In the UK the word hash refers to this symbol: #

What symbol does 'hash' refer to in US English?

And what word is used to describe the '£' symbol?

      US     British
#     pound  hash
£     ?      pound
?     hash  
  • 1
    Why do you think Americans call any symbol "hash"? 🥔 – Peter Shor Aug 16 '18 at 20:26
  • 2
    The # is also known as a hash in the U.S., but whether it is called a hash sign, pound sign, number sign, crosshatch, octatherp, and so on depends on how it is used. £ is rarely encountered outside of financial publications and there is rarely a need to refer to the symbol as opposed to what it represents, but it might be read aloud as pounds, British pounds, pounds sterling, and so on depending on context. – choster Aug 16 '18 at 20:30
  • 1
    @choster I’m with Peter: I’ve never heard any symbol called a hash in the US; the # symbol is universally the number sign or the pound sign. – tchrist Aug 16 '18 at 21:21
  • 1
    @tchrist I work in software and, perhaps because of the South Asian presence in the office, we do say hash or hash mark for this symbol, as in you can comment out those lines by putting a hash in front of them. This is similar to the use of bang for exclamation point or pipe for vertical bar. – choster Aug 16 '18 at 21:50
  • 1
    @choster Yeah scripting languages you comment out with # by "pounding out" here, but we've always said pound-define and pound-include for #define and #include under C or C++, least 'round these parts. – tchrist Aug 16 '18 at 21:59


The symbol # is most commonly known as the number sign,[1] hash,[2] or pound sign.[3]

If I give my address as: 436 Main Street # 201, that is read "number".

If I add to my Facebook post #MeToo, that is a "hash tag"

If I write 5# of potatoes, I read it "5 pounds".

All of these are used in the US.

For £, I would probably say "Pounds Sterling" or "British Pounds" or something.

Request in a comment for reference on # for pounds ...
It seems to have been used only in America. Nowadays it is mostly gone, except occasionally for hand-written signs.

Lots of historical examples are found HERE

For example, this one dates from 1850.
enter image description here
At the top, 7-1/4 pounds of nais; at the bottom, 6 pounds of nails.

  • It might be worth mentioning that the main context where the # is called a pound sign is on telephone keypads, where there's no chance of confusion with British currency. (And it's also sometimes called a tic-tac-toe board.) – 1006a Aug 16 '18 at 20:34
  • @1006a You see # to mean pound used on hand-written signs at roadside produce stands. Programmers always call it pound but for telephones it’s just number. I’ve never heard anybody call it hash who wasn’t some young eurotwitter junkie. It’s almost like that’s an import, not native. – tchrist Aug 16 '18 at 20:42
  • 1
    @tchrist Yes, that's mostly my experience, too, except that I now hear hash tag quite a lot. On the subject of "pound", I meant to distinguish when you would read the symbol as saying pound (as in "$1 for 5#" or similar) and when you would actually talk about the symbol-as-symbol and call it a pound sign (mostly in contexts like "enter your sixteen-digit personal code followed by the pound sign"). That phrase seems a little more ambiguous to me outside the context of automated phone trees, but totally unambiguous within that context. – 1006a Aug 16 '18 at 21:52
  • In business, on orders for products and suchlike the pound sign refers to a number. It stands then for the word number. – Lambie Aug 17 '18 at 16:50
  • Can you give a reference for '5# of potatoes'? I've never seen it used like that. – DJClayworth Aug 17 '18 at 20:49

@choster I live in the US and I've seen the # called a hashtag both on Twitter and Facebook. As for the £ symbol, which is not included in the American computer keyboard, I heard of it as a pound sign on in finance language teaching books.

  • The number sign # is most definitely not a hashtag, the twitter messaging address. – Lambie Aug 17 '18 at 16:42
  • 1
    Please do not leave a comment as an answer. – Arm the good guys in America Aug 17 '18 at 20:15

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.