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Question about these things: { }

We always used to call these { } “wavy brackets.” Are they ever legitimately used in non-mathematical writing as, say, within-a-sentence punctuation?

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They're generally called "braces" (brackets are [these things]). Checking the Chicago Manual, I see only mathematic uses for them.

They're also used in programming a lot, fwiw.

Adam Rice March 9, 2004, 7:01pm

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Hmmm. I think "wavy brackets" is the Southern U.S. vernacular. :)

speedwell2 March 10, 2004, 8:20am

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I've seen them used (rarely) to distinguish nesting levels in intricately parenthesised sentences (like {to put forward a hypothetical example} this). Though I can't say I've seen it more than a very limited number of times (I think there's a few in R. Hume's Treatises, but he also uses extensive footnoting, to the point there's a few pages with a few lines of body text and mostly footnote text).

Ingvar March 22, 2004, 12:23am

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I've almost always heard them called curly braces or curly brackets.

Abby March 27, 2004, 5:24pm

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Yes, they are called braces. And you can generally disregard them, because an extra set of parenthesis tend to work fine if you need to double enclose something.

Adam is right. They're used a LOT in programming.

Ryan Huddleston March 28, 2004, 4:15pm

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in the MIT Bookstore's letter is a use of braces, to let the smiley stand out I guess.

Matt April 3, 2004, 3:44pm

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I call them "wavy gravy, " but then I also call hamburgers "Steamed Hams."

Furthermore, the Northern Lights sometimes appear locallized in my kitchen.

Seymour Skinner August 6, 2004, 1:39pm

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