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"~" ASCII character 126.

Common names are: ITU-T: tilde; squiggle; twiddle; not. Rare: approx; wiggle; swung dash; enyay; INTERCAL: sqiggle (sic).

Used as C's prefix bitwise negation operator; and in Unix csh, GNU Emacs, and elsewhere, to stand for the current user's home directory, or, when prefixed to a login name, for the given user's home directory.

The "swung dash" or "approximation" sign is not quite the same as tilde in typeset material but the ASCII tilde serves for both (compare angle brackets).

This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (foldoc.org)
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a symbol having the shape of a wavy line (-) and the size of a hyphen or dash. In relation to the other characters making up a line of printed or written matter, the tilde may be used on, above, or below the line.

In phonetic transcriptions in linguistics, the tilde may be employed to indicate a nasal vowel (ã, õ). The symbol is used in some orthographies to show the palatalization of n; the Spanish alphabet, for example, has the letter ñ. In Greek the tilde is sometimes used as an alternate form of the circumflex, which originally indicated a rising-falling tone. In Lao and Vietnamese the symbol indicates a special tone. In, for example, comparative linguistics the tilde may be used to show the correspondence of units that are being compared. Another use of the tilde is the indication of the alternation of units.

In mathematical logic the tilde is the sign for equivalence in the Russell-Whitehead notation and the sign for the biconditional negation connective in the Hilbert notation.

The tilde is used in dictionary articles as a symbol standing for the word (or for part of the word) being defined.

In medieval manuscripts the tilde was employed to indicate the abbreviation of a word (see).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(1) In mathematics, the tilde (~) stands for equivalence; for example, a ~ b means "a is equivalent to b" (not equal, but comparable). It also stands for approximation. Officially written as two tildes, one over the other, the single tilde has become acceptable; for example, ~100 means "approximately 100."

(2) In the Unix world, the popular Unix shells, except for the Bourne shell, support a home directory name substitution using the tilde (~). Also called a "squiggle" or "twiddle," the symbol is a prefix. For example, ~ jackson would refer to the "jackson" home directory. See shell and home directory.

(3) In Windows 95/98, the tilde (~) was used to maintain a short version of a long file or folder name for compatibility with Windows 3.1 and DOS. See Win Short file names.

(4) In Spanish, the tilde (~) turns the letter "n" into a "nyeh" sound such as in mañana; pronounced "mah-nyah-nah," which means "tomorrow" and "morning" (tomorrow morning is "mañana por la mañana"). In Portuguese, the tilde over the letters "a" and "o" adds a slight nasal sound to the syllable.
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