While browsing through the Wikipedia article on the percent sign (%), I came across this interesting statement (emphasis mine):

Names for the percent sign include percent sign (in ITU-T), mod, grapes (in hacker jargon), and the humorous double-oh-seven (in INTERCAL).

Since the claim had a "citation needed" tag, I originally assumed it was a random fact found through original research. However, after a quick Google search, I found this entry from a book titled The New Hacker's Dictionary, compiled by Eric S. Raymond and originally published in 1996 (emphasis mine):

%       Common: percent; <percent sign>; mod; grapes. Rare: [double-oh-seven].

Further searching only produced more books with almost the exact same entry as the one above, and I could not find a source that documented how and why "grapes" came to be associated with the percent sign. So my question is: what is the origin of "grapes" meaning the percent sign?


1 Answer 1


The second commenter appears to be right. All mentions seem to link back to The New Hacker's Dictionary (The Jargon File) (1991), page 45:

in which it takes up but a single-word mention, as one of a few names for the percent sign. That publication is the only one substantially mentioning "hacker" and "jargon" together and is likely where the Wikipedia editor got their edit.

First commenter is also likely right in that it has to do with the visual resemblance to a bunch of grapes.

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