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?


3 Answers 3


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).

  • 7
    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. Commented Feb 2, 2011 at 8:42
  • As an additional note, in the Portable Character Set, both symbolic names (<slash>, <solidus>) share the same glyph "/" (UCS: <U002F>) with the same description: SOLIDUS. -- from: The Open Group Base Specifications Issue 7, 2018 edition - 6.1 Portable Character Set -- and from what I know, JSON per JSON.org describes the character as SOLIDUS (w/o caps). Mind thought, all these are ASCII based "2/15 / Slant" (Vinton G. Cerf, Oct 1969), which how I read it, and Wikipedia reminds on, as keyboards (and such) are missing the distinction between the characters, compressing on one glyph.
    – hakre
    Commented Jun 17, 2023 at 19:59

One authority which usefully distinguishes between the virgule (also called a slash) and the solidus is Robert Bringhurst's The elements of typography. He notes the higher verticality of the virgule, which he calls an "alternative form of the comma" (p.81). It's used as a general separatrix, in dates, and when naming alternatives (either/or) (though this last usage is frowned on by some). The more slanted solidus is used in fractions. Our difficulty is we only have one forward slash on our keyboards; you must resort to your "Symbols" catalog to find a solidus.

  • 2
    But having found the distinct symbols, it no doubt turns out that one font's solidus is indistinguishable from another's virgule (and that most people can't distinguish them anyway even in a single font, and few are even aware that there exist two such look-alikes). Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 19:21

"/" 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"

  • 1
    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
    Commented Feb 7, 2015 at 19:06
  • @tchrist Woah! How did you get the Ǝ? (I copied and pasted it from your comment to include it in mine.) Commented May 4, 2016 at 21:46
  • 3
    This is a retronym, and I believe came to prominence when URLs entered the cognizance of a public which was already used to backslashes in Microsoft file systems.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 23:54
  • 2
    I can attest to that. I used to be young during those dark days of infamy, and when you said "slash" most people thought of the actual backslash as in DOS's prompt: C:\> which was the symbol for the root of your filesystem and a directory hierarchy separator. so it was not uncommon to get support requests from about our "broken" website that refused to load at http:\\www.cetys.mx .. n.n shudders
    – hlecuanda
    Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 6:18
  • Digitally digging into this, finding in ASCII the description "Slant" (for the / glyph) and "Reverse Slant" (for the \ glyph and with the remark [3] that "[such a character] should not be used in international interchange without determining that there is agreement between sender and recipient."). -- IMHO interesting, as it is using a different word, Slant instead of Slash, and has the remark on the reverse one, which is a sign to me, that the overall meaning, regardless of which one, is hard to distinct. So its not just by the numbers or codes. (appendix is missing on the IETF site.)
    – hakre
    Commented Jun 17, 2023 at 20:20

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