apostrophe ( ’ ' )
brackets ( [ ], ( ), { }, ⟨ ⟩ )
colon ( : )
comma ( , )
dash ( , –, —, ― )
ellipsis ( …, ... )
exclamation mark ( ! )
full stop/period ( . )
guillemets ( « » )
hyphen ( -, )
question mark ( ? )
quotation marks ( ‘ ’, “ ” )
semicolon ( ; )
slash/stroke ( / )
solidus ( )
Word dividers
space ( ) ( ) ( ) (␠) (␢) (␣)
interpunct ( · )
General typography
ampersand ( & )
at sign ( @ )
asterisk ( * )
backslash ( \ )
bullet ( )
caret ( ^ )
copyright symbol ( © )
currency (generic) ( ¤ )
currency (specific)
฿ ¢ ₡ ₢ ₠ $ Indian Rupee symbol.svg ƒ ₲ ₴ ₭ ℳ ₥ ₦ ₰ £ ₨ ₪ Kazakhstani tenge symbol.svg ₩ ¥
dagger ( †, ‡ )
degree ( ° )
ditto mark ( )
inverted exclamation mark ( ¡ )
inverted question mark ( ¿ )
number sign/pound/hash ( # )
numero sign ( )
ordinal indicator ( º, ª )
percent etc. ( %, ‰, )
pilcrow ( )
prime ( )
registered trademark ( ® )
section sign ( § )
service mark ( )
sound recording copyright ( )
tilde ( ~ )
trademark ( )
underscore/understrike ( _ )
vertical/broken bar, pipe ( |, ¦ )
Uncommon typography
asterism ( )
tee ( )
up tack ( )
index/fist ( )
therefore sign ( )
because sign ( )
interrobang ( )
irony & sarcasm punctuation ( ؟ )
lozenge ( )
reference mark ( )
tie ( )

The tilde ( ˜ or ~; pronounced /ˈtɪldə/) is a grapheme with several uses. The name of the character comes from Spanish and Portuguese, from the Latin titulus meaning "title" or "superscription", though the term “tilde” has evolved and now has a different meaning in linguistics. The tilde is colloquially known as 'squiggle'.[1].

It was originally written over a letter as a mark of abbreviation, but has since acquired a number of other uses as a diacritic mark or a character in its own right. These are encoded in Unicode at U+0303 ̃combining tilde and U+007E ~tilde (as a spacing character). And there are more similar characters for different roles. Especially in lexicography the tilde as a separate character or swung dash () is used in dictionaries to indicate the omission of the entry word.[2] , and more.


Diacritical use

In languages, the tilde is used as a diacritical mark ( ˜ ) placed over a letter to indicate a change in pronunciation, such as nasalization.


It was first used in the polytonic orthography of Ancient Greek, as a variant of the circumflex, representing a rise in pitch followed by a return to standard pitch.


Carta marina showing Finnish economy, with the captions Hic fabricantur naves and Hic fabricantur bombarde abbreviated

Later, it was used to make abbreviations in medieval Latin documents. When an ‘n’ or ‘m’ followed a vowel, it was often omitted, and a tilde (i.e., a small ‘n’) was placed over the preceding vowel to indicate the missing letter – compare with the development of the umlaut as an abbreviation of ‘e’ – this is the origin of the use of tilde to indicate nasalization. The practice of using the tilde over a vowel to indicate omission of an "n" or "m" continued in printed books in French as a means of reducing text length until the 17th century. It was also used in Portuguese and Spanish.

The tilde was also used occasionally to make other abbreviations, such as over the letter "q" to signify the word que ("that").

In Portuguese the tilde, called "til," is placed over the letters A and O, although it was used over the letter U ("ũ") as an abbreviation for um ("one") during the Renaissance and shortly thereafter.[3]


It is also as a small "n" that the tilde originated when written above another letters, marking a Latin "n" which had been elided in old Galician-Portuguese. It indicates nasalization of the base vowel: mão "hand", from Lat. manu-; razões "reasons", from Lat. rationes. Current languages and alphabets in which the tilde is used as a sign of nasalization include:

In Breton, the symbol "ñ" after a vowel means that the letter "n" serves only to give the vowel a nasalised pronunciation, without being itself pronounced, as it normally is. For example "an" gives the pronunciation [ãn] whereas "añ" gives [ã].

