I'm programming a parser for a new language, and need a word which references all kinds of quotes and brackets:

"" '' <> () [] {}

Up to now I always used "quotes and brackets", but is there another, single-term word, that can be used?

(Related: Bracket vs brace)


The language will be relatively simple. However, it's commands are completly defined by modules, and they decide how delimiters are used. Here's an example:

function "a subFunction"
    set background color #FFF              //No semicolons - one command per line
    put image "/path/forest.jpg" size [1080px auto] position [0 0]   //square brackets for additional information

set background color "black" animation [fadeIn 500ms linear]
<$variable == 42.5> call "a subFunction"   //function is only called, if  the condition is true
sleep 5.6s                                 //dots and commas have no special meaning
set background image /path/img.jpg         //Quotes are always optional
  • 2
    That really depends on how they're used in the new language. Braces, brackets, and parentheses are generally used to isolate groups of terms, and are called "grouping characters". Single and double quotes are most often used to delimit literal expressions (string literals) and are called "string delimiters". Since the two types of characters most often have very different uses, there's no single term I'm aware of that encompasses them and only them. But if they're used differently in this language, something else might suit. How are they used? Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 13:36
  • @MattGutting Each sourcecode-line is one command, which consists out of several tokens. A token can be surrounded by quotes or brackets to give it a special meaning. quotes and brackets are equivalent though quotes are mostly used for strings only.
    – maja
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 13:42

1 Answer 1



delimiters - a sequence of one or more characters used to specify the boundary between separate, independent regions in plain text

In the case of brackets, they're "paired delimiters". Depending on your font, single/double quotes might be paired (aka smart quotes) or "not paired" (sometimes called dumb quotes). Those alternatives are in fact different characters, but I've never come across a context where both are used within the same text with different connotations.

  • 1
    The only difficulty with using delimiters is that it might include a comma, dot (period), semicolon, pipe |, or any of a number of other characters. Paired delimiters is good, though. Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 13:45
  • Thanks, that's exacly what I needed. I wish I had asked this question before I wrote quotes and brackets over a thousand times
    – maja
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 13:46
  • 1
    @maja Typical programming issue, huh? xD
    – Neeku
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 14:12
  • @Matt Gutting: Syntactically, a "parenthetical phrase" can be enclosed/delimited using paired commas (or dashes or brackets). Since we don't know the exact specification of OP's new language, we can't know whether he intends to support that usage or some other (C and C++, for example, use the comma as a "non-paired" delimiter between executable statements). So unless OP tells us what if any role commas have in his language, we've no idea whether it's a "difficulty" or an "asset" that commas are usually included in the general categeory of delimiters. Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 15:39
  • @maja s/quotes and brackets/paired delimiters/g Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 15:46

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