Dagger (typography)

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A dagger or obelisk (, †, U+2020) is a typographical symbol or glyph. It is also called an obelus. The term "obelisk" derives from Greek obeliskos, which means "little obelus"; though obelos (obelus) literally means "roasting spit", it referred to the ÷ symbol. A double dagger or diesis (, ‡, U+2021) is a variant with two handles.



The symbol was first used in liturgical books of the Roman Catholic Church, marking a minor intermediate pause in the chanting of Psalm verses (the major intermediate pause was marked with an asterisk) or the point at which the chanting of the Psalm was taken up after an introductory antiphon whose words were identical to the opening words of the Psalm.


The dagger is usually used to indicate a footnote, in the same way an asterisk is. However, the dagger is only used for a second footnote when an asterisk is already used. A third footnote employs the double dagger.[1] Additional footnotes are somewhat inconsistent and represented by a variety of symbols, e.g., parallels (||) and the pilcrow (¶), some of which were nonexistent in early modern typography. Partly because of this, superscript numerals have increasingly been used in modern literature in the place of these symbols, especially when several footnotes are required. Some texts use asterisks and daggers alongside superscripts, using the former for per-page footnotes and the latter for endnotes.

Since it also represents the Christian cross, in certain predominantly Christian regions, the mark is used in a text before or after the name of a deceased person or the date of death,[1] as in Christian grave headstones. For this reason, it should not be used as a footnote mark next to the name of a living person.

Other uses of daggers

Listed below are other possible uses of daggers. The dagger should not be confused with the character "box drawings light vertical and horizontal" (, U+253C). The double dagger should not be confused with the alveolar click ([ǂ], U+01C2), the Cross of Lorraine (, U+253C), or the patriarchal cross.

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