I am trying to get the meaning of the symbol ‡. I saw it a couple of times: as a tattoo in a little boy finger, and on Wikipedia.

How is this symbol called in English?

  • 1
    It's nothing to do with English, but the slanted bar makes it look like a Russian Orthodox cross, though if it is, it should really have three bars.
    – z7sg Ѫ
    Commented Apr 29, 2011 at 13:06
  • 5
    @z7sg. Close ! I believe that the reason why it has only one horizontal bar in addition to the oblique one is that it is a simple St Nicholas cross, as opposed to the more complex Orthodox Cross with two horizontal bars. Bear in mind that St Nicholas is in charge of protecting the children since he started to resuscitate them in the 4th Century AD in Turkey - or so the legend has it. Commented Apr 29, 2011 at 13:40
  • 1
    It just means you've been double-crossed.
    – Robusto
    Commented Apr 29, 2011 at 21:00
  • Hi, every so often I go through posts which have "How do you call....?" or "How is/are ______ called?" in their questions or titles. See the discussion in this post: “How do we call (something) in English?” Would you mind editing your body question to What is this symbol ....?" Thanks!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 12:36

3 Answers 3


It is a double dagger and it is often used in typography to indicate a footnote.

The simple one (†), with only one horizontal bar is called a dagger after it's resemblance with the blade.

If you have two footnotes on a given page, the first one will be marked with the single dagger and the second one with the double dagger.

In lists of peoples (authors, military staff), the dagger will indicate a dead individual.

In tattoos, the dagger (e.g. on the arm) will sometimes mean that the bearer has had a military past or is not afraid of death.

Having seen the picture from flickr and since the little boy is from Odessa, I think it could also be interpreted as an St Nicolas cross.

Considering that St Nicholas is the patron Saint in charge of orphans (among other duties), it would mean that the young boy is asking for some heavenly protection for want of a better earthly one.


It is a “double dagger” (Unicode character U+2021). It is a variant of the “dagger” (also called “obelus”) character (†).

Wikipedia has an extensive list of possible uses in typography, but it is mostly used to introduce footnotes. Typically, the first footnote is introduced with an asterisk (*), the second one with a dagger, and the third one a double dagger.

  • 2
    that should be "third one a double dagger", yes?
    – PSU
    Commented Apr 29, 2011 at 12:58

I can't find a source but I have seen it used often as 'not equal to'


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