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Many people use the “#”  sign today in everyday life; it’s uses include Twitter posts, numerics, and phone numbers. But what does it mean exactly?  Is it a hashtag, the number sign, the pound key, or a tic-tac-toe board?  We interviewed twenty five students and seventeen adults to find out what they think.

The number sign ended up as the winning definition, receiving twenty four votes. Coming in second, 13 people chose hashtag.  Pound sign (4) and a Tic-Tac-Toe Board (1) got the fewest votes. Of the twenty four people who answered “number sign,” nineteen have a social media account, as do all thirteen “hashtag” responders. Seventy five percent of people who thought the symbol was a pound sign were adults, while students comprised sixty nine percent of “hashtag” and 54 percent of “number sign” responders.

Nearly twice as many people answered number sign as did hashtag.  Evidently, social media has not infiltrated our perception of certain grammatical signs.  However, as people might expect, most adults answered pound sign or number sign.

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