* (The Asterisk)
What Does * Mean?The asterisk (*) is a small and seemingly simple symbol, but don't be fooled. It has an impressive array of uses. It features in mathematics, computer programming, texting, university dissertations, and normal language, where is helps with handling sensitive language. Here are seven common uses of asterisk:
(1) Spelling CorrectionWhen a texter's fingers work faster than their eyes and produce a typo or their autocorrect inserts the wrong word, the texter can use an asterisk in the next message to show a correction. For example:
- Jo: I am seeing doctor Singh tomorrow for my anal exam.
- Jo: *annual!
- Sam: LOL
(2) Censoring Swear WordsAsterisks are commonly used in writing to obscure swear words or offensive language. Asterisks allow writers to convey swear words without spelling them out fully. This helps them to maintain a level of propriety while still communicating the intended message.
- Traffic warden: You can't threaten me.
- Driver: I just f*cking did, mate.
- Traffic warden: I'm not removing the ticket. You're parked illegally.
- Driver: Get a f*cking real job. You can suck my d*ck.
- Traffic warden: You're being filmed. And, no thanks.
(3) Placeholder or Wildcard CharacterIn computing and search queries, an asterisk can be used as a wildcard character, which represents any string of characters in searches. For example, if you search for "bo*t" it might find "boat", "bolt", "boot", and "bout."
(4) Obscuring CharactersAn asterisk is commonly used to obscure certain characters in a string of text, such as in passwords or sensitive information. For instance, a hidden password might appear as "******".
(5) Emphasizing TextIn some texting apps (e.g., WhatsApp), asterisks are used for bolding text. For example:
- I need an answer *today* please. (This displays today in bold.)
(6) Textual Reference or FootnoteIn written documents, an asterisk is often used to indicate a footnote or a reference point. If an additional explanation or a citation is needed, an asterisk is placed at the end of word to be explained, and the corresponding text or citation is placed at the bottom of the page.
(7) Mathematical OperationsIn mathematical operations, especially in computer programming and on calculator keypads, an asterisk is used as the symbol for multiplication. For example, 5 * 6 means "5 multiplied by 6". Incidentally, we have the codes for a proper times symbol (×) if you don't want to use an asterisk or a lowercase x.
Image for *
When I write *, I mean this:
The asterisk (*) is a highly versatile character with seven common uses in texting and normal writing.
Summary of Key Points for First DefinitionIn text messaging, the asterisk symbol (*) often represents a spelling correction. (The hashtag is also used for this purpose.)
|Type:||Slang Shorthand (for "spelling alert")|
Adults and Teenagers
Summary of Key Points for Second DefinitionThe asterisk symbol (*) is also used for censoring swear words.
|Definition:||Censoring Swear Words|
1: Easy to guess
Adults and Teenagers
Example of * Used in a Text
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See AlsoText-Speak using Numbers Special Symbols ** (in love) *$$ (Starbucks) *$ (Starbucks) *G* (grin) *O* (surprised) *<:-) (clown)
QuizTry our fun quiz to test your knowledge of slang and texting abbreviations.
- This test has questions.
- A correct answer is worth 5 points.
- You can get up to 5 bonus points for a speedy answer.
- Some questions demand more than one answer. You must get every part right.
- Beware! Wrong answers score 0 points.
- 🏆 If you beat one of the top 3 scores, you will be invited to apply for the Hall of Fame.