I am creating a software training video and need to refer to these brackets:

{ }

I usually call them "squiggly brackets" or "curly brackets".

Is there a more professional name?

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    Related: Bracket vs brace – Roger Pate Oct 13 '10 at 4:22
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    I have read all the answers, but I think that "squiggly" is so much cooler than "curly" that that is what I shall use from now on. I shall blog, write authoritative textbooks and popular novels, and a decade from now it will be the new and undisputed standard. – MickeyfAgain_BeforeExitOfSO Sep 21 '11 at 23:32
  • What's the point of resurrecting this question?! – user20934 Jul 10 '12 at 0:10
  • @rudra - The stackexchange automatically reprints old questions to the front page. There are details about how/why this is done in one of the general FAQ pages. – oosterwal Jul 11 '12 at 4:59
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    @mickeyf If you like squiggly brackets, then I promise you that you’ll enjoy squirrelly brackets even more, which are kinda like curly brackets but squirrellier. – tchrist Apr 7 '13 at 20:44

11 Answers 11


I think curly brackets is the most professional name. See Wikipedia for more details.

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    @Edward: just so you know, the "most professional name" remains "braces". In case that matter. "Curly bracket" is very uncommon in programming books. – VonC Aug 8 '10 at 17:29
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    I agree. In British English, "curly brackets" is the most technically correct name. "Braces" may or may not even be understood! – Noldorin Aug 30 '10 at 13:20
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    I use "curly braces" for my american english programming needs – Claudiu Oct 13 '10 at 14:09
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    To add another American perspective: {} are braces, [] are brackets, () are parentheses, <> are less-than and greater-than (or angle brackets, if you must), and «» are chevrons. – skst Oct 19 '11 at 13:31
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    Unicode calls the symbol "LEFT CURLY BRACKET" – nielsbot Jul 10 '12 at 15:44

curly braces (or 'braces' for short)

This is more common than curly brackets, to design blocks in programming languages.

See Why curly braces? (WebArchive) for more.

Curly braces are one means of denoting a lexical scope. Lexical scopes are blocks of code from which names do not escape

See also:

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    Actually, I refer to them just as 'braces'. 'curly' is more a disambiguation for 'brackets'. And yes nohat, I just realized wordiq is only a copy of the wikipedia entry. Again... – VonC Aug 8 '10 at 14:11
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    I say curly brace, because where I went through school, brackets ALWAYS meant "()", while we had square braces: "[]", angle braces or less/bigger than: "<>", and curly braces: "{}". That was just the most common usage, some people called "()" either braces or brackets, so the important thing was the qualifier on the type of brace for anything other than "()". – Vincent McNabb Aug 8 '10 at 23:29
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    I always took "brackets" to mean "{}", "square brackets" to mean "[]", and "parentheses" to mean "()". "Braces" are what I had on my teeth. (Now that I interact with programmers more, I accept "curly braces" and "curly brackets" as a means of disambiguation.) – mmyers Aug 12 '10 at 22:22

I always thought { was officially a brace.

[ is a bracket

( is a parenthesis

With "bracket" also referring to any one of the three.

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    This is the terminology that I have always used (in Australia). Further to this, I tend to refer to the angle brackets, < >, as chevrons but I have come across some people who do not understand that term. – dave Dec 13 '10 at 0:38
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    I thought chevrons were ⟪ ⟫ – mplungjan Mar 9 '11 at 12:52
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    As a fellow Australian, that's the definitions that I was taught; however in a programming or more everyday context it might cause confusion. As has been mentioned in another answer, 'curly bracket' is accepted, if not 'correct'. – Richard A May 9 '11 at 23:58

The Chicago Manual of Style refers to them as "braces".

6.102 "Braces, {}, often called curly brackets, provide yet another option for enclosing data and are used in various ways in certain programming languages. They are also used in mathematical and other specialized writing (see, e.g., 12.28). They are not interchangeable with parentheses or brackets. See the example phrases throughout chapter 5 for one possible use of braces." http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/16/ch06/ch06_sec102.html

12.28 Set notation Braces are used to delimit the elements of a set, and other delimiters should not be substituted. For example, {a1,a2,...an} http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/16/ch12/ch12_sec028.html

You will find this use of the word "brace" to be supported by dictionary definitions.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/brace?show=1&t=1341592270 http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/brace http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/brace

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    This is the one answer I'm upvoting, because it has the virtue of being fairly authoritative (which IMHO is what was meant by "professional name"). However, I can't imagine a context where I'd call them that, as the vast majority of my readers/listeners would be uncertian which glyphs I'm talking about exactly. – T.E.D. Jul 6 '12 at 16:48
  • Thanks for the upvote T.E.D. As a programmer, I call them "squirrelly brackets" because it's fun, and everyone knows what I am talking about. However, yes, I was looking for the "most professional" name for the marks. – Tolerance72 Jul 6 '12 at 16:57
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    @Torrence: If you're looking for more fun names, I had a grade school teacher who playfully called them "Alfred Hitchcocks" because of their resemblance to the profile of the famous director's face. But, no, that's hardly the "most professional" term. – J.R. Jul 7 '12 at 23:10
  • @J.R. I love it. – Tolerance72 Jul 9 '12 at 13:13

I don't know if this counts as the most professional name, but the Unicode standard refers to them as




from C0 Controls and Basic Latin: LEFT CURLY BRACKET = opening curly bracket (1.0) = left brace

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    A reference link would be helpful. – Tolerance72 Jul 9 '12 at 13:13

In my line of work (software development) we call them curly brackets or braces. These seem fairly canonical:



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Technically: “[]” are called brackets, “()” are called parentheses and “{}” are called braces. But in the real world these terms are used interchangeably so, to avoid confusion, be sure to make it 100% clear that you mean “{}”.

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The unicode standard uses "LEFT CURLY BRACKET" to describe this symbol: http://www.decodeunicode.org/u+007B

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If it's a java course then they are braces. See for example http://java.sun.com/docs/codeconv/html/CodeConventions.doc6.html

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I've always called them gullwings as this is clearly the coolest name for them. Curly brackets is probably the best if you want people to know what you're talking about.

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  • The symbols « and », mentioned above, are called guillemets, and function as quotation marks in some languages. See the Wikipedia article on "guillemets" for more information. – tautophile Jun 8 '18 at 16:01

You have a lot of comments about brackets and braces, but I think your question was seeking confirmation of "curly". Will Macmillan dictionary do?


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  • That link does little for the "more professional name" part of the question, because it labels curly brackets as informal. – James Waldby - jwpat7 Jul 13 '12 at 4:12

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