Tie (typography)

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The tie is a symbol in the shape of an arc similar to a large breve, used in Greek, phonetic alphabets, and Z notation. It can be used between two characters with spacing as punctuation, or non-spacing as a diacritic. It can be above or below, and reversed. Its forms are called tie, double breve, enotikon or papyrological hyphen, ligature tie, and undertie.



The enotikon (ενωτικόν, enōtikón, lit. "uniter"), papyrological hyphen, or Greek hyphen was a low tie mark found in late Classical and Byzantine papyri.[1] In an era when Greek texts were typically written scripta continua, the enotikon served to show that a series of letters should be read as a single word rather than misunderstood as two separate words. (Its companion mark was the hypodiastole, which showed that a series of letters should be understood as two separate words.[2]) Although modern Greek now uses the Latin hyphen, ELOT included mention of the enotikon in its romanization standard[3] and Unicode is able to reproduce the symbol with its characters U+203F   ‿ undertie and U+035C  ͜  combining double breve below.[2][4]

The enotikon was also used in Greek musical notation, as a slur under two notes. When a syllable was sung with three notes, this slur was used in combination with a double point and a diseme overline.[4]

International Phonetic Alphabet[edit]

The International Phonetic Alphabet uses two type of ties: the ligature tie (IPA #433), above or below two symbols and the undertie (IPA #509) between two symbols.

Ligature tie[edit]

The ligature tie, also called double inverted breve, is used to represent double articulation (e.g. [k͡p]), affricates (e.g. [t͡ʃ]) or prenasalized consonant (e.g. [m͡b]) in the IPA. It is mostly found above but can also be found below when more suitable (e.g. [k͜p]).

On computers, it is encoded with characters U+0361   ͡ combining double inverted breve and, as an alternative when raisers might be interfering with the bow, U+035C   ͜ combining double breve below.


The undertie is used to represent linking (absence of a break) in the IPA. For example it is used to indicate liaison (e.g. /vuz‿ave/) but can also be used for other types of sandhi.

On computers, the character used is U+203F undertie. This is a spacing character, not to be confused with the alternative (below-letter) form of the ligature tie (a͜b U+035C ͜ combining double breve below), which is a combining character.[5]

Uralic Phonetic Alphabet[edit]

The Uralic Phonetic Alphabet uses several forms of the tie or double breve:[6][7]

  • The triple inverted breve or triple breve below indicates a triphthong
  • The double inverted breve, also known as the ligature tie, marks a diphthong
  • The double inverted breve below indicates a syllable boundary between vowels
  • The undertie is used for prosody
  • The inverted undertie is used for prosody.

Other uses[edit]

Various forms of the tie

The double breve is used in the phonetic notation of the American Heritage Dictionary in combination with a double o, o͝o, to represent the near-close near-back vowel (ʊ in IPA).[8]

The triple breve below is used in the phonetic writing Rheinische Dokumenta for three letter combinations.[9]

The character tie is used for sequence concatenation in Z notation. It is encoded with U+2040 character tie in Unicode. For example "s⁀t" represents the concatenation sequence of sequences called s and t; and the notation "⁀/q" is the distributed concatenation of the sequence of sequences called q.[10]

The ligature tie is used in the logotypes of mobilkom Austria and its A1 brand.


name character HTML code Unicode Unicode name sample
double breve  ͝  ͝ U+035D combining double breve o͝o
ligature tie  ͡  ͡ U+0361 combining double inverted breve /k͡p/
ligature tie below,
 ͜  ͜ U+035C combining double breve below /k͜p/
‿ U+203F undertie /vuz‿ave/
tie ⁀ U+2040 character tie s⁀t
inverted undertie ⁔ U+2054 inverted undertie o⁔o

The diacritic signs triple inverted breve, triple breve, and double inverted breve have not yet been encoded for computers.

Unicode has characters similar to the tie:

  • U+23DC top parenthesis and U+23DD bottom parenthesis
  • U+2322 frown and U+2323 smile
  • U+2050 close up, which is a proofreading mark

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nicholas, Nick. "Greek Unicode Issues: Greek /h/". 2005. Accessed 7 Oct 2014.
  2. ^ a b Nicolas, Nick. "Greek Unicode Issues: Punctuation". 2005. Accessed 7 Oct 2014.
  3. ^ Ελληνικός Οργανισμός Τυποποίησης [Ellīnikós Organismós Typopoíīsīs, "Hellenic Organization for Standardization"]. ΕΛΟΤ 743, 2η Έκδοση [ELOT 743, 2ī Ekdosī, "ELOT 743, 2nd ed."]. ELOT (Athens), 2001. (Greek).
  4. ^ a b Ancient Greek music, Martin Litchfield West, 1994, p. 267.
  5. ^ SC2/WG2 N2594 - Proposal to encode combining double breve below
  6. ^ Uralic Phonetic Alphabet characters for the UCS, 2002-03-20.
  7. ^ Proposal to encode additional characters for the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet, Klaas Ruppel, Tero Aalto, Michael Everson, 2009-01-27.
  8. ^ Proposal for 3 Additional Double Diacritics, 2002-05-10.
  9. ^ Proposal to encode a combining diacritical mark for Low German dialect writing, Karl Pentzlin, 2008-10-25
  10. ^ The Z Notation: a reference manual, J. M. Spivey.