10 Hidden Meanings Behind Well-Known Symbols

Symbols are everywhere: in emails, on the roads, in advertisements. They surround us while we’re shopping or working. Many of us don’t realize how deeply rooted these signs are in our lives. However, the birth of some symbols is a tricky question.

WeGoRo will uncover the origins of 10 symbols recognized worldwide that date far back in time.

10. Check

We use a check (or check mark) to mark something as correct, approved, or accomplished. It’s a symbol that appeared during the Roman Empire. The sign V stood for veritas, meaning "true." Over time, the sign has changed because people started using ink pens. The ink didn’t appear immediately upon writing, which is why the left side became shorter.

9. Recycling symbol

The symbol originally appeared on the first Earth Day in 1970. 3 arrows symbolize nonrenewable resources that should be preserved for future generations. Green is the color of nature.

8. Radiation warning symbol

The symbol was created in 1946 to indicate any radioactive materials, objects, and zones. The meaning of the sign is pretty obvious: it’s an atom and 3 types of radioactivity (alpha, beta, and gamma).

7. Command key (⌘)

The symbol ⌘ can be found only on Apple laptop keyboards and nowhere else. The Apple command symbol was derived from the road signs used in Sweden to mark famous landmarks.

6. Section sign

This sign is often found in books to mark a section of text. The sign originated from the doubled S shortened from the German satz meaning “a sentence.“ Another version suggests that it was formed by 2 S letters shortened from the Latin signum sectiōnis, meaning ”a section mark."

5. Copyright symbol

The first symbols that indicated the author’s copyright appeared in 1670. In the USA in 1802, people used a long copyright notice. It was later shortened to Copyright, 18__, by A. B., and by 1909 only the © sign was left.

4. @ sign

The origin of this sign is quite ambiguous. The traditional theory suggests that @ shows the shortened version of the Latin preposition ad (to, on). However, in the 16th century, the sign was interpreted to mean 1 amphora and a unit of weight, arroba. The sign moved to the computer language from the English typewriters, representing at on a keyboard.

In Russian, it is named a "dog" because, in the 1980s, this sign on a PC had a small tail similar to a dog.

3. Period

The period originated in Greece and was of 3 types (high, middle, and low) whose position regulated their meaning. Initially, a complete idea was marked by the high dot (˙), but over time only the low dot remained and acquired a modern meaning: the end of a sentence.

2. USB symbol

The USB symbol was inspired by the trident of Poseidon that represents his power. It symbolizes the power of one device connecting to any computer. The 3 ends signify the universality of use.

1. Number sign

It’s everywhere on the internet today, but it surely means more than a hashtag. In Latin Medieval literature, this sign represented a cross and was read as Cum Deo ("With God!"). It is also used to mark the pound weight symbol (lb).

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