Backslash Be Gone

A backslash looks like this: \. A slash, also known — albeit rarely — as a slant or oblique stroke or simply stroke looks like this: /.

There are no backslashes in web addresses (technical note: okay, maybe sometimes, but so effectively never as to be never).

All of the “strokes” or “slashes” in a web address are just regular old slashes, not backslashes.

So you read something like like this: h t t p colon slash slash w w w dot almanac dot com.

In conventional everyday normal person world, the only time you’ll have cause to use the word backslash is when you’re using the MS-DOS command line, and need to refer to a directory. In MS-DOS, directory names use the backslash. So you read C:\fred as c colon backslash fred.

When you read web addresses, though, ditch the back and embrace the slash.

Side note: newspapers, especially small local ones, have an annoying habit of reproducing web addresses with backslashes. They should stop this.


Silverbear's picture
Silverbear on September 23, 2004 - 23:38 Permalink

THANK you, Peter! I’m going to be emailing this post to about 100 people who (never having been in military service) DON’T seem to know what a stroke (or slash) is, and keep calling this ‘/’ a backslash!

Since you spell honor as ‘honour’, I’m assuming you’re most likely a Canadian, and may not know that the U.S. military refers to the slash as a stroke. I literally grew up in the military and learned from a very early age to call it a stroke. I learned from civilians that it was also a slash, but suddenly a few years ago, people everywhere were saying “backslash”. I began to doubt what I had always known. Thanks for the re-affirmation.


Peter Marquis-Kyle's picture
Peter Marquis-Kyle on September 23, 2004 - 23:59 Permalink

Most web addresses are awful mouthfulls. I like the use of ‘dub dub dub’, not to mention ‘whack’.


al o'neill's picture
al o'neill on September 24, 2004 - 14:37 Permalink\discuss\2334

Works just fine in Internet Explorer. Microsoft are so helpful.

Pete Prodoehl's picture
Pete Prodoehl on September 30, 2004 - 14:15 Permalink

I’ve been meaning to write this up for quite a while, as it’s been annoying the crap out of me as well… I blame Microsoft, though I tend to do that quite often anyway…

Derek Koch's picture
Derek Koch on November 2, 2004 - 05:58 Permalink

a “whack” is a backslash, like C:\###
Girls just don’t get that little joke.
I was in the Infantry, so if we used a “stroke” it involved the butt-end of an M-16 and someone’s head. A good deal of pain was also involved.