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Dele, the more common term in modern American English (sometimes used as a verb, e.g. "Dele that graph"), coincides with the imperative form of the Latin delere ("to delete"). However, the Oxford English Dictionary notes an earlier use in English of deleatur (Latin "let it be deleted"), and suggests that dele in English may have been an abbreviation for the longer word.
The origin of the symbol appears to be an archaic letter D in the Kurrent and Sütterlin scripts, as an abbreviation for dele or deleatur. It is markedly similar (if not identical in some cases) to the symbol for the German penny () which is an archaic lowercase d, for denarius. As with most hand-written letters and symbols, its appearance is variable.
The dele is used in proofreading and copy editing, where it may be written over the selected text itself (such that it often resembles a stretched cursive e), or in the margin alongside the selected text, which is usually struck through with a line.
The stricken text or the dele itself may be framed by top and bottom curved brackets, as in this example, to indicate that the space left after deletion is to be closed up. As the need for such closing up can usually be inferred by context, however, the brackets are often omitted.
A dele can be undone with a stet.