I'm looking for a noun to refer to this shape:

Three lines from a point

The shape is simple enough that it seems there should be an established word for it. The best I could think of would be something like "three-pronged star" but it's not exactly a star. This term would evoke the following shape for me instead:

Three broad pointed lines

A technical/mathematical term would be interesting, but I'm more interested in a word the average reader without that kind of background would immediately understand.

  • 1
    @FumbleFingers Oh right, I actually considered that as well, but I've got two problems with it: a) it's a very broad term that likely needs further clarification or context to ensure that it's referring to this specific shape and b) I was originally going to use this in the context of a larger hexagonal grid (where I want to refer to a set of three edges that meet in a vertex) where "vertex" would not obviously include the three edges incident on the vertex I'm talking about (which is why I started looking for a word that refers to the shape of the three edges). Aug 13, 2016 at 21:12
  • 1
    In 3-D it’s a corner
    – Jim
    Aug 13, 2016 at 21:24
  • 7
    It's a classic flux capacitor.
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 13, 2016 at 21:55
  • 4
    It's a linear (i.e, uncurved, unbent) Triskelion. Aug 13, 2016 at 22:35
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    In heraldry, it is called a pall reversed.
    – Phil Sweet
    Aug 14, 2016 at 1:29

5 Answers 5


It's an adjective, but there's triradiate:

having three rays or raylike processes.

So far triradius has been sequestered in biology (and palm reading) as a term for the whorl on the human palm at the base of each finger.

I would probably use Y-shape as suggested before if clarity was most important. But triradius/triradii has a nerdiness/technical feel to it that could prove to be just the thing depending on context.

  • "Equal-Angle Y Shaped" is common in plumbing circles!
    – JeffUK
    Dec 16, 2020 at 0:44

Tri-point is the name of the screw/screwdriver shaped like your first image.

From Wikipedia:

The tri-point, security screw head is similar to the Phillips screw head, but it has three points rather than four. These specialized screws are usually used on electronics equipment.

The second image is more of a star. It might be more precise to say three-pointed star in that case.

That's the term that Mercedes-Benz uses for their trademark:

How it all Began 1909: The three-pointed star on all routes.

Given that the trademark is over 100 years old, the term is very well known.

Both of these terms will be understood by most (if not all) English speakers. They can also refer to any orientation of the shape.

  • 5
    Re: "Both of these terms will be understood by most (if not all) English speakers": I'm not so confident of that. I'd never encountered tri-point screwdrivers, and if I saw that name out of context, I'd assume it referred to a three-pointed "spanner" screw head.
    – ruakh
    Aug 14, 2016 at 4:06
  • Would you call this shape a "Phillips"? But everyone knows what a Phillips screwdriver is... so, no, I would not agree that you can call the OP's shape a Three-Point.
    – einpoklum
    Aug 14, 2016 at 16:48
  • I think "three-pointed star" is the right answer, but seems to be synonymous with "The Mercedes Benz Logo" there doesn't seem to be much use outside of that.
    – JeffUK
    Dec 16, 2020 at 0:41

There are a lot of hits on Google for 'inverted Y-shape'. If you don't care about the orientation, you may go for the simpler (more generic) 'Y-shape'.

  • 2
    True, there are a lot of hits. How about including one that closely matches the OP's diagram?
    – ab2
    Aug 13, 2016 at 22:36

I suggest the term forked cross might be a good one to use. It does seem to be associated with a slightly elongated version of your image, but it seems in common use and might help you out:


"A forked cross, is a Gothic cross in the form of the letter Y that is also known as a crucifixus dolorosus, furca, ypsilon cross, Y-cross, robber's cross or thief's cross." [Wikipedia][1]


I believe the geometric name for this is an Inverse Hexagon.

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    This would be improved as an answer by including a supporting reference or two. Dec 15, 2020 at 21:01
  • Never heard of this, why inverse hexagon and not triangle?
    – Justin
    Dec 15, 2020 at 21:02
  • @justin it has 6 sides, not 3, I think that makes it an irregular hexagon
    – JeffUK
    Dec 16, 2020 at 0:48
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    I think, like "3-pronged star", that would be a better name for the second shape. From a geometric standpoint, if we're considering the first shape to have a width at all, it would be a 9-sided polygon. Dec 16, 2020 at 9:54

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