Straightforward Tilde
7th September 2018


The best clue to the origin of the tilde is found in the King James Bible. Matthew 5:18, Jesus says to his disciples: For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

It is the Greek translation of jot and tittle that eventually lead to early Latinate languages placing a dash or ‘~’ above a vowel to indicated the omission of a following n or m — a so-called nasal consonant.

In modern English it’s used to indicate “approximately” (e.g., ~40) or “equivalence” (x ~ y) in mathematics.
In the world of socail media it has been used to denote sleazy, sordid, or otherwise base behaviour!

Sadly the Tilde has been in steady decine for years, maybe Adam Sternbergh is right when he said: “The 3,000-year-old tilde might want to consider rebranding itself as Invisible Man With Twirled Mustache.”