why is the pound sign called a hashtag

The symbol known as the hashtag (#) in Twitter has a history of different names and uses in American English, including
pound sign used after a number to mean weight in pounds, number sign used in front of a number to mean number (as in "Please review item #2 on the list"), crosshatch, and hash mark. In addition to the symbol, the term hash mark can also refer to a set of stripes on a soldier s sleeve that indicate a number of years of service in the military, or to lines on a football field. The word hashtag, used to refer to the symbol (#) in Twitter, is a combination of the word hash from hash mark and the word tag, a way to mark something as belonging to a specific category. As many of you probably know, using a hashtag in Twitter helps categorize your message and makes it possible for others to find your tweet when they search for messages on the same topic.

If you include the hashtag #snowden in your tweet, for example, anyone who searches for #snowden in Twitter will see your tweet. Hashtags make it easy to quickly find messages about a topic that interests you. I hope this helps. The word hashtag has officially been added to the Oxford English Dictionary, the OED announced in a blog Friday. But that s not the most exciting thing in its announcement. The word hashtag denotes the symbol deployed in front of a word or phrase on social media to loop the post into a wider conversation on the topic but it has #already taken on a #life of its own, used in #some #cases as a self-referential #joke or to #make #fun of #people whose social posts are #so2011.

But you, sophisticated TIME reader, already knew all of that. What you may not have known is that there was already a word for hashtag. And it isn t the number sign or the pound sign, as it was called back in the #DarkAges before Twitter. The technical term for a hashtag is octothorp, according to the OED; octo, in reference to the eight points in the figure, and Thorpe, from the surname Thorpe. Whatever that means. Hash probably arose as an alteration of hatch, OED says in its blog post, originally in the phrase hatch mark. By 1961 hash was being used in computing contexts to refer to the octothorp symbol, especially in computing and telecommunications contexts. #FarOut, right?

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