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How do you correctly or erroneously pronounce programming terms? Any that you find need strict correction or history into the early CS culture?


char = "tchar" not care?

! = bang not exclamation?

# = pound not hash? Exception #! = shebang

* = splat not star?

regex = "rej ex" not "regg ex"?

sql = "s q l" not "sequel" (already answered, just i.e.)


| = pipe not vertical bar?

bin = bin as in pin , not as in binary?

lib = lib as in library , not as in liberate?

etc = "ett see" , not "e t c" (as in /etc and not "&c")


/ = slash not backslash

LaTeX = "laytek" not "lay teks"

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I pronounce etc et cetera. Maybe I'm an odd one out. – Matt Ellen Oct 22 '10 at 7:55
I pronounce char like I start the word “character.” Just makes more sense to me. And when I hear “pound”, I often think of £ and need to remind myself that a lot of folks mean the # character instead. Now, / is obviously not a backslash, that would be \. And I've yet to meet a native speaker of English who can pronounce TeX the way that Knuth's description calls for. :-) (But I guess native speaker of Greek would say the same thing about my pronunciation, so I'll keep quiet.) – Christopher Creutzig Oct 22 '10 at 8:11
Next time I have to pronounce the \* character, I will use the word 'splat'. XD – gablin Oct 22 '10 at 9:06
"Squirrel" for SQL. – Kramii Oct 22 '10 at 13:10
I always found it amusing that for time immemorial SCSI was pronounced "scuzzy" but Apple tried in the late 80s-early 90s to pronounce it as "sexy". They lost that battle. – Jesse C. Slicer Oct 22 '10 at 20:15

18 Answers 18

To summarize my own (North American) experience:

  • char may be pronounced both ways: like "char" in "charcoal", or close to "care"; never like "car"
  • ! is an "exclamation point"
  • # is a "pound sign" (probably an Americanism)
  • * is an "asterisk" (never in 15 years heard anyone call it "splat")
  • RegEx with a hard "g" because it's regular, not rejular.
  • SQL: heard both "ess-queue-ell" and "sequel"; but (Microsoft's) SQL Server is much more often pronounced "sequel server".
  • bin is like a recycle bin; not "bine"
  • LaTeX's ancestor is TeX. The "tech" pronunciation goes all the way back to TeX's creator Donald Knuth. Actually the X was supposed to sound more like the German "ch" in Bach. "La-tech" is the only way LaTeX is pronounced in the US research community; if you pronounce it like a sort of rubber, you give away that you don't belong to it.
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agree with all of yours – tcrosley Oct 28 '10 at 20:54
Huh. I always pronounce char like car. – Christian Mann Oct 29 '10 at 4:07
No, it's 'asterik'. – Michael K Nov 4 '10 at 14:45
Wow, I've never heard "bine". – Mark C Jan 9 '11 at 3:42
# is hash. £ is pound. – kadaj Jan 10 '11 at 7:16

Obviously quite a few people haven't done their homework and read the comp.lang.c infrequently asked questions list. Otherwise, they'd know how to pronounce char:

19.26: How do you pronounce ``char''?

Like the first word of ``char *''. The accent is generally on the first syllable.

Some other pieces are funnier:

17.6: What's this ``white space'' I keep hearing about?

White space is a racist, segregational term. Implicitly, "dark" or "colored" space (i.e., the '_' character) is not good enough to separate tokens. More interestingly, the white space characters keep the other tokens apart. They say it's for parsing, but there's ample evidence the goal of white space is to keep the other characters from "taking over" the program. This is disguised by the description of C as "white space insensitive" - a simple ploy for sympathy.