Palatal n

The tilded "n" ("ñ", "Ñ") developed from the digraph "nn" in Spanish. In this language, ñ is considered a separate letter called eñe (IPA ['eɲe]), rather than a letter-diacritic combination; it is placed in Spanish dictionaries between the letters n and o. In addition, the word tilde can refer to any diacritic in this language; for example, the acute accent in José is also called a tilde in Spanish. Current languages in which the tilded "n" ("ñ") is used for the palatal nasal consonant /ɲ/ include:


In Vietnamese, a tilde over a vowel represents a dipping tone (ngã).

International Phonetic Alphabet

In phonetics, a tilde is used as a diacritic either placed above a letter, below it or superimposed onto the middle of it (see International Phonetic Alphabet → Diacritics):

Letter extension

In Estonian, the symbol "õ" stands for the close-mid back unrounded vowel, and it is considered an independent letter.

Other uses

Some languages and alphabets use the tilde for other purposes:

Similar characters

There are a number of similar characters; the Unicode characters similar to the tilde are:

Character Code point Name Comments
~ U+007E TILDE
⬚̃ U+0303 COMBINING TILDE Used for diacritics (shown combined)
⬚̴ U+0334 COMBINING TILDE OVERLAY Used for diacritics (shown combined)
⬚̰ U+0330 COMBINING TILDE BELOW Used for diacritics (shown combined)
U+223C TILDE OPERATOR Used in mathematics
U+301C WAVE DASH Used in Japanese for many various reasons[5]


The swung dash (~) is used in various ways in punctuation:


In some languages (though not English), a tilde-like wavy dash may be used as punctuation (instead of an unspaced hyphen or en-dash) between two numbers, to indicate a range rather than subtraction or a hyphenated number (such as a part number or model number). For example, 12~15 means "12 to 15", ~3 means "up to three" and 100~ means "100 and greater." Japanese and other East Asian languages almost always use this convention, but it is often done for clarity in some other languages as well. Chinese uses the wavy dash and full-width em dash interchangeably for this purpose. In English, the tilde is often used to express ranges and model numbers in electronics but rarely in formal grammar or type-set documents, as a wavy dash preceding a number sometimes represents an approximation (see the Mathematics section, below).


The wave dash (波ダッシュ nami dasshu?) is used for various purposes in Japanese, including to denote ranges of numbers, in place of dashes or brackets, and to indicate origin. The wave dash is also used to separate a title and a subtitle in the same line, as a colon is used in English.

When used in conversations via email or instant messenger it may be used as a sarcasm mark or, in East Asia, as an extension of the final syllable to produce the same effect as “whyyyyyy” with “why〜〜”. Used at the end of a word or sentence in text communications, it often denotes something said in a sing-song or playful voice, or similar to the use in instant messengers and email, depending on context. In some context, the tilde is used as a sign of lust or exhaustion, such as follows: "Hello there~." Generally symbolizing the sigh at the end of a lustful or exhausted voice.

Unicode and Shift JIS Encoding of Wave Dash

Correct JIS wave dash.
Incorrect Unicode wave dash.

In practice the full-width tilde (全角チルダ zenkaku chiruda?)—Unicode U+FF5E—is often used instead of the wave dash (波ダッシュ nami dasshu?)—Unicode U+301C—, because the Shift JIS code for the wave dash, 0x8160, which is supposed to be mapped to U+301C,[6][7] is not mapped to U+301C but mapped to U+FF5E[8] in Code page 932—Microsoft's Code page for Japanese, a widely-used extension of Shift JIS, in order to avoid the shape definition error in Unicode: the wave dash glyph in JIS/Shift JIS[9] is identical to the Unicode reference glyph for U+FF5E,[10] while the reference glyph for U+301C[11] was incorrectly turned upside down when Unicode imported the Jis wave dash. In other platforms such as Mac OS and Mac OS X, 0x8160 is correctly mapped to U+301C. It is generally difficult, if not impossible, for Windows users in Japan to type U+301C, especially in legacy, non-Unicode applications.

Nevertheless, the Japanese wave dash is still formally mapped to U+301C as of JIS X 0213. Those two code points have the identical or very similar glyph in several fonts, reducing the confusion and incompatibility.


In mathematics, the tilde operator (Unicode U+223C), sometimes referred to as a “twiddle”, is often used to denote an equivalence relation between two objects. Thus “x ~ y” means “x is equivalent to y”. (Note that this is usually quite different from stating that x equals y.) The expression “x ~ y” is sometimes read aloud as “x twiddles y”, perhaps as an analogue to the verbal expression of “x = y”.

There are two common contexts in which “~” is used to denote particular equivalence relations: It can be used to denote the asymptotical equality of two functions. For example, f(x) ~ g(x), means that limx→∞ f(x)/g(x) = 1.

