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.)

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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:

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

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  • 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, 2014 at 3:01
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    @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. Mar 10, 2014 at 3:09
  • 1
    @BraddSzonye I’m just trying to keep the hobgoblins of foolish inconsistency at bay.
    – tchrist
    Mar 10, 2014 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, 2014 at 3:27
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    @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, 2014 at 4:31

3 Answers 3


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:

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  • 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). Mar 10, 2014 at 0:03
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    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. Mar 10, 2014 at 0:26
  • Thanks for the Ghostbusters one. I'm sure my daughter will enjoy decoding it. Mar 10, 2014 at 15:04

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.


How about the "verboten" symbol?

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  • 5
    That isn't English. It gets used in English, but it ain't English.
    – David M
    Mar 10, 2014 at 3:24
  • @David M: According to Collins, verboten is as English as pyjamas say nowadays. Mar 10, 2014 at 5:25
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    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, 2014 at 15:24
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    If I was talking to my kid, I'd just as likely say "das ist verboten!", whilst spitting on him. Mar 11, 2014 at 15:42

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