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I was reading a text, and I found the word solidus.

What is a solidus? Is the word normally used in everyday language, or is there another word that replaces solidus even if it's not the completely correct word?

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There's also the word "virgule". I know nothing more about this word (beyond the level of Wikipedia, which in this case seems not very reliable), so apologies if I add to the confusion. – ShreevatsaR Feb 2 '11 at 8:41

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

According to wikipedia,

The solidus ( ⁄ ) is a punctuation mark used to indicate fractions including fractional currency. It may also be called a shilling mark, an in-line fraction bar, or a fraction slash. (...)

The solidus is similar to another punctuation mark, the slash ( / ), which is found on standard keyboards; the slash is closer to being vertical than the solidus. These are two distinct symbols that traditionally have entirely different uses. However, many people no longer distinguish between them, and when there is no alternative it is acceptable to use the slash in place of the solidus.

So, unless you're engaging in some typography, saying 'slash' instead of 'solidus' should be completely acceptable (and probably more widely understood).

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Also note that the Unicode standard says U+002F, the character you get from your / key, actually is the solidus. Which makes the distinction kind of difficult to keep up in times of digital fonts. Sadly. – Christopher Creutzig Feb 2 '11 at 8:42

"/" is also known as the "forward slash", to differentiate this symbol from "\", or "back slash". "Forward slash" is often used when quoting a URL website address outloud. Example: "h t t p colon forward slash forward slash w w w dot english dot stackexchange dot com forward slash questions forward slash 10993"

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U+002F SOLIDUS is already a slash or virgule by definition. There is no reason whatsoever to qualify the default case. It’s like calling E a “forward” E, as though there were some need to differentiate it from Ǝ: makes no sense. – tchrist Feb 7 at 19:06

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