Forward Slash, not Backslash!

I was listening to the radio last night and heard the radio host announce their MySpace URL:

"Check us out at www dot myspace dot com backslash blahblah"

It's not called a backslash! It's called a forward slash!

I wouldn't mind if this was a rare occurrence, but I have heard so many people, even people who work in the computer industry, confuse the two slashes. An easy way to remember which is which is to simply "read" the slash like you do a regular sentence.

Think of a tiny person standing in the middle of the sentence: | <-- that's the little person. Now, if he leans back (\) it's called a backslash. If he leans forward ( / ), it's called a forward slash (or just a slash).

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  1. heh heh….
    😳 I’m known for that mistake….

    Of course half the time I forget and put the wrong slash and get a “can’t find that website” error.

  2. ROFL.

    ( ) lean back ( ) lean back ( ) lean back


    Quite a vivid depiction.

    I don’t know its 2.14am, I get a little crazy when I cant sleep.

  3. THANK YOU! Hearing this is like nails on a chalkboard for me. The local PBS station makes this mistake all the time — I hear it everyday. Stupid, stupid people.

  4. Yeah, we’re still living in an age when there are people who grew up without computers, so only time will fix silly linguistic screw-ups like that. Unfortunately, the radio DJ’s and other people in media are the very ones who should be leading everyone with correct terminology, but the very people who enforce those policies don’t even know the correct terminology themselves!

  5. AAARRRGH!!! You’re right. Nails on a chalkboard. man! I was on hold with my auto insurance company (AAA), and the voice talent in the interstitials gave an URL using “backslash” instead of “slash”! Oooooo…I just wanted to scream at the rep when he finally picked up my call 20 minutes later. But he woulda gone, “Huh wa?”

  6. these retarded girls that are managers of fye think its blackslash and think they are right just because they are managers. one of then even came to me and said she looked it up and that her friend had a degree in computers and refused to believe that she was wrong! what a stupid bitch!

  7. I tend to habitually interrupt and correct someone when they do this. Completely agree that it’s aggravating, but I also think it’s an understandable mistake. The conclusion seems pretty easy to come to given that one draws a slash from right to left and we read from left to right. It is a logical conclusion, not a stupid one. Did I just contradict myself? I friggen hate it when people do that 😉

  8. It’s easy. Forward is forward, backward is backward. Forward is to the right, backward is to the left. It’s hard to see how anyone can mix this up, unless they don’t know their directions. I think everything url-wise is forward slash; everything system browser-wise is backward.

    • Exactly! There is no forward slash. The use of “forward” appeared mainly due to Microsoft confusion about how to represent paths in file systems: they decided to use backslash instead of slash as separators between directory names. Then the big Ooops when they realised that backslash was actually used as escape character in string representation… and voila, the idiotic double backslash was necessary when representing a path as a string.

  9. I’m afraid I’m one of those STILL living (pardon me) who grew up without computers. For us neanderthals, we used the / to make fractions or indicate either/or type options. The mark in speech was usually referred to as a “slash”. When typewriters appeared on the scene (OK, I’m not really that old) the / key was referred to as the “backslash”; I never heard the word “forwardslash” until the modern age of computers. It is interesting to me to see such self assurance in the replies about directions. “Forward is forward, backward is backward.” So tell me, who decides whether / is leaning forward (the flow of the sentence) or backward (away from the front of the sentence). I especially love the illustration of the “tiny person” and his/her leanings. Now the forward and backward aspect may be “obvious” to you, but to me, it actually looks more like a “leftslash” and a “rightslash”. But only if the person is looking at you. What if they are mooning you? Is it their right/left or our observed right/left. Or if it is forward or backward, which way are they facing to begin with??? Whew! I’m tired. I think I’ll have to go take a nap.

    • I agree. The forward slash didn’t exist until computers. There was only one slash, and it was the backslash (/). So when newbie people, who grew up only with computers, say backslash, (/) this is what I do.
      I just had a discussion with one of our IT guys who gave me a URL and said forward slash and I said it sounded odd to have a forward slash in the space he indicated.
      He IM’d me a back slash (/). I said, “That’s a back slash.” He said, “No. It’s a forward slash.”
      I said, before computers, it was a back slash. Who decided to change it? He didn’t know.

  10. Watching the NFL Playoffs and saw that Audible Pepsi commercial and they said “backslash” and i about flipped! I get really bothered by this, so i decided to look it up and see if I’m the only one. Glad to see I’m not! What really bothers me is if you don’t even know, why would you even say “back” before you say “slash”? If I don’t know what color my boss’s car is but I know it’s a, say, Grand Am, I’m not going to say “My boss will be showing up in a red Grand Am.” I’d leave the “red” out of it! If you don’t know, just leave the “back” out of it! I wouldn’t mind as much if they called a backslash a “slash”, at least it’s some kind of slash! What do they call a backslash? Sorry, it’s a pet peeve.

  11. The reason a lot of people, myself included, call “/” a back slash is from an analogy I am about to tell you. Back in the day “/” was always known as backslash, and it was never thought of as something else til modern days.

    Okay, when you right you typically right from top to bottom when making a letter. Some, like the “A” you don’t. But when people hand write a “/” and a “” they typically start from the top and go to the bottom. A lot like when drawing a lower case “i” before dotting it. You start from the top, and to make a “/” symbol, you move the writing utensil backwards while you are coming down. (hence backslash) When you make a “” symbol, starting from the top, you move down in a forward motion. (hence why it is referred to as a forward slash or just a regular slash) I don’t know anyone who writes from the bottom up. So whether you right left to right, or right to left. if you are still writing up to down, like most if not all people do. Then your person leaning back analogy gets thrown out the window.

    In the end, who gives a fuck if it spoken as backslash or slash or forward slash. Slash would be the easiest to say, backslash, rolls off the tongue nicely as well; however, forward slash sounds so awkward to say that if I said it around anyone I would feel like a complete douche bag.

  12. Jesus Christ oh my god shit fuck! God damn, jeez is this so fucking hard? It’s been a really long time since I’ve heard someone refer to it correctly. It drives me nuts!

  13. Thank you for posting this. But, even in 2014…… I STILL hear it onn commercials.

    It makes me REALLY mad esp. as a programmer. How can Communications majors – who write text for these commercials be so ignorant about their own subject. Well, that’s just another story, isn’t it?

  14. Cease fire// instead of forward/back slash let us christen the two like;
    / = itsy and \ = bitsy ; or
    / = teeny and \ = weeny; or
    / = kane and \ = abel;
    Jesus Christ/ people are dying of hunger and disease and you guys have the time to argue on angle of inclination whether back or forward/ Wow

  15. This topic has been bothering me for years, I did a Google search it up to see if I was the only one. The fact that this post is 13 years old and it’s still happening is proof. It’s one thing if you hear it randomly spoken in a conversation, but to still hear it in podcast/TV commercials makes me cringe. We should know by now! Ha, rant over.

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