from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.
- noun The symbol (#).
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.
- noun The hash or square symbol (
#), used mainly in telephony and computing
from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
The term octothorpe was coined by engineers at Bell Laboratories in the early 1960s, who wanted a name for one of two non-number function symbols on the first touch-tone keypads the other was the *, which they called a sextile.
The octothorpe is the essential symbol in the formation of a hashtag, a marker that allows 140-character tweets to be grouped together by subject
Once again, Quinion's World Wide Words explains the history: "octothorpe" was Bell Labs jargon for one of those two function keys on touch-tone telephones that got labeled with symbols instead of numbers.
There is also a deep look at the @ symbol's new-found stardom, the octothorpe enjoying a new lease of life renamed as the "hashtag" in Twitter parlance, and the secretive pilcrow.
Robert Bringhurst's The Elements of Typographic Style says the word "guillemet" honors the the sixteenth-century typecutter Guillaume le Bé. octothorpe: #
Some of my writing-group partners are no doubt baffled by my apparent love for the octothorpe.
The symbol on the “pound” key (#) is called an octothorpe.
I wonder, however, about the explanation for octothorpe given at the linked page in the entry above.
I wonder on what basis the AHD associates Oglethorpe with octothorpe.
And here's a funny discussion of the etymology of octothorpe.