I am wondering if there is a symbol or glyph to represent the conjunct "and/or". I doubt there is a formal, de jure symbol (i.e., found in any manual of style or dictionary), but I cannot even find any references to de facto usages, nor even invented symbols for it.

Is the virgule the only symbol for it? Is there no other shorthand to represent the concept? Is that sufficient to capture the full meaning (either one or both) of the pair? (If so, I find it peculiar that the virgule is already present in "and/or", and yet can take the place of the whole construct.)

There are a couple of questions regarding "and/or" here, and some of them come peripherally close, but none of them quite touch on this issue.

  • Even though there may be many comparable questions e.g. about ampersand, copyright, percentage, typesetting marks (I see them in the right sidebar of the page now!) you might check on Writers SE to see if this subject is on topic there. I'm not down voting or suggesting closing or being discouraging. Just a thought. (I really like seeing your devilish little profile image on EL&U, it is extremely cute.) – Ellie Kesselman Jun 24 '12 at 11:03
  • The right symbol for and/or is ALL! – Manoochehr Jun 24 '12 at 15:44

There is a symbol for it in predicate logic.

"And/or" is just called "or" and is represented as , from the Latin vel meaning or. But note that it's a separate symbol from the letter "v", though similar.

In contrast, "or" in the sense of "this one or that one but never both" is called "exclusive or" or "xor" and can be symbolized as or .

Also, in programming you might see "and/or" represented as | or as ||, and "xor" represented as ^. Which confusingly looks a lot like , used in logic to mean "and".

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  • Yes, as a programmer, I am familiar with logical operators. I was wondering more about something that would be used in prose to avoid verbose sentences of the form one of this or that or this or that but not both. – Synetech Jun 24 '12 at 15:26
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    @Synetech Aha. Since you were very explicitly asking for a symbol, I thought this was what you were after. I suppose "A and/or B", "A, B or both" and "either A or B" are about as succinct as non-logical English gets if you don't want the ambiguity of just "or". – Henrik N Jun 24 '12 at 15:41
  • @HenrikN: Is that symbol for "xor" a "v" with an underline or a logical OR with an underline? – SarahofGaia Aug 23 '15 at 19:52
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    @SarahofGaia The Wikipedia article suggests it's an underlined logical OR. – Henrik N Aug 23 '15 at 20:09

The virgule is used only when indicating a line break in an inline quotation.

There is no symbol for "and/or" likely because in technical or scientific realms "or" means "just A, just B, or both A and B." Restated, "or" in technical realms is inclusive. "Exclusive or" or "xor" (pronounced eks-or) means only "just A or just B."

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  • > The virgule is used only when indicating a line break in an inline quotation. That may once have been, but today it is just a synonym for slash. – Synetech Jun 24 '12 at 6:10

I was always taught that "and/or" is vulgar and indeterminate, and to avoid using it, for some of the reasons "Xrayspec" and "Colecristensen" cite. (I wanted to post this as a comment, Lunivore, but I don't see that as an option.) This symbol is routinely misused as a general conjunction nowadays; it's used to join any two words, regardless of the nature of their relationship. I think it means "alternatives", not just "in addition to" (the most common misusage).

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  • Hmm, I don’t understand the confusion. I see it as clearly meaning one or more. The main problem comes when stringing together more than two items in that manner; it becomes quite unwieldy. – Synetech Oct 3 '12 at 17:09

As mentioned here, though "and/or" is logically just an "or", it differs much in daily contexts.

e.g. ...might be sentenced with a fine of $1000 and/or imprisonment upto 5 years.

I'd just like to suggest the usage of this for a symbol - &//

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    I'd disagree that "and/or" is logically just an "or." He might be sentenced with a fine or imprisonment means that if he is sentenced with anything, it will be either one or the other. He might be sentenced with a fine and/or imprisonment means that if he is sentenced with something, it could be one, the other, or both. – Nicole Apr 16 '15 at 14:42
  • @Nicole, but in logic (e.g. in programming contexts) or includes and. – Matt E. Эллен Apr 21 '15 at 19:58

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