In the printed press, on the pages of a book or in an advertising brochure, we find all kinds of typographic signs, such as quotation marks, parentheses, hyphens, slashes, ellipses or asterisks. The latter has a shape similar to a star (*). In fact, the word comes from the Greek word asteriskos and literally means “little star”. Asterisk
In written language
This sign is used to inform the reader about a specific subject. Thus, the asterisk appears next to a word in parentheses and in this way the reader knows that at the end of the text there will be an informative note with this sign accompanied by a specific clarification. If there is more than one explanation in a text at the bottom of the page, it is not advisable to use this sign, but a numbering in parentheses.
– This symbol is often used before a word to indicate that it is not spelled correctly (eg “*There were more than 100 casualties in the accident”). Asterisk
– In addition, three asterisks accompanied by a word are used when you want to avoid using inconvenient terms (“I was very angry and I told everyone to take it at c***”).
– In sacred texts, they are used to separate the psalms from the verses or to specify that in prayer it is necessary to pause for it to be performed correctly.
– In the field of linguistics , it is used to indicate that a word has evolved over time.
– Finally, in some dictionaries it appears before a date or a place-name (* Madrid 1950 means that the person mentioned was born in this city ). Asterisk
From a historical point of view
The cuneiform writing performed on a clay tablet was the first support for writing messages with phonetic symbols. To complement the letters of the alphabet it was necessary to incorporate some specific signs.
Greek philologists of the Alexandrian period used the little star sign to communicate a correction in classical texts. The asterisk and the set of typographic signs began to be spread widely from the creation of the press in the 15th century. Asterisk
In other communication contexts
– On telephones, two signs appear next to zero: to the left * and to the right #.
– Some electronic forms use this sign, indicating that an item must be completed mandatory.
– In computing it is used as a reference or multiplication operator.
– In the language of mathematics it serves to multiply.