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The true story of mister #

In radiography it's the symbol for a fracture. In linguistic it means that a sentence is semantically wrong. In chess note is the symbol for checkmate, and in cartography is the symbol for village. The hash we always use on Twitter has a long story.

This week the Italian Twitter account of the EP – @europarl_it – got more than 7000 followers. Soulagement, I feel that the hours spent on Hootsuite and on my iPhone – even when I leave Brussels for a week at the sea I'm totally addicted – are not in vain.

So, as I was telling you, last week end I was enjoying some crosswords at the seaside. I was looking for a hard definition (14 horizontal – Middle section of the small intestine) and started drawing on the side of the page. Only God knows why, I was singing a horrible Michael Bublé song and drawing hashes (#) everywhere.

I stopped thinking about the 14 horizontal – the answer is jejunum, anyway – and I focused on the origin of the hash. Where does it come from? Why we use it as hashtag on Twitter? Here the answer. Or better, the answers.

I # you

Before being introduced in every phone keyboard and in technological items by two Bell Labs engineers in data communications, the hash was a commercial symbol. In US it was used as a symbol for the pound avoirdupois, the unit of weight. That's why Americans call it pound symbol, which in British English corresponds to £.

You can call it number sign, pound sign, sharp, crunch, hex, mesh, octothorp(e). The list is very long and its meaning can change for every scientific and technical language.

The French issue

In France they call it dièse, but they are wrong. The dièse is  and not #. The correct french name for # is croisillon. The dièse is the a musical symbol that raises a noteby a half tone.

Going back to Twitter, if you need to know the origin and the meaning of a hashtag, you can use


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