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# = Hash (£ is a pound sign)

! = Pling

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Pling? Plastic bling? Whaaa? – Incognito Oct 22 '10 at 18:02
It come from the BCPL programming language - one of the precursors of C. – ʎəʞo uɐɪ Oct 22 '10 at 19:10
+1 for pling. I miss pling. It was the official name of the "!" operator in BBC BASIC. – Kramii Oct 29 '10 at 6:38
This goes back to the Cambridge origins of the BBC microcomputer and the fact that around that time (I am of that vintage) the computer science course at the university involved a lot of work in BCPL. I assume that they carried the name over. – ʎəʞo uɐɪ Oct 29 '10 at 7:37

We're a very international shop: there is no correct way, as long as we all understand each other.

Annoyance: # is hash in proper British English (and how we use it): £ or lb is pound to Europeans.

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I don't deal with all these all the time but...


char = "tchar" not care?

hard c like car (because it comes from "character")

! = bang not exclamation?

I'm just used to calling this exclamation - where did "bang" come from? Must be an Americanism.

# = pound not hash? Exception #! = shebang

hash - again, pound is an Americanism

* = splat not star?

star, or asterisk

regex = "rej ex" not "regg ex"?

rejex - hard g here just sounds weird

sql = "s q l" not "sequel" (already answered, just i.e.)

Both depending on what mood I'm in. Normally, I say "Sequel Server", "My Sequel", but "S Q L" when on its own


| = pipe not vertical bar?

pipe, though I used to call it vertical bar.

bin = bin as in pin , not as in binary?

bin as in that's where all my junk goes :)

lib = lib as in library , not as in liberate?

lib as in liberate because saying "libe" just sounds wrong. Sounds like I'm trying to say "lube" in an Australian accent

etc = "ett see" , not "e t c"

et cetera, but I'm not a unix guy mainly so I could be wrong with that


/ = slash not backslash

slash or forward slash.

LaTeX = "laytek" not "lay teks"

as in latex since that's how it's spelt - maybe you can use it with your lib from above.

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"bang" is a common older Unixism, not Americana I don't think. – Xepoch Oct 22 '10 at 14:40
Right, but where did it come from in Unix - what made some Unix bod look at the venerable exclamation mark and decide to call it a "bang"? Did it make his machine explode in a shower of fireworks? – JohnL Oct 22 '10 at 15:05 doesn't quite say. – Xepoch Oct 22 '10 at 19:52
Oh well one of life's little mysteries, eh? – JohnL Oct 22 '10 at 22:07
I am not an american fun but, where do you OS come from ? – omeid Dec 15 '10 at 4:36

I use the following:

  • char: "char", as in "charbroiled". It rhymes nicely with "star", so "char *" comes off as "char star".
  • !: Intriguing; I'm not sure I've ever pronounced this aloud. I'd probably say "exclamation point", to be honest, just to be clear.
  • #: "Hash", although sometimes in my head I also say "number".
  • *: "Star"
  • Regex: "REG-ex". It's interesting, since "regular" has a hard g, but I suppose the soft g flows better.
  • SQL: Maybe I differ from most people, but I say "sequel", except in the case of PostgreSQL. I've heard you can tell on what RDBMS programmers cut their teeth, as those who learned on SQL Server tend to say "sequel" and everyone else tends to say "ess cyoo ell". Not sure if that's true, but it's true in my case. :)
  • |: "Pipe". Duh. :)
  • bin: "bin" rhymes with "pin"
  • lib: "lib" as in "liberate"
  • etc: "ets-see", as in "slash ets-see". :)
  • /: "Slash". It annoys me when people call it a backslash, too -- so much that I wrote a blog post about it many moons ago.
  • LaTeX: I say "LUH-tech".

