(redirected from backslashes)
Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.


"\" ASCII code 92. Common names: escape (from C/Unix); reverse slash; slosh; backslant; backwhack. Rare: bash; ITU-T: reverse slant; reversed virgule; INTERCAL: backslat.

Backslash is used to separate components in MS-DOS pathnames, and to introduce special character sequence in C and Unix strings, e.g. "\n" for newline.


The symbol (\) used as a separator between folder and file names in DOS and Windows. For example, the path to the Windows version of this encyclopedia is c:\"program files"\CDEweb\CDEweb.exe, which points to the CDEweb.exe file in the CDEweb folder within the Program Files folder on the C: drive.

An Unfortunate, Confusing Symbol
While the backslash (\) is used in Windows addresses, the forward slash (/) is used in Internet addresses, which are Unix based. In addition, the backslash key is in a non-standard keyboard location.

Windows followed DOS, which was modeled after CP/M, and CP/M used the forward slash for command line parameters without regard to Unix path compatibility (Unix was big iron at the time, and CP/M was for personal computers). Thus we are stuck with two different symbols to separate file and folder names.

Double Backslashes (\\)
Two backslashes are used as a prefix to a server name (hostname). For example, \\a5\c\expenses is the path to the EXPENSES folder on the C: drive on server A5. See UNC, \\, path and forward slash.

Platform     Path to Ovens Folder

 Windows:     \products\kitchen\ovens

 Mac OS X:    /products/kitchen/ovens

              Path to Ovens Page


Three Symbols Separate Names
The Unix-based Mac uses the forward slash, while Windows uses the backslash. Starting with Windows Vista, the Explorer path uses right arrows; however, backslashes must still be used at the command line (see cmd abc's).
References in periodicals archive ?
He crossed out, using the heavy backslashes that he often employed, the last three words of Jefferson's phrase 'We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable' and changed them to the words now enshrined in history: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident.
There's the frequent use of backslashes (`care/free/less') and bracketed words that show us--gosh--that big words are made up of smaller words, and that it's fun to combine them with an oxymoronic sentence: `The aim of this chapter is to unpick this seamless fabric(ation)'.
The first type is social policy debate and discussion spiced up with lavish sprinkling of Maori words, and which involves using brackets, backslashes and italics within the text.
Web addresses have forward slashes, not backslashes.
Without Internet Keywords, a consumer is forced to remember a long, arcane string of "www," backslashes, hyphens, dot com, dot org, dot gov, etc.
The first poem of the book, its seventeen lines introduce several key patterns that recur throughout McCrae's collection: most significantly, quick imagistic shifts, interrupted action, and multiple forms of caesurae including inner-linear backslashes and tabbed white spaces that, taken together, orchestrate the abrupt stops punctuating bursts of thought or feeling.