Let’s discuss that little squiggly line.  It’s the sign above the backquote (~), and it indicates approximation.

Maybe you use it in your online work, or you’ve seen it in a newspaper (maybe when polling public opinion about something). Or maybe you’ve never encountered it.

It’s called an “aspirational” or “tilde” notation, and in computer usage, the tilde sign stands for “approximately equal to,” or, more often these days: approximately.”

History of the Squiggly Line

A squiggly line is a wavy symbol ( ~ ) often found over a letter. Interestingly, the symbol has a name: the tilde.

Around the 12th century, Spanish scribes began using a squiggly line over letters to indicate they were doubled, in an effort to use less paper.

Around 1522, this practice became specific to indicate only an “n” was being doubled. That remained the case until 1918, when the Spanish alphabet was reformed, and the ñ (which had been used for all instances of “n” doubling in some languages) became an official character.

What Does a Squiggly Line Mean in Text?

You could replace the squiggly line with the word ‘about’ or ‘approximately’. It means almost exactly the same, just with more syllables. It’s also much harder to type.

But if you’re a cool, contemporary teenager, squiggly lines convey the desired impression of a tilde in a tone far better than the scarily old-fashioned ‘about’ or ‘approximately’ do.

What Does A Squiggly Line Mean In Math?

When a squiggly line appears in mathematics, there are two primary explanations that may describe its appearance.

The one kind of squiggly line is utilized when it is needed to draw an interval. A squiggly line also could be used to point out an item or element that belongs to the set.

What Does a Squiggly Line Mean in Music?

The line in music notation for an arpeggio is a squiggly line in front of the chord. It indicates that notes of the chord are played rapidly one after the other instead of simultaneously (like in a strummed chord).

The length and direction of the squiggle determine how fast or slow each note will be.

How to Make the n With the Squiggly Line Over it?

On a Mac Computer

A squiggly line or a tilde (~) above the letter n is called an “overline” in typography. Despite its name, this symbol has nothing to do with the letter o — it’s just a sideways squiggle on top of a lowercase n.

It can be confusing that there are two completely different ways to generate a ~ over the letter n. The squiggly-line symbol is used mainly in mathematics, but it can also be used as a special character in word processing programs or text editors (especially under Unix).

To type this symbol on your Mac, hold down the “option” key and press the “n” key. A tilde should appear “˜”. Next, type a lowercase “n”. Instead of the tilde “˜” and the lowercase “n”, you should see the letter ñ. If you type an uppercase “N” instead, you should see the letter Ñ.

Quick reference key combination:

Alt/Option key + n, and then the letter n again

On a PC Running Windows

To type this symbol on your PC, hold down the “Ctrl” key, “Shift” key, and tilde “~” key all at the same time. Afterward, type the lowercase “n” key. You should see the letter ñ.

Quick reference key combination:

Ctrl key + Shift key + ~, and then the letter n

On an iOS Device such as iPhone and iPad

Open your favorite messaging app. When the keyboard on your device appears, press and hold down the letter “n”. After a second, a bubble should appear above the letter “n”. Slide your finger to the ñ. If you remove your finger from the keyboard, the bubble will disappear. You will have to slide your finger across to the ñ to select it.

If you want a capital letter “N”, use the Up Arrow and press and hold the letter “N”. Same as before, a bubble should appear above the letter “N”. Slide your finger to the Ñ.

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