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/ was called backslash because of the way it is made and was called the backslash in the days of typewriters. Going back and getting a call out of the typewriter keys from keyboards on the older typewriters will show the / key and call it out as the backslash key and as the slash key. I and all others of my age 68 learned to type on a typewriter in high school and when learning the keyboard the / was called in class the backslash. I also went on to become a typewriter repair tech for IBM in the early 70s and it was called the backslash key by them. The \ did not exist until computers came along. When I took DOS back in the dark ages the \ key was referred to as the forward slash. These designations have changed with later programmers having no knowledge of the typewriter keyboard or of the history of the /key other than as it pertained to programing. They started referring to the / key as the forward slash key or the slash key which it now is by default. The reason for the confusion is that all of us oldsters, I'm 68, grew up before a lot of programing was being done, used typewriters, and knew the / key as the backslash. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Tegratech (talkcontribs) 01:58, 15 May 2015 (UTC)

Proper name[edit]

Its name
The proper name for a forward slash is an 'oblique', so the proper name for a backslash is a 'reverse oblique'. Please tell me the writer is not American, u cant go assuming there's no set name for something because you haven't heard it silly... the british however have a very defined set of names for symbols. for example '[' is a left bracket, ']' is a right bracket, '(' is a left parenthesis, ')' is a right parenthesis, and together they are called parentheses. '~' is a tilde. '@' is the ampersat, '&' is the ampersand, '^' is the caret, '£' is the pound sign. '*' is asterisk. '_' underscore, '#' is hash symbol, not the square symbol etc.... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:51, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

Before computers, there was only the backslash "/" (err wot!?). This was commonly used in math formulas to represent division. It is called a backslash because it is usually made with a back motion, starting at its top and pulled down and back. Occasionally it was simply called a slash.

Along comes computers and DOS. Needing another character, Microsoft invented the forward slash "\", for help in defining pathnames. This is made by starting at the top and pushing down and forward to complete the character. It is amazing to see how the English language has changed itself to switch the naming of this symbol.

  • I'm sorry, but that sounds completely false. 10:53, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Can you (or anyone) provide a source for this information? —Frungi 23:12, 29 August 2005 (UTC)
  • I've heard this explanation before, and my problem with it is this: while most people probably write the characters in this manner, not necessarily everyone does. But more importantly, English is read from left to right, thus a slash which leans to the right is seen as falling forward, just as italic type appears to be pushing ahead by leaning to the right. --Birdhombre 16:21, 19 December 2005 (UTC)

Yeah I agree, backslash is taken to be '\' and forward slash is '/'. Also doesn't DOS use the basic ASCII character set, which would have contained both slashes anyway. (unless it works on that microsoft persistent crap). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:46, 8 October 2007 (UTC)


The Backslash is "Alt + ???" ? -- 05:07, 15 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Alt? No, it’s the key above Enter. —Frungi 23:09, 29 August 2005 (UTC)
Both of you are correct - on the US keyboard layout it's the key above enter, while on a German keyboard it's "Alt Gr + ß", for example. --Abdull 16:31, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

On the British keyboard (ahem where qwerty was invented, and also the keyboard for that matter) its next to left shift. Weird that...

Added comment: Sorry, but you have it backwards! Please see <>

[/] is a (forward) slash, also called a solidus, fraction bar, or virgule. I'd say any good dictionary would confirm that. BBC World Service announcers always call it a forward slash. [\] is a backslash, also called a reverse solidus. (Try the Unicode book; it's online.) Your explanations for why you named them that way are clever, but those are not the reasons. Just about positive that the late Bob Bemer, of IBM, invented the backslash, years before Microsoft. IIrc, he also invented the Esc key. Try Googling (or this Wikipedia!)for his name. (I spelled it correctly.) -- nb

The character must have been used before this, because it was on the programmer's keyboards! So, what was this character used for before then??? -- winjer

How annoying is it when they say "h t t p colon backslash backslash website dot com backslash index dot html" on TV. I've heard it on no less than 5 occasions, I'm happy to see I'm correct, it's a slash, damnit! --WAZAAAA 23:18, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

"The backslash's prominence in Microsoft Windows' directory names has even led to its erroneous placement in contexts not relating to directories, or computers at all, for that matter. For example, people might write about an "African\American ancestry"."

I think this has nothing to do with computers or Windows, it's just because people don't know which way to write a slash. Also it's unsourced / unverifiable / original research / whatever. Jibjibjib 02:41, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

This is a really useful article! (Is there a feedback / rating system for articles?)

An easy way to remember which slash is called what (even though no one calls it by the correct name) is if you start at the bottom, which way do you draw the line? Forward or backward?


