oc·​to·​thorpe | \ ˈäk-tə-ˌthȯrp How to pronounce octothorpe (audio) , -tō- \
variants: or octothorp

Definition of octothorpe

: the symbol #

Did You Know?

Stories abound about who first called the # sign an "octothorpe" (which can also be spelled "octothorp"). Most of those tales link the name to various telephone workers in the 1960s, and all claim the "octo-" part refers to the eight points on the symbol, but the "thorpe" remains a mystery. One story links it to a telephone company employee who happened to burp while talking about the symbol with co-workers. Another relates it to the athlete Jim Thorpe, and a third claims it derives from an Old English word for "village." If the plethora of theories leaves your head spinning, you might want to take the advice of the wag who asked (poetically), "Can we simply just say, / Ere it spoils your day, / It's the thorp between seven and nine?"

First Known Use of octothorpe

1971, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for octothorpe

octo- + thorp, of unknown origin; from the eight points on its circumference

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The first known use of octothorpe was in 1971

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Cite this Entry

“Octothorpe.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/octothorpe. Accessed 22 January 2020.

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