Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Thu May 9 15:33:09 UTC 2002

^H is what appears on your screen when you hit the backspace key on a UNIX
computer system. In the early days of the Internet, most of the machines on
the network were UNIX and this is a vestigial joke from those days. It
means, "I meant to delete this and was hitting the backspace key to do so."
It's also a bit self-deprecating, identifying yourself as someone who
(supposedly) doesn't know enough about their own computer to realize that
hitting the backspace key won't erase the last character.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society
> [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
> Of Mark A Mandel
> Sent: Thursday, May 09, 2002 6:02 AM
> Subject: Re: ^H?
> On Thu, 9 May 2002, David Bergdahl wrote:
> #"Clinton (the groovy born-on-the-bayou^H^H^H^H^Hdirt-farm sax
> #player)"
> #
> #^H^H^H is a new one on me!  Any indication of what it means?
> It's equivalent to XXXX or ///, crossing out the previous
> characters. It
> represents the backspace character, which can be typed as control-H
> and is therefore graphically displayed as ^H in many interfaces.
> Prefixing ^ to a letter or other ASCII character is a conventional way
> of representing the control character obtained by subtracting
> (decimal)
> 32 from its ASCII code.
> -- Mark A. Mandel

More information about the Ads-l mailing list