Pairs of octothorpes

It turns out that this symbol: #, which is known to musicians as a ‘sharp sign’, to many people as ‘the number sign’, and to almost everybody as a ‘pound sign’ (except the English, who think ‘£’ is the Pound sign), is officially known as an octothorpe.  This is probably because it has nine areas, or has four lines.

We find children, almost daily, saying, “Come on, let’s play octothorpe”.

Next up, a set of useful kitchen knives:

The pairing knife, so called because when you cut something in two, you’ve got a pair of things.

Then there’s the pearing knife, specially designed for cutting pears.

Finally, the paring knife (though why it isn’t pronounced “pahring” is one of the mysteries of English), often used for whittling.  I’m told that “whittle” is a late Middle English word that means ‘knife’, which in turn came from an Old English word that meant ‘cut’.


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