Trivia

Hard

The Practice Of Denoting A Corrected Word With An Asterisk Comes From?

Victorian Copy Editors
Typesetters
Stenographers
Medieval Scribes
A diagram of the English layout for a stenotype machine keyboard.
Waldyrious/Wikimedia

Answer: Stenographers

If you’ve spent any amount of time using chat clients or text messaging over the years, you’ve likely run into at least an exchange or two where someone used an asterisk to denote a correction they’d made to an error in a previous comment, like so:

Don’t froget to grab milk on the way home

*forget

That little designation, an asterisk to mark the revision of a word, is a carryover from the compact shorthand typing used by stenographers throughout the 20th century (and still in use today). When rapidly transcribing, a stenographer (who neither has the time nor the ability to backspace and correct an error) will hit the asterisk key on their stenography keyboard and immediately follow it with a correction for a preceding error.

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