In statistics and probability theory, ~ means “is distributed as”. See random variable. A tilde placed on top of a variable is sometimes used to represent the median of that variable.

There is also a triple-tilde, () which is often used to show congruence, an equivalence relation in geometry.

A tilde can also be used to represent Similarity. In modern Geometry, polygons can be similar to one another, and similarity can be expressed as e.g. Triangle ABC ~ (is similar to) Triangle DEF. This is often used to relate polygons that have a geometric similarity to others, such as when using ratios and proportions to compare polygons.

In English it is sometimes used to represent approximation, for example ~10 would mean “approximately 10”. Similar symbols are used in mathematics, such as in π ≈ 3.14, “π is about equal to 3.14”. Since the double-tilde (; HTML entity ≈) is generally not available from the keyboard, the tilde (~) has become a substitute for use in typed entry.

A tilde is also used to indicate “approximately equal to” (e.g. 1.902 ~= 2). This usage probably developed as a typed alternative to the libra symbol used for the same purpose in written mathematics, which is an equal sign (=) with the upper bar replaced by a bar with an upward hump or loop in the middle or, sometimes, a tilde. [Also see Approximation]. The symbol "≈" is also used for this purpose.

A tilde can be used on its own between two expressions (e.g. a ~ 0.1) to state that the two are of the same order of magnitude.

A tilde placed below a letter in mathematics can represent a vector quantity.


In written mathematical logic, it represents negation (e.g. “~p” equals “not p”, where "p" is a proposition). Modern use has been replacing the tilde with the negation symbol (¬) for this purpose, to avoid confusion with equivalence relations.


For relations involving preference, economists sometimes use the tilde to represent indifference between two or more bundles of goods. For example, to say that a consumer is indifferent between bundles x and y, an economist would write x ~ y.


It can approximate the sine wave symbol (, U+223F), which is used in electronics to indicate alternating current, in place of +, −, or for direct current.


Directories and URLs

On Unix-like systems (a range of OSs which include BSD, GNU/Linux and Mac OS X), tilde often indicates the current user's home directory: for example, if the current user's home directory is /home/bloggsj, then cd, cd ~, cd /home/bloggsj or cd $HOME are equivalent. This practice derives from the Lear-Siegler ADM-3A terminal in common use during the 1970s, which happened to have the tilde symbol and the word "Home" (for moving the cursor to the upper left) on the same key. When prepended to a particular username, the tilde indicates that user's home directory (e.g., ~janedoe for the home directory of user janedoe, such as /home/janedoe).[12]

Used in URLs on the World Wide Web, it often denotes a personal website on a Unix-based server. For example, http://www.example.com/~johndoe/ might be the personal web site of John Doe. This mimics the Unix shell usage of the tilde. However, when accessed from the web, file access is usually directed to a subdirectory in the user's home directory, such as /home/username/public_html or /home/username/www[13].

In URLs, the characters %7E (or %7e) may substitute a tilde if an input device lacks a tilde key. Thus, http://www.example.com/~johndoe/ and http://www.example.com/%7Ejohndoe/ will behave in the same manner.

Computer languages

The tilde is used in the Awk programming language as part of the pattern match operators for regular expressions:

A variant of this, with the plain tilde replaced with =~, was adopted in Perl, and this semi-standardization has led to the use of these operators in other programming languages, such as Ruby or the SQL variant of the database PostgreSQL.

In the C, C++ and C# programming languages, the tilde character is used as an operator to invert all bits of an integer (bitwise NOT), following the notation in logic (an ! causes a logical NOT, instead). In C++, the tilde is also used as the first character in a class's method name (where the rest of the name must be the same name as the class) to indicate a destructor - a special method which is called at the end of the object's life.

In Eiffel, the tilde is used for object comparison. If a and b denote objects, the boolean expression a ~ b has value true if an only if these objects are equal, as defined by the applicable version of the library routine is_equal, which by default denotes field-by-field object equality but can be redefined in any class to support a specific notion of equality. If a and b are references, the object equality expression a ~ b is to be contrasted with a = b which denotes reference equality. Unlike the call a.is_equal (b), the expression a ~ b is type-safe even in the presence of covariance.

In the D programming language, the tilde is used as an array concatenation operator, as well as to indicate an object destructor.

In the CSS stylesheet language, the tilde is used for the indirect adjacent combinator as part of a selector.

In the Inform programming language, the tilde is used to indicate a quotation mark inside a quoted string.

