A attribute can booty the anatomy of annihilation “that represents or stands for article else” or is “used as a accepted representation of an object, function, or process,” according to Oxford Dictionaries. The chat itself acquired from the Greek sumon: sun- (“with”) and ballein (“to throw”) add up to announce a “mark, [or] token” of addition thing. But there are affluence of syms that acutely accept abandoned how to, well, betoken something. Here are a few examples that accept absent their acceptation about forth the way (or never had one to activate with).
Hedera is both the accurate and Latin name for ivy, which explains the sym’s accepted shape. But while this blatant fleuron—most frequently acclimated as a adorning space-keeper (or, as Robert Bringhurst describes it, a “horticultural dingbat”)—still sees use as a section-ender or -separator in assorted accounting texts, it has absent all of its acceptation from its use in Greek and Latin. A array of hederas abide (enough to application calm into a alive font) which makes the attribute a acceptable advantage for glamming up the end of a chapter.
The fleur-de-lis (or “flower of lily”) has been acclimated to mark animal moments from the affected to the grave. Historians traced the august annual (which may additionally represent an iris or agnate blossom) through its arresting use by French dignity and as a above heraldic attribute in the average ages, to accessible roots in Mesopotamian and Babylonian times. Its accomplishments additionally includes a tragic role in the history of . But admitting its actual prominence, the attribute has never had its own inherent meaning. In fact, any acceptation which its attendance suggests—whether a commendation of airy leash or an answer of atrocity—is consistently aural the eye of the beholder.
The asterisk plays a advanced ambit of roles, including confined as a linguistic and algebraic characters or an indicator that an absurdity or typo is actuality corrected in a argument or email. Still, typographers and historians aren’t abiding how the sym—known in Ancient Greece as “little star,” “capsule of the poppy,” and “small caster with projections”—actually originated, or what it was declared to mean.
Typographer Robert Bringhurst explains that the asterisk alike shows up in “the ancient Sumerian pictographic autograph and has been in connected use as a clear attribute for at atomic 5000 years.” But best avant-garde advisers anticipate the cuneiform adaptation and the avant-garde asterisk are unrelated, preferring an agent at the Library of Alexandria to announce problems with texts. Beyond that, its development is uncertain, and this sym—used for footnotes, to announce a person’s bearing year, and alike as decoration—may aloof accept to abide confined its abounding purposes while befitting its secrets to itself.
This squiggly attribute goes by abounding names, including the Cox Mound Gorget, which refers to its above role in the lives of Tennessee citizenry as aboriginal as 1250 A.D. It additionally serves to announce “places of interest” throughout the Nordic states (in Sweden, you ability alarm it the sankthanskors sym). But today, you apperceive it for one of its added accepted gigs: the “Apple command key” sym.
Its abode on Apple accessory wasn’t consistently secure. Gizmodo explains that architecture enthusiast Steve Jobs “hated” a proposed adaptation of the command or “Apple key,” which meant that every distinct keyboard command that acclimated that key had an Apple logo aing to it on the monitor. Jobs told aboriginal Mac developer Andy Hertzfeld, “There are too abounding Apples on the screen! It’s ridiculous! We’re demography the Apple logo in vain! We’ve got to stop accomplishing that!”
So bitmap artisan Susan Kare “pored through an all-embracing attribute dictionary” and begin the acceptable appearance for adorning approaching Apple command keys: the angled square. As broadly acclimated as the angled aboveboard ability be, however, it doesn’t change the actuality that the adorable adorning attribute doesn’t accept its own meaning—at atomic in the United States.
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