Associated Topics || Dr. Math Home || Search Dr. Math

### Division Symbols

```
Date: 10/23/98 at 11:35:23
From: Sandra Elsea
Subject: Division (name of symbol)

What is the name of the symbol used in division problems written in
this form?
____
6)54

My students and I have looked in all the resources we have at our
school and can't locate the information. I only remember that it has
a particularly odd name. Can you help us out?
```

```
Date: 10/23/98 at 13:16:55
From: Doctor Peterson
Subject: Re: Division (name of symbol)

Hi, Sandra. As far as I have been able to search, no one has a real
name for that symbol. My own feeling is that it is not so much a
symbol as a tool for doing the calculation.

The other symbols for division do have names, and they're all odd:

1 / 2    The slanted line in 1/2 is called a virgule or solidus.

1 -:- 2  The division symbol that looks like a hyphen with dots
above and below, of which this is a poor approximation, is
called an obelus.

1      The horizontal line used in a fraction is sometimes called
---     a vinculum, though that more properly applies to cases
2      where a line is made over something to hold it together,
as in a square root, or a repeating fraction. I just call
it a fraction bar.

You might be able to call the horizontal line in the division symbol a
vinculum, but I don't think there is a name for the whole thing. In
fact, in the following page about the history of symbols, it is not
named, but drawn,  and the alternate text in the HTML calls it "a
close parenthesis attached to a vinculum"!  See Jeff Miller's "Earliest
Uses of Symbols of Operation":

http://jeff560.tripod.com/operation.html

- Doctor Peterson, The Math Forum
http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
```
Associated Topics:
Elementary Definitions
Elementary Division
Middle School Definitions
Middle School Division

Search the Dr. Math Library:

 Find items containing (put spaces between keywords):   Click only once for faster results: [ Choose "whole words" when searching for a word like age.] all keywords, in any order at least one, that exact phrase parts of words whole words

Submit your own question to Dr. Math
Math Forum Home || Math Library || Quick Reference || Math Forum Search