In Max/MSP, a tilde is used to denote objects that process at the computer's sampling rate, i.e. mainly those that deal with sound.

In "text mode" of the LaTeX typesetting language a stand-alone tilde can be obtained with \~{} and for use as a diacritics, e.g., like \~{n} rendering "ñ". A stand-alone tilde can also be obtained by using \textasciitilde. In "math mode" a stand-alone tilde can be written as \tilde{~} and as diacritics, e.g., \tilde{x}. For a wider tilde the \widetilde can be used. The \sim command produce a tilde-like character that is often used in probability mathematical equations, and the double-tilde is obtained with \approx. In both text and math mode a tilde on its own (~) is rendering a white space with no line breaking.

In Haskell, the tilde is used in type constraints to indicate type equality; also, in pattern-matching patterns, the tilde makes a subpattern irrefutable.

In Microsoft's SQL Server Transact SQL (T-SQL) language, the tilde is a unary NOT operator.

In APL, tilde represents the monadic logical function NOT.

In OCaml, the tilde is used to specify the label for a labeled parameter.

In Standard ML, the tilde is used as the prefix for negative numbers and as the unary negation operator.

In Common Lisp, the tilde is used as the prefix for format specifiers in format strings.[14]

Backup filenames

The dominant Unix convention for naming backup copies of files is appending a tilde to the original file name. It originated with the Emacs text editor and was adopted by many other editors and some command-line tools.

Emacs also introduced an elaborate numbered backup scheme, with files named filename.~1~, filename.~2~ and so on. It didn't catch on, probably because version control software does this better.

Microsoft filenames

The tilde was part of Microsoft's filename mangling scheme when it developed the VFAT file system. This upgrade introduced long filenames to Microsoft Windows, and permitted additional characters (such as the space) to be part of filenames, which were prohibited in previous versions. Programs written prior to this development could only access filenames in the so-called 8.3 format—the filenames consisted of a maximum of eight alphanumeric characters, followed by a period, followed by three more alphanumeric characters. In order to permit these legacy programs to access files in the VFAT file system, each file had to be given two names—one long, more descriptive one, and one that conformed to the 8.3 format. This was accomplished with a name-mangling scheme in which the first six characters of the filename are followed by a tilde and a digit. For example, "Program Files" might become "PROGRA~1".

Also, the tilde symbol is used to prefix hidden temporary files that are created when a document is opened in Windows. For example, when you open a Word document called "Document1.doc," a file called "~$cument1.doc" is created in the same directory. This file contains information about which user has the file open, to prevent multiple users from attempting to change a document at the same time.


In many games, the tilde key (on U.S. English keyboards) is used to open the console. This is true for games such as Half-Life, Halo CE, Quake, Half-Life 2, Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix, Unreal, Counter-Strike, Crysis, Oblivion, and others based on the Quake engine or Source engine.

It is sometimes used in rogue-like games to represent water or snakes.

Other uses

Computer programmers use the tilde in various ways and sometimes call the symbol (as opposed to the diacritic) a squiggle or a twiddle. According to the Jargon File, other synonyms sometimes used in programming include not, approx, wiggle, enyay (after eñe) and (humorously) sqiggle (pronounced /ˈskɪɡəl/).

In MediaWiki, three consecutive tildes (~~~) create a "signature" (which can be customised by the user), five consecutive tildes (~~~~~) result in the time in UTC, and four consecutive tildes (~~~~) result in the signature followed by the time in UTC.

Another recent use of the tilde is to indicate either a "melodic" pronunciation, or a commonly recognized vocal inflection by enclosing a word or entire phrase between a pair of tilde (similar to the use of quotation marks) which indicates that such word or phrase is to be either sung as a tune, ~Happy birthday to you...~, pronounced as a jeer or taunt, ~Nyah, nyah!~, or with a common change in pitch, ~What-EVER!~. Sometimes in more modern literature, the tilde before the phrase is removed ("Awesome~!" sang Jillian); other times, it's simply treated as a punctuation mark ("Awesome~" sang Jillian).

In many online or internet communities, the tilde is used to show a sarcastic, playful or sometimes flirty connotation for the word or words to follow it.

Juggling notation

In the Juggling notation system Beatmap, tilde can be added to either "hand" in a pair of fields to say "cross the arms with this hand on top". Mills Mess is thus represented as (~2x,1)(1,2x)(2x,~1)*.[15]


Where a tilde is on the keyboard depends on the computer's language settings according to the following chart. On many keyboards it is primarily available through a dead key that makes it possible to produce a variety of precomposed characters with the diacritic. In that case, a single tilde can typically be inserted with the dead key followed by the space bar, or alternatively by striking the dead key twice in a row.

