Why is there a | in $?
June 30, 2008 7:31 AM   Subscribe

Why do so many currency symbols contain a vertical or horizontal slash?

Half or more of the circulating currencies listed on wikipedia have a slash in them, including dollar (and cent), euro and yen. Is this a real convention or just coincidence? When and why did the convention arise?
posted by jepler to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would imagine that it's a lot to do with distinguishing the symbol from a normal letter.

The pound sign, for instance, is basically an 'L' (from librum). The dollar sign, whilst not actually specifically from an 'S', looks like one. And once one a few currency symbols had established a system, it presumably became the default for new currencies.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:45 AM on June 30, 2008

Here it says that the slash would often be used to represent abbreviations.
posted by kosmonaut at 7:58 AM on June 30, 2008

Perhaps it has to do with the solidus.
posted by zamboni at 8:04 AM on June 30, 2008

AFAIR, the dollar sign originates from coins produced in the Mediterranean region hundreds of years ago; the coins featured a symbol representing the Pillars of Hercules (hence the horizontal stroke or strokes) with a ribbon or banner winding between them in an S-shape (hence the S-like curve).
posted by macdara at 9:02 AM on June 30, 2008

I would assume that many other currency symbols were based on that of the dollar, since many have also assumed the name (hard to believe that the original 'Tolar' had as much influence as the US dollar has).
posted by macdara at 9:04 AM on June 30, 2008

From Wikipedia:

"The most widely accepted explanation is that the dollar sign derives from the Spanish coat of arms engraved on the Spanish colonial silver coins "Real de a Ocho" ("piece of eight") or Spanish dollar under circulation in the Spanish colonies of America and Asia, as well as in the English Thirteen Colonies and later the U.S. and Canada."
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:10 AM on June 30, 2008

le morte and kosmo have it--to distinguish the sign from a random letter. Reminds me of the probably now-obsolete practice in newsrooms of scribbling "lede" across copy that needs a lead written for it. The misspelling is intended to give pause to anyone who might be tempted to read it as an edit and actually insert the word "lead."
posted by Brian James at 12:59 PM on June 30, 2008

« Older VTIVX FOF FTW?   |   How DO you backup Windows XP? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.