I hope this is the end of blind US/UK support for a state with a shocking record of human rights. (BBC)

As is well known, the most common use of the slash is to link words which are alternative, as in, as an instance, "Everyone must submit his/her name."

But, is the above a general convention? Or, is there a regional difference between the U.S., Britain, Australia and New Zealand usage?

I know, as John Lawler says, that there is neither standard English nor international English, but wouldn't be better to replace the slash with an hyphen in the above BBC's sentence in order to avoid confusion among readers, at least in an international context?

I hope this is the end of blind US-UK support for a state with a shocking record of human rights.

  • "Is it commonly accepted using the slash to mean 'as well as'?" Uh! Why would this question be "opinion based"?
    – user19148
    Jul 23, 2013 at 17:57
  • The slash always means or.
    – tchrist
    Jul 23, 2013 at 18:15
  • @tchrist, I love to hear this from you, but, then, the BBC usage is wrong without further concerns about possible regional differences?
    – user19148
    Jul 23, 2013 at 18:20
  • 1
    I don’t know about all that, but I agree that it would be better written as US–UK if it means both.
    – tchrist
    Jul 23, 2013 at 18:21
  • 2
    Or has several meanings, and the slash is often used to indicate one of a range of terms that can be used for a concept: One may speak of the mind/psyche/soul/persona of a human, but ... Jul 23, 2013 at 19:38

3 Answers 3


In §6.104, "Slashes to signify alternatives," the Chicago Manual of Style says:

A slash most commonly signifies alternatives. In certain contexts it is a convenient (if somewhat informal) shorthand for or. It is also used for alternative spellings or names. Where one or more of the terms separated by slashes is an open compound, a space before and after the slash can be helpful.

  • he/she
  • his/her
  • and/or
  • Hercules/Heracles
  • Margaret/Meg/Maggie
  • World War I / First World War

Occasionally a slash can signify and—though still usually conveying a sense of alternatives.

  • an insertion/deletion mutation
  • an MD/PhD program
  • a Jekyll/Hyde personality

I read the OP's sentence to mean "US and UK support" -- although it should be noted that its use appears in a comment to the BBC article, and as such can't be considered standard (i.e. professionally produced and edited) writing.

As its use in this case lacks the sense of "conveying alternatives," I can endorse the OP's suggestion to use "US-UK support" instead. However, using a slash to mean and is unambiguous to me, and I personally wouldn't quibble about its use here not conveying a choice between the US and the UK.


On the West Coast of the US, the slash has always indicated an "'and' or 'or'" statement in my experience. When dealing with people from the East Coast however, I've seen it used more commonly as an 'or' statement.

In regards to my experience, I would assume it's entirely regional.


As @Gnawme says, the term "US/UK" "appears in a comment to [a] BBC article". The comment as a whole is very badly written. As the comments on the BBC website are probably fairly transient, I am reproducing it below exactly as it stands:

At 13:18 16th Mar 2010, [name] wrote:

I hope this is the end of blind US/UK support for a state with a shocking record of
human rights.
Lets remember that if israel gets away with this they are literally destroying any arab
hope of a capital in jerusalem. Therefor ripping apart any hope of a just peace.
They would also be breaking international law, and be liable, justly, to face international
its a disgrace that the US, above all, has turned a blind eye to the disregard of human
rights shown by israel for so long.

The lack of proper punctuation, capitalisation, etc. in the comment clearly indicates that the author is not bothered about correct formatting, etc.. Hence nothing can properly be adduced from any particular usage in that comment.

Having said that, I certainly was not aware that

The slash always means or (quote from comment by @tchrist above),

and I note that @Jacobm001 disagrees and states that

On the West Coast of the US, the slash has always indicated an "and or or"

I do not know whether there is a 'standard' British acceptance of its meaning, but I have always understood it to mean and or or (or some other alternative combinations when 3 or more items and 'linked' by slashes), with its exact meaning to be adduced from the context, or perhaps even left purposely vague.

  • Trevor, +1, but, as John Lawler said "Or has several meanings" and no one can say what really it means. For example, consider "You can make payments in June/December", "You can make payments in June as well as in December", "You can make payments in June and in December" and "You can make payments in June or December". What's the difference?
    – user19148
    Jul 23, 2013 at 23:54
  • I know he did (but overlooked it!) and have amended my answer accordingly. All the existing answers appear to be from a US perspective - and even there there is disagreement - so I wanted also to add a UK perspective. And to point out the unreliability of the original source.
    – TrevorD
    Jul 24, 2013 at 0:04

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