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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.

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    @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). – Martin Ender Aug 13 '16 at 21:12
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    In 3-D it’s a corner – Jim Aug 13 '16 at 21:24
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    It's a classic flux capacitor. – Dan Bron Aug 13 '16 at 21:55
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    It's a linear (i.e, uncurved, unbent) Triskelion. – John Lawler Aug 13 '16 at 22:35
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    In heraldry, it is called a pall reversed. – Phil Sweet Aug 14 '16 at 1:29
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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'.

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    True, there are a lot of hits. How about including one that closely matches the OP's diagram? – ab2 Aug 13 '16 at 22:36
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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.

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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.

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    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 '16 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 '16 at 16:48
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Try caltrop, it's the first thing that came to my head. A google image search will show you they generally look like this from the side. In fact, nearly your exact representation is used in a wikipedia article section about their use as a symbol.

Edit:

Ah, just noticed you were saying you didn't want something like the second picture, but the first, which my answer doesn't really help with.

enter image description here

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    Caltrops are three-dimensional, not two-dimensional. – John Lawler Aug 14 '16 at 4:02
  • Yes they are, but it was also the first thing that came to my mind. And as a symbol, they are often shown as above. It's what I was chasing when I stumbled across pall. It's likely the most widely known of the terms listed so far. And its handy because of the built-in orientation bias. – Phil Sweet Aug 14 '16 at 14:18

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