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Word of the Day

Thursday, July 28, 2016
Definitions for virgule
  1. a short oblique stroke (/) between two words indicating that whichever is appropriate may be chosen to complete the sense of the text in which they occur: The defendant and his/her attorney must appear in court.
  2. a dividing line, as in dates, fractions, a run-in passage of poetry to show verse division, etc.: 3/21/27; “Sweetest love, I do not go/For weariness of thee.” (John Donne)
  3. a short oblique stroke (/) used in computing; a forward slash.

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Citations for virgule
It can be used, of course to indicate the choices, one or more, that may "properly" fill the blank space that follows. But the virgule need not be strictly identified with a particular or exclusive binary. It can be argued that the virgule is the poststructuralist punctuation par excellence (although a strong case can be made for the hyphen), in that is can be deployed to suggest the endlessness of binariness, a serial proliferation of constrastives in horizontally endless adjacencies ... Virgil Lokke, "The Naming of the Virgule in the Linguistic/Extralinguistic Binary," After the Future: Postmodern Times and Places, edited by Gary Shapiro, 1990
The path was cleared for the substitution of the verbalizable ''or'' by the unspeakable ''/'' in the legalistic term ''and/or,'' which would be hard to say as ''and or or.'' Now we are afflicted by the promiscuous use of virgules. William Safire, "On Language," New York Times, May 24, 1981
Origin of virgule
1830-1840
Virgule entered English from French, where it means "comma, little rod." It ultimately derives from the Latin virgula meaning “rod.”
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