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Is there a name for this mark? It sits below a letter as a means of showing an abbreviation. (In this case, Established abbreviated to Estd.)

I've seen it used in the form below in place of an apostrophe for a contraction. Frequently, it's used to abbreviate William to Wm.

I know there's a diacritic mark called an underdot, but I'm not sure this qualifies as a diacritic since it's not meant to influence sound value of the words.

It's some sort of stylized period (full stop for my British friends). But, I'm wondering if there's a term for using it to raise the letter above it in this usage.

Raised letter diacritic

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    It's a stylised underline. From Wikipedia: The practice of underlined (or doubly underlined) superscripted abbreviations was common in 19th-century writing. Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 17:46
  • @FumbleFingers This is clearly correct. Please turn that into an answer and I'll accept it.
    – David M
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 17:48

1 Answer 1

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It's a stylised underline. From Wikipedia...

The practice of underlined (or doubly underlined) superscripted abbreviations was common in 19th-century writing.

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  • This suggests the question of why and how this became the convention? When did it change to the use of apostrophes?
    – David M
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 17:53
  • I'd guess the underline became the convention in the context of medieval scribes or earlier. Paper & ink being relatively expensive, they'd be under pressure to abbreviate and write extra small letters in many "predictable" contexts. Retaining the underline for such condensed lettering (such as might have been used temporarily for alignment of the main text, but then erased) looks like an obvious way to improve legibility in such contexts. But less necessary as we get progressively more accurately printed text through C19. Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 12:18

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