We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a Virgule?

By Mark Wollacott
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A virgule is a forward slash used in three contexts in modern English. It is represented on the page by a ‘/’ symbol. The first function of the virgule is to separate alternatives in a sentence. The second is to replace ‘per’ in a sentence as with speeds. It is also used to separate lines of continuous verse.

The word virgule came to English from the French word ‘virgule’ with the same spelling. It originates from the classical Latin word ‘virgula’ meaning literally ‘little twig,’ but used to mean ‘punctuation.’ The root word of virgula is virga, meaning rod, twig or stick. The word was first used in English in 1837.

The slash was first used in Ancient Rome and can be found in both its literature and its inscriptions across the Roman Empire. Medieval manuscripts used the slash as a modern comma. Two concurrent virgules or // were used originally as dashes or –. They were later tipped horizontally to make the modern equals sign or =.

In modern English, the term virgule is only used with reference to English writing and punctuation. The forward slash is used in many other contexts including computers, math and Internet coding or markup language. When used in these contexts, it is called a ‘slash,’ or another term is used.

Virgules are used as alternatives to separate a pair of options when the answer is not known. Sometimes, this can be used for more than two options, but this is rare. Common examples used in English include ‘either/or’ and ‘and/or.’ It is used on answer sheets in surveys and school worksheets to separate a pair of answers such as ‘yes/no’ and ‘true/false.’

‘Per’ is replaced with the virgule in order to shorten a sentence and to provide a kind of abbreviation. A common 'per' replacement used in English concerns speeds. For example, miles per hour is replaced with miles/hour. As an alternative to the virgule, English speakers can use abbreviations such as mph instead of miles per hour.

Some poems are written in continuous verse. This means there are theoretical breaks between lines of verse, but when written, these lines are not cut and placed below one another, but continue along the page like lines of prose. The virgule in this context tells the reader when the end of a line is reached. They are also used in Anglo-Saxon and Norse poetry sometimes to separate half-lines.

Modern English has seen an irregular use of the virgule. While it is strictly limited to the three forms mentioned above, some English speakers use the virgule to separate two letter initialisms. Examples of this additional usage include w/o instead of without and o/o instead of over-operator.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.