivation of the word, and all the alternatives for #, I know why and how computer printer codes work. I've professionally used computer keyboards in 20 countries and they all differ. Forget octothorp. Does anyone know the answer to the question? It seems not.
If you have the experience that you claim, then you will know that one of the names and uses of the # sign has always been number.
I suggest that if that explanation is not sufficient then you should tell us why and I'm sure that we can delve for even more info. I'm surprised that you didn't know the answer with all your world wide experience.