What does the punctuation "//" mean? For example:

I think I owe myself a THWACK. //ashamed

... //run

... //head down

I heard this is related to the comment in the programming language C. But still I don't get the actual meaning and purpose it tries to convey, not to say how to use "//".

Is such usage of "//" informal?

  • 5
    The excellent answers forget to say that this is very informal. – user1579 Apr 28 '11 at 1:29
  • This basically not an answer, but I use double-slashes as an abbreviation for "Best regards… best wishes… truly yours etc." //Otto – user70572 Mar 31 '14 at 8:44
  • In Everquest, the first really popular MMORPG in the US, an emote was typed as /wave or /bow or similar, and the avatar would enact it on screen. – Davo May 12 '17 at 17:07

// comes from programming and is generally used to denote a comment or explanation that should be ignored by the compiler or computer. Its purpose is to leave notes and instructions for future programmers or anyone else that needs to understand what is happening in code. The literary equivalent is a footnote.

In the examples you provide, the words following the // are comments of emotions or actions to let the reader know what the author was feeling or doing.

I think I owe myself a THWACK. //ashamed

This means that whoever said this was ashamed of their actions. Similar constructions include using :emotion: or an emoticon:

Yeah, that is great idea. :eyeroll:

This is great news! :)

Other programming style behaviors include ^H and nested or malformed ( ) [ ] { } pairs:

I will stalk^H^H^H^H^Hfollow you everywhere!

I like pizza (with olives (except green olives (but you can put them on your half of the pizza))).

  • 4
    Backspacing a character requires sending a control code instead of a printable character. The key-combination CTRL+H or a key that was set up to duplicate that combination would send that control code. Some environments would echo (display) that 'non-printable' code instead of acting on the command. ^ indicates the CTRL key. Thus, when you attempted to backspace something, you sometimes saw a sequence of ^H displayed to the screen. A Google search for CTRL <letter> will turn up a variety of control codes with much better explanations than I could possibly provide. – Ron Porter Apr 27 '11 at 20:42
  • In addition to what @Ron said, here is the relevant Wikipedia link – MrHen Apr 27 '11 at 20:50
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    Also the use of sarcasm or irony HTML tags. <sarcasm>Not that any self-respecting dev would do that.</sarcasm> – Lunivore Apr 27 '11 at 22:27

I know this is not relevant to your case, but a single or double slash is also used when citing poetry, to indicate where the metre or line ends in a continuous quotation: at regina gravi iamdudum saucia cura // vulnus alit venis et caeco carpitur igni. It looks like this in proper print:

At regina gravi iamdudum saucia cura

Vulnus alit venis et caeco carpitur igni

  • It's very relevant if you post software-related haiku to Twitter. You might think that unlikely, yet given the overlap on this site... – Lunivore Apr 27 '11 at 22:30
  • @Lunivore: Right, I suppose anything can be a poem! But what if you are quoting from a poem that spans several lines and also includes // from code comments... – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Apr 27 '11 at 22:34
  • Then it would be in perl, and use #, not //. tamias.net/rjk/perl/poetry – Lunivore Apr 28 '11 at 6:48

It is very informal, looks like a variant of an emote which uses a singular slash, the double is probably influenced by programming comments, but hard to say. Particularly as a double slash in written work usually means "new line here".

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