I'll throw another one in the mix:

  • Mac OS X: It's "Mac OS Ten", not "Mac OS Ex" :)
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+1 adding OSX :) – Xepoch Oct 22 '10 at 14:58
The first time I saw it, I thought "LAY-tex". Now I say "LAY-tech". No need to be pretentious. If we were going for accuracy in Greek we should be saying "ahlfa", "veeta", "ghamma", "eeta, zeeta, theeta", and "mee", "nee", "khchi". – Mark C Jan 9 '11 at 3:41

I learned most of my programming lingo from my roommate in college who was also a CS major. Only thing he did "wrong" was intentionally pronounce "sql" as "ess coo ell":

regex: regg exx

lib: as in liberation (from Windows)

bin: as in clothesbin

etc: et cetera (from the Latin and so on)

|: pipe

#!: the "bang line"

#: hatch mark

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"etc: et cetera (from the Latin and so on)" actually, et cetera in latin litteraly means "and other things" – Federico Culloca Oct 22 '10 at 17:03
Perhaps the pronunciation of SQL should read "ess-kyoo-ELL" (unless that is e.g. a German speaking). – Mark C Jan 9 '11 at 3:45
@Mark: Nope. That was the point of my putting it in quotes; it's an intentional mispronunciation. "Kyoo" would be the right way. – amphetamachine Feb 13 '11 at 7:08

char = character

! = exclamation

# = hash

* = Star

regex= rej x

sql = S Q L

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So what do you call #!? – Xepoch Oct 22 '10 at 15:18
It took me a while before I realized what Squillman's name meant. – Mark C Jan 9 '11 at 3:44

char = "tchar"

! = punto esclamativo (in Italian)

# = "sharp" or I strangely say 'S' (like 'ess') if it's a C preprocessor statement O_O

#! = shebang

* = asterisco (italian again)

regex = "rej ex"?

sql = "s q l" or "sequel"


| = pipe?

bin = bin as in pin

lib = lib as in liberty?

etc = "etch"


/ = slash (and it's correct, this -> \ is the backslash

LaTeX = "latek"

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Backslash? Are you serious? Its name is "barra retroversa"!!! :-) – Wizard79 Oct 22 '10 at 11:26
@Lorenzo, I finally found a workplace where variable names are in Italian! And all variables are global! This is just hilarious! Anyway LOL for 'barra retroversa' XD – Federico Culloca Oct 22 '10 at 16:58

GUID. I've heard some people say G-U-I-D, some people pronouncing it rhyming with "fluid" and some people pronouncing it rhyming with "squid".

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This can also be called the number sign or octothorpe for another couple of answers.


These are "angle brackets" usually now though growing up I knew them as less than and greater than respectively.

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GUI: gee-you-eye vs. "gooey". I always assumed it was the former, but I've heard several people (with far more professional credentials than mine, that being "barely amateur") refer to it the other way.

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"Gooey" is just so much easier to say. Consider: "Z-I-P drive", "S-C-S-I". – Mark C Jan 9 '11 at 3:35
CSI investigators say "gooey". – Joey Adams Jan 10 '11 at 4:11
Even I tell it as Gooey !! – kadaj Jan 10 '11 at 7:17
I never used to like "gooey" but its grown on me recently, it is much easier to say – Jake Jan 10 '11 at 14:07

Not really programming, but it bugs me when Americans say "Router" (first syllable rhymes with "out"), while Europeans say "Root-er".

I know that is based on how American's say "Route", but then why is the song Route 66 sung like it is?

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This gets me too, although I don't think many Americans pronounce the 'e' either, so it's more like rowt-r. To be fair, many Brits say root-uh or root-ah, some with more of a grunt than others. – Alan Pearce Oct 22 '10 at 9:49
Luckily, living in the States, you can say either pronunciation and you'll be understood just fine, but Americana can't be judged by songwriters in 1946. – Xepoch Oct 22 '10 at 14:37
Pronouncing "route" as "root" (despite pronouncing "router" as "rowter") is more common in the Northeast. Ask anyone from Connecticut, what's the most dangerous road in their state - "Root Six." – azheglov Oct 22 '10 at 15:38
The root vs. rowt depends on region and context. For instance I may ask, "Which root did you drive going across country?", but ask, "Which rowt did you take home from work?" – mellowsoon Oct 22 '10 at 18:56

At a former job, we had a religious flamewar around the pronunciation of GIF. I argued that the G should be a hard-G because it represents the word Graphics. My colleagues argued that since the G is in front of an I, it should be a soft-G as in giraffe. They further argued that the creator of the format pronounces with a soft-G so we should take that as the final proof.