I changed "Unix-affiliated programming languages" to "many programming languages". A programming language need not be affiliated with UNIX to use the backslash as an escape character. However, it could possibly be argued that programming languages that are patterned after C use this technique. Notbyworks 18:13, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Backslash invention/introduction[edit]

The Bob Bemer article only says that he introduced the backslash to the computer world. The backslash article rather sounds as if he is the one who invented it. Maybe someone can give good verifications? --Abdull 16:35, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

Incorrect Usage[edit]

Seems like lately I hear (mostly on radio) people referring to URLs including a backslash (which is obviously incorrect). Is there a way we can highlight this in the article, either drawing attention to the incorrect usage or highlighting further that URLs almost exclusively contain slashes and not backslashes? I would hate for this trend to continue as it causes a lot of confusion. The average joe will never use the backslash character in their lifetime. It's primarily reserved for us programmers. CydeSwype

god i cant believe i used the word in this way. i think i was trying to fit in, as i knew it was wrong.Mercurywoodrose (talk) 02:46, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
I could not agree more. Some mention of the common misuse, in verbal readings of URLs, of slashes being called "backslash" is relevant to the article. Ewicky (talk) 20:38, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

Colloquialism: Whack[edit]

The inclusion of 'Whack' as a incorrect colloquialism is a little misleading. The referenced link and the article itself points out - this is used for the [forward]slash. Is this worth retaining as the Slash_(punctuation) article doesn't even mention 'whack' as a correct usage? JudasD 10:47, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Incorrect according to what authority? It actually is referred to as a 'whack' in the ASCII ref. Googling the two terms will find numerous references. At Microsoft it's the common term for a backslash, as a short. It's a short, one-syllable synonym for a common symbol in (MS) computing, along the lines of star, bang, and hat. Bennetto (talk) 06:27, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

RE the incorrect usage...[edit]

It seems obvious to me the reasons why people get the "names" muddled:

A slash that leans forward, is a forward slash / . But it is written backwards (write one now, top right back to bottom left) hence the reason people call it a backslash (incorrectly). A backslash has the opposite properties, (ie leans back but is written forwards).

It may be dangerously close to O.R. but i suggest including something refering to the above to explain things a little better maybe? (talk) 15:05, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

I very much doubt the above. There are no references to "forward" slash in any documentation before the appearance of backslashes in MSDOS. Also I have never seen the forward slash called "backslash" except in the context of URL's being mis-read. An example is English dates, the same people who will say "backslash" in a URL will say "slash" when reading a 1/2/33 type date. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Spitzak (talkcontribs) 18:17, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

  • Well, I'm one of those who blames the creators instead of the users. You all seem agreed that originally there was just the slash (/) used in handwriting. Later, computer programmers invented the name "backslash" for an inverted symbol (\) because it's top is further back than it's bottom. That's how things happened, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. However, this is completely counter-intuitive to anyone making the slash in handwriting... and there's nothing anyone can do about that, either. That's because, as has been noted here, the vast majority of people who make the standard slash in writing (or, arguably, all of them) will begin at the top and move backward. Likewise, those who make the other type of slash will begin at the top and move forward. It has to do with hand muscles, of course, but it also involves the fact that people read from top to bottom, as well as left to right. For illustration, imagine if there had originally only been the colon (:) in punctuation, and computer programing began implementing a symbol they called the "doublecolon" (;). For the old colon, they would distinguish it with the phrase "single colon" (:). You'd imagine if there were a few cases of misuse or misunderstanding in this scenario. Of course, this is all leaps of original research. I haven't found any web sites that try to rationalize why the slashes are mistaken with each other so often, though there are several that express frustration with the "retards" who make the mistakes. -BaronGrackle (talk) 21:37, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

Slosh 1, British Columbia et al.[edit]

Just serving notice that the Slosh redirect will eventually target the St'at'imc village in Seton Portage, British Columbia; or to Slosh (disambiguation). Slosh 1, British Columbia and Slosh 1A, British Columbia are somewhat different, as Slosh 1 (a Wiki abbreviation derived from StatsCan's census monickers) refers to a larger area than Slosh village, and is primarily about Shalalth; Sosh 1A can be a redirect to Slosh 1, but there will be at least two other Slosh entries than the redirect that currently leads here.Skookum1 (talk) 15:03, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

"Double colon" would be written as "::" That was a poor example. We are not saying slash and double slash. We are not saying slash and semi slash.

slash = /

If clarity is needed, just say "The symbol used when writing the day, month and year.

˜˜˜˜ —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:49, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

Different countries write the date differently. - dcljr (talk) 00:45, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

use in grammar[edit]

HOW IS THIS USED IN GRAMMAR?????????????????????????????????????????? (talk) 23:19, 9 April 2014 (UTC) →§·←≥÷≥≈ (talk) 23:19, 9 April 2014 (UTC) (talk) 23:19, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

As far as I know, it isn't. --Nigelj (talk) 15:42, 15 May 2015 (UTC)

Ummm? don't you use it in these situations? coffee w/ cream? African/American

w/o = without w/ = with c/o = care of (used when posting a letter or parcel) a/c = air conditioning

Technically / is not a forward or backward slash it is just a slash. \ is a "backward" slash or backslash.