Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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?

share|improve this question
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

1 Answer 1

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).

share|improve this answer
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

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.