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Asterisk

From Academic Kids

This article refers to the asterisk symbol. For other uses, see Asterisk (disambiguation).
Punctuation marks

apostrophe ( ' ) ( )
brackets ( ( ) ) ( [ ] ) ( { } ) ( Template:Unicode )
colon ( : )
comma ( , )
dashes ( Template:Unicode ) ( ) ( ) ( )
ellipsis ( ) ( ... )
exclamation mark ( ! )
full stop/period ( . )
hyphen ( - ) ( Template:Unicode )
interrobang ( Template:Unicode )
question mark ( ? )
quotation marks ( ‘ ’ ) ( “ ” )
semicolon ( ; )
slash/solidus ( / )
space (   ) and interpunct ( )

Other typographer's marks

ampersand ( & )
asterisk ( * ) and asterism ( Template:Unicode )
at ( @ )
backslash ( \ )
bullet ( , more )
dagger ( † ‡ )
degrees ( ° )
number sign ( # )
prime ( )
tilde ( ~ )
underscore ( _ )
vertical bar/pipe ( | )

An asterisk (*) is a typographical symbol or glyph. It is so called because it resembles a conventional image of a star (Latin astrum). Computer scientists often pronounce it as star (as, for example, in the A* algorithm).

The asterisk derives from the need of the printers of family trees in feudal times for a symbol to indicate date of birth. The original shape was six-armed, each arm like a teardrop shooting from the center. For this reason, in some computer circles it is called a splat, perhaps due to the "squashed-bug" appearance of the asterisk on many early line printers.

In this form the character appeared in typewriters. However, some typewriters had difficulty printing the six arms distinctly. Furthermore, due to Arab-Israeli tension, many Arabs would not buy typewriters with a six-armed symbol, which they identified with the Star of David on the Israeli flag. Hence many systems use a five-armed symbol, referred to as the "Arabic star", and given a distinct character in Unicode, U+066D (٭).

Uses of the asterisk include:

In fine mathematical typography the Unicode character U+2217 (∗) "math asterisk" is available (HTML entity ∗). This character, also appeared in the position of the regular asterisk in the PostScript symbol character set in the Symbol font included with Windows and Macintosh operating systems and with many printers. It should be used in fine typography for a large asterisk that lines up with the other mathematical operators.

A group of three asterisks arranged in a triangular formation is called an asterism.

The asterisk and computing

In computer programming, the asterisk corresponds to Unicode and ASCII character 42, or 0x002A.

Unicode also encodes "two asterisks aligned vertically" as the character U+2051. The asterism is encoded as U+2042. There are also many other asterisk-like characters.

An old joke Question: Why is an asterisk sometimes called a "Nathan Hale"? Answer: Because just before being hanged for espionage, Hale's real last words were, "I only regret that I have but one * for my country!"


* ⁎ ⁑ ∗ ⊛ ✢ ✣ ✤ ✥ ✱ ✲ ✳ ✺ ✻ ✼ ✽ ❃ ❉ ❊ ❋ ⧆ ⩮ ﹡ * de:Asterisk_(Schriftzeichen) ja:アスタリスク nl:Asterisk

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