To insert a tilde with the dead key, it is often necessary to simultaneously hold down the Alt Gr key. On the keyboard layouts that include an Alt Gr key, it typically takes the place of the right-hand Alt key. With a Macintosh either of the Alt/Option keys function similarly.

In the US and European Windows systems, the Alt code for a single tilde is 126.

Keyboard Insert a single tilde (~) Insert a precomposed character with tilde (e.g. ã)
Dvorak Alt Gr+= followed by Space, or

Alt Gr+ Shift+' followed by Space

Alt Gr+= followed by the relevant letter, or

Alt Gr+ Shift+' followed by the relevant letter

English (Australia) Shift+`
English (Canada) Shift+`
English (UK) Shift+#
English (US) Shift+` Ctrl+~ followed by the relevant letter
Finnish Alt Gr+¨ followed by Space, or

Alt Gr+¨¨

Alt Gr+¨ followed by the relevant letter
French (Canada) Alt Gr+ç followed by Space, or

Alt Gr+çç

Alt Gr+ç followed by the relevant letter
French (France) Alt Gr+é followed by Space, or

Alt Gr+éé

Alt Gr+é followed by the relevant letter
French (Switzerland) Alt Gr+^ followed by Space, or

Alt Gr+^^

Alt Gr+^ followed by the relevant letter
German (Germany) Alt Gr++
German (Switzerland) Alt Gr+^ followed by Space, or

Alt Gr+^^

Alt Gr+^ followed by the relevant letter
Hindi (India) Alt Gr+ Shift+ the key to the left of 1
Icelandic Alt Gr+' (the same key as ?)
Italian Alt+5 (on Mac OS X)
Norwegian Alt Gr+¨ followed by Space, or

Alt Gr+¨¨

Alt Gr+¨ followed by the relevant letter
Polish Shift+` followed by Space The dead key is not generally used for inserting characters with tilde; when followed by {a|c|e|l|n|o|s|x|z}, it results in {ą|ć|ę|ł|ń|ó|ś|ź|ż} instead.
Portuguese ~ followed by Space ~ followed by the relevant letter
Spanish (Spain) Alt Gr+4 followed by Space, or

Alt Gr+44

Alt Gr+4 followed by the relevant letter
Spanish (Latin America) Alt Gr++
Swedish Alt Gr+¨ followed by Space, or

Alt Gr+¨¨

Alt Gr+¨ followed by the relevant letter
Turkish Alt Gr+ü followed by Space, or

Alt Gr+üü

Alt Gr+ü followed by the relevant letter

See also


  1. "Tilda definition of Tilda in the Free Online Encyclopedia". Encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com. http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Tilda. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  2. WordNet Search - 3.0
  3. Tanto de meu estado me acho incerto (Portuguese)
  4. Lithuanian Standards Board (LST), proposal for a zigazag diacritic.
  5. "Japanese punctuation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia". En.wikipedia.org. 2010-07-03. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_punctuation#Wave_dash. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  6. http://x0213.org/codetable/sjis-0213-2004-std.txt
  7. http://www.unicode.org/Public/MAPPINGS/OBSOLETE/EASTASIA/JIS/SHIFTJIS.TXT
  8. "Windows 932_81". Microsoft.com. http://www.microsoft.com/globaldev/reference/dbcs/932/932_81.htm. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  9. "Microsoft Word - 233cover_rev.doc" (PDF). http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/ISO-IR/233.pdf. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  10. http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/UFF00.pdf
  11. http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U3000.pdf
  12. "Tilde expansion." The GNU C Library Manual. Retrieved 4 July 2010. http://www.gnu.org/s/libc/manual/html_node/Tilde-Expansion.html
  13. "Apache Module mod_userdir." Apache HTTP Server Documentation, Version 2.0. Retrieved 4 July 2010. http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.0/mod/mod_userdir.html
  14. "CLHS: Section 22.3". Lispworks.com. 2005-04-11. http://www.lispworks.com/documentation/HyperSpec/Body/22_c.htm. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  15. "The Internet Juggling Database". Archived from the original on 28 July 2005. http://web.archive.org/web/20050728104414/http://www.jugglingdb.com/help/?id=125. Retrieved 6 November 2009. 

External links

Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv Ww Xx Yy Zz
Letters using tilde sign

history • palaeography derivations • diacritics punctuation numerals Unicode • list of letters • ISO/IEC 646