So, at that job, I was the author of our Output Run-Time module, abbreviated ORT. As the creator, I demanded that it be pronounced GIF with a hard-G. Some people hated me.

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I've always pronounced it jiff, and I'll throw down with anyone that pronounces it differently! haha Like your coworkers, I chose to pronounce it that way because the creator meant for it to be said that way. – mellowsoon Oct 22 '10 at 18:46
I always said "jif" as that is what it was called in my circle of BBS SysOps. – Xepoch Oct 22 '10 at 22:09
Now did you pronounce SysOp as "Sis-Opp" or "Sye-Sopp"? Sadly, I have heard both. – Jesse C. Slicer Oct 22 '10 at 22:15
@John: "Jif" in the former colonies is a peanut butter. Not too good with lemon :) – Jesse C. Slicer Oct 22 '10 at 22:16
How do your colleagues pronounce "gift", "gill", and "git"? – saus Aug 12 '11 at 4:04

char = 'chaar' as in 'the charred remains of the pointy-haired boss were found in the server room'

! = 'bang' if i'm talking to a linux/unix geek, 'exclamation mark' if i'm talking to a normal person

# = 'pound' if i'm talking to a programmer, 'number sign' for everyone else

#! = hash-bang if i'm talking to a Perlie, no need to say this to anyone else

* = asterisk, occasionally star

regex = regg as in reggae, ex as in ex-employee

sql = SQUEAL

| = 'pipe' when talking to systems programmers, 'vertical bar' for normal people

bin = 'bin' as in 'bin thar, dun that'

lib = 'lib' as in liberation

etc = et cetera

/ = forward slash, so there's no ambiguity

LaTeX = lahy tehx, since I'm Southern

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Q: What do Irish Perl programmers eat for breakfast? A: Bangers and hash! – Mark C Jan 9 '11 at 3:33

Watching the NFL Playoffs and saw that Audible Pepsi commercial and they said “backslash” and i about flipped! I get really bothered by this, so i decided to look it up and see if I’m the only one. Glad to see I’m not! What really bothers me is if you don’t even know, why would you even say “back” before you say “slash”? If I don’t know what color my boss’s car is but I know it’s a, say, Grand Am, I’m not going to say “My boss will be showing up in a red Grand Am.” I’d leave the “red” out of it! If you don’t know, just leave the “back” out of it! I wouldn't mind as much if they called a backslash a "slash", at least it's some kind of slash! What do they call a backslash? Sorry, it’s a pet peeve.

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Probably a hypercorrection, because it sounds more "computery". – Jon Purdy Jan 9 '11 at 3:35
People who learned MS-DOS ages ago became accustomed to saying "backslash" because they were typing them. I think it comes from vague memories of a "backslash" being a computer thing as a result. – Matthew Frederick Jan 10 '11 at 10:31

I taught myself programming and as a result I learned a ton of new words, without ever hearing people pronounce them. For instance, It wasn't until after programming for about 4 years(my senior year in high school) that I learned that syntax is sin-tax, not sine-tax.

Some things i consider a bit odd for me:

* = star (C code like *x=10 I pronounce like 'star Ex equals 10')

stdio = es-studio

stdlib = es-tee-dee-lib (lib as in libertarian)

# was pound to me until I started using C#, not I pronounce it both pound and sharp when reading code

& = and, including when it's really the address of operator

$ = string. This is from the first programming language I used(DarkBasic) where variable names prefixed with $ were string variables.

% = percent

! = not (even when reading command lines and such)

SQL = Sequel since last year where I started using it cause it's a lot easier for me to say than S Q L

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I've taken up pronouncing fmt as "fumt" thanks to the Google Tech Talk "The Go Programming Language". Likewise, I pronounce stdio as "stəd-AYE-oh".

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