Mark Pilgrim did a great bit of sleuthing to uncover the history of the tilde (~):
...the tilde was not meant to be the tilde at all, but rather anMark Pilgrim did a great bit of sleuthing to uncover the history of the tilde (~):
...the tilde was not meant to be the tilde at all, but rather an odd character called the overline. Presumably to balance out the underline, if indeed those sorts of things require balance. There is balance in the universe, to be sure, but I am less sure that it eminates from my keyboard. No matter. The tilde was the tilde so that Spanish-typing types could type the ñ (now referenced in HTML as the named entity ñ), but somewhere along the line, it morphed into a general-purpose character with all sorts of geeky uses.
I employ the tilde on this site to help denote a clear separation between links or phrases that are inline (on the same line). In other words, we stole the tilde and made it operate as a super-semi-colon. I was afraid it might actually have some established grammatical standard, but it turns out the tilde (~) is just a quirky little squiggly line that only barely made its way onto our American keyboards.
So why not give the tilde a more standard usage in language? Are there some writing or communication situations that could use a special character? Personally, I think the tilde is an under-appreciated symbol that we should try to elevate beyond geekdom.