J. Katherine Rossner ookpik at MINDSPRING.COM
Thu Jun 29 16:44:31 UTC 2000

At 12:08 PM 6/29/00 -0400, Mark Mandel wrote:

>I have read that the name was given by a telephone company (Bell, at the time)
>engineer who needed a name for the damn thing as a glyph -- a character, apart
>from any significance that might be attached to it -- and combined "octo-" for
>the number of "arms" it has with "Thorpe", his own surname. But I can't give a

I've read (possibly in William Safire's column?) that the "thorpe" part
refers not to a surname but to the "fields" into which the octothorpe is
divided.  Though that doesn't make sense, unless the central square is

Ye knowe ek, that in forme of speche is chaunge
Withinne a thousand yere, and wordes tho
That hadden pris, now wonder nyce and straunge
Us thinketh hem, and yit they spake hem so.
        - Chaucer, "Troilus and Criseyde"

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