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.

When my daughter asked me and my husband about a No Smoking sign, we explained that it means no cigarettes are allowed. (We had to explain cigarettes to her too.)

enter image description here

Unfortunately, she now thinks that the red circle and diagonal line are called a "cigarette", so she'll talk about the cigarette in the No Parking sign:

enter image description here

Is there a name we can teach her for the red circle and slash?

enter image description here

share|improve this question
    
You have no slash in those figures. It’s a backslash, not a slash: the slope is negative not positive. Unicode has it as a combining character: ‭◌ ⃠ U+20E0 COMBINING ENCLOSING CIRCLE BACKSLASH. So 🚸⃠ could conceivably be a no crossing sign if you needed it. That’s a two-codepoint glyph of \x{1F6B8}\x{20e0} or \N{CHILDREN CROSSING}\N{COMBINING ENCLOSING CIRCLE BACKSLASH}. Note that it is a backslash, not a slash. –  tchrist Mar 10 at 3:01
8  
@tchrist For the record, I disagree that “slash” necessarily means a bend dexter or sinister. Unicode may be consistent about it, but Unicode isn't English. –  Bradd Szonye Mar 10 at 3:09
1  
@BraddSzonye I’m just trying to keep the hobgoblins of foolish inconsistency at bay. –  tchrist Mar 10 at 3:12
    
@tchrist The hobgoblins of foolish inconsistency make the world what it is. Without foolish inconsistency there could be no experimentation. That said: I LOVE THAT PHRASE!!!!!!! –  David M Mar 10 at 3:27
5  
@DavidM: The full quote is: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson –  Gabe Mar 10 at 4:31
show 1 more comment

3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

No symbol.

The no symbol (also prohibition sign, no sign, circle-backslash symbol, nay, or universal no) is a circle with a diagonal line through it (running from top left to bottom right), surrounding a pictogram used to indicate something is not permitted.


Trivia: There is also a popular "forward slash" version:

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks. That's what we had been calling it, but I was hoping there was a "stickier" term. Maybe we'll just call it the "forbidden" sign (although of course it's not the sign that's forbidden). –  espertus Mar 10 at 0:03
2  
Why would you call it something else? There are already 6 names that is used :) "no symbol" is sticky enough. "prohibition sign" is self-explanatory also. –  ermanen Mar 10 at 0:15
    
Ah, I hadn't clicked through, not realizing there were other options at the link. FTR, they are: prohibition sign, no sign, circle-backslash symbol, nay, and universal no. –  espertus Mar 10 at 0:26
    
Thanks for the Ghostbusters one. I'm sure my daughter will enjoy decoding it. –  espertus Mar 10 at 15:04
add comment

If I had to give a "stickier term" which also explained the meaning of the red circle symbol with a diagonal slash, I would say:

That's the Do not do sign.
Do not smoke; do not park here; do not use a mobile here1; do not take photos 2 etc.

share|improve this answer
add comment

How about the "verboten" symbol?

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
    
I like that. Thanks. –  espertus Mar 10 at 2:48
5  
That isn't English. It gets used in English, but it ain't English. –  David M Mar 10 at 3:24
    
@David M: According to Collins, verboten is as English as pyjamas say nowadays. –  Edwin Ashworth Mar 10 at 5:25
    
If you saw that sign without text, and were asked what it means, wouldn't you say No smoking rather than Smoking verboten? –  Barmar Mar 11 at 15:24
1  
If I was talking to my kid, I'd just as likely say "das ist verboten!", whilst spitting on him. –  Spehro Pefhany Mar 11 at 15:42
add comment

protected by tchrist May 25 at 18:01

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

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