The word hashtag has officially been added to the Oxford English Dictionary, the OED announced in a blog post Friday. But that’s not the most exciting thing in its announcement.
The word hashtag denotes the symbol deployed in front of a word or phrase on social media to loop the post into a wider conversation on the topic but it has #already taken on a #life of its own, used in #some #cases as a self-referential #joke or to #make #fun of #people whose social posts are #so2011.
But you, sophisticated TIME reader, already knew all of that. What you may not have known is that there was already a word for hashtag. And it isn’t the “number sign” or the “pound sign,” as it was called back in the #DarkAges before Twitter.
The technical term for a hashtag is “octothorp,” according to the OED; octo, in reference to the eight points in the figure, and Thorpe, OED says cryptically, from “the surname Thorpe.” Whatever that means.
“Hash probably arose as an alteration of ‘hatch’,” OED says in its blog post, “originally in the phrase ‘hatch mark’. By 1961 hash was being used in computing contexts to refer to the octothorp symbol, especially in computing and telecommunications contexts.”
- The Case for Mediocrity
- How Russia Is Recruiting Cubans to Fight in Ukraine
- Paul Hollywood Answers All of Your Questions About The Great British Baking Show
- Meet the 2023 TIME100 Next: the Emerging Leaders Shaping the World
- Oprah and Arthur C. Brooks: How to Separate Work From Your Identity
- How Canada and India's Relationship Crumbled
- You Don’t Have to Like Wrestling to Love Netflix’s Excellent Wrestlers
- The Most Anticipated Books, Movies, TV, and Music of Fall 2023
- Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time