All the meanings of the word 'slash', other than an oblique forward or backward stroke are either violent or obscene. They include cuts made with swords, lashing with a whip, cutting maliciously car tyres with a knife, and in Britain the act of male urination (I have never heard it applied to a female).

Hence I find the word when used in its now everyday sense of a small inoffensive printed stroke (which is American in origin) unpleasantly resonant. I tend therefore to use the time-honoured British nomenclature of stroke, forward stroke, and backward stroke. Does everyone understand that?

  • I think to avoid the downvotes, you may want to change your question to a more 'probing' form. Perhaps When did slash start to mean '/', when did it start to mean urinate and why (if they do) do Brits use 'stroke' for '/ \' more than slash. (or something like that). I suspect the DV is for _this is more like a discussion than an answerable question possibly. I'd be interested in the slash / urination history . – Frank Aug 13 '14 at 13:07
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it appears to be peeving in the form of a question. – Robusto Aug 13 '14 at 13:54
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    In phrases like "Subsection 3, paragraph 5, revision 3 stroke B", when delivered in a British accent (plummy RP is best), stroke will usually be understood as / in the US. Otherwise it's unlikely. But there are many other SL- words with the "2-Dimensional Contact" sense; and the STR- words are interesting, too. – John Lawler Aug 13 '14 at 15:05
  • Discussion moved to a chat room for your convenience. Please don't discuss in comments. – Andrew Leach Aug 13 '14 at 19:27



noun: stroke; plural noun: strokes

  1. an act of hitting or striking someone or something; a blow. "he received three strokes of the cane"

    synonyms: blow, hit, thump, punch, slap, smack, cuff, knock;

(from Google)

Your replacement word is just as violent as the word you wish to replace. As a Canadian I can tell you that I would find it difficult to understand you if you constantly referred to / as stroke.

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    You're tempting fate with 'from Google' there! But I think you're being a bit hard on stroke. There's lots of nice things stroke can help you with; rowing, swimming, snooker, cricket, hair, painting, pornography and there's some evidence that stroking a pussy can help you live longer. – Frank Aug 13 '14 at 15:03
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    @Frank well, yeah, there are lots of other definitions for stroke, including the kind that causes brain damage. My point was that words can have multiple meanings and the fact that slash connotes something violent to WS2 doesn't mean it does to everyone, and stroke has similar problems. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Aug 13 '14 at 15:12

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