I have seen several people use the word backslash, it sounds like something similar to disaster, bad result, etc. But I am not quite sure what it means and when I should use it.


  • But if big layoffs result at home, corporations and the US government will face a backslash.
  • Celeb Boutique saw a major backslash as result after the inappropriate usage of the word Aurora.

It's not slang, and the word you want is almost certainly backlash:

a strong negative reaction by a large number of people, especially to a social or political development: a public backlash against racism

By contrast, Oxford Dictionaries define a backslash as

a backward-sloping diagonal line (\), used in some computer commands.

(In MS Windows Character Map utility, this character is described as a Reverse Solidus.)

  • 3
    ‘Reverse solidus’ is the Unicode name. ‘Backslash’ is a more common and colloquial term. Technically, of course, ‘reverse solidus’ is a misnomer, since the character is a reserved slash, not a reversed solidus. But that’s its name. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 15 '13 at 17:41
  • 1
    @JanusBahsJacquet it's not really a misnomer, as the slash symbol has been called a solidus for a long time - mostly when used to stand for solidus in currency amounts, but also in other uses - so it is perfectly correct that solidus be one of its names, and it is convenient to differentiate it from other similar characters with more specific uses (like fraction and division slashes). As such, it follows that it is perfectly correct for reverse solidus to be one of the names for the backslash. – Jon Hanna Sep 16 '13 at 12:57
  • @JonHanna, I see that the Unicode name for the forward slash has changed. It used to be that ‘solidus’ referred to the fraction slash specifically, and ‘slash’ to U+002F, which is apparently now officially known as ‘solidus’. That makes the Unicode nomenclature consistent again, which is what I thought it wasn’t. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 16 '13 at 20:57

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