Mouthblogging Brackets

It can be hard to summon the correct word for the characters below such that everyone understands which characters you mean when you are speaking.

{ }Curly Brackets
[ ]Square Brackets
( )Round Brackets
< >Angle Brackets
Consider this an homage to this wonderfully HTML4 page that hasn’t changed in 16 years.

Round brackets are the easy ones. I’ve only ever heard anyone call them parentheses or parens. No debate there that I know of, except perhaps that round brackets is more British English and I just don’t hear it as an American.

Angle brackets (< >) are also fairly locked in and called exactly that. But angle brackets does use the word bracket which may introduce a smidge of confusion in case someone thinks of a bracket as something else. And hey, right angles are angles too, so I could see someone understanding the word name angle bracket as a square bracket.

I think [ ] and { } are more confusing. If you literally say “curly braces” or “square brackets”, that’s pretty clear. But you can’t just say brackets because that encompasses all four of these. You could maybe get away with just saying braces because braces isn’t some parent term and if anything refers specifically to the curly variety.

I think these are the best bets for understandability, even if some of these are technically inaccurate:

{ }Curly Braces
Runners up: “Curvy Brackets”, “Twisty Parenthesis”, “Mustaches”
[ ]Square Brackets
Runners up: “Square Braces”
( )Parentheses
Runners up: “Round Brackets”, “Parens”
< >Angle Brackets
Runners up: “HTML brackets”, “Pointy Brackets”

4 responses to “Mouthblogging Brackets”

  1. The curly in curly braces for me has become the noun: Open Curly, Closed Curly. Which I think is a decent end to the confusion. I’m aligned to the rest of your mappings!

  2. Mike Cravey says:

    Having just taught HTML and JS to a bunch of 6th graders, I settled on the terms you chose as well. However, I often had to clarify “Angle Brackets are less than and greater than”. Which confused the usage of a bracket a bit, but helped when we started doing conditionals, cause they knew those characters on the keyboard already.

  3. Curtis Wilcox says:

    “Parenthesis” is the singular, to be consistent with the others, use the plural, “parentheses.” When dictating code, character-by-character, I think “open parens,” “close parens” makes sense and is much easier to say, less lisp-inducing.

    “Angle Brackets” is best for those but another option is to use the actual character names, less-than, greater-than.

    The character names for braces, brackets, and parentheses are all “left-” and “right-” but using “open” and “close” for their use in code better conveys the characters’ purpose.

  4. Thoscellen says:

    May I introduce other languages, for instance french (’cause moustaches & baguettes):

    {} ☞ Accolades (hugs, but classy)
    () ☞ Parenthèses
    <> ☞ Chevrons
    (var: if you double them «», it become Guillemets)
    [] ☞ Crochets (hooks)
    βŒˆβŒ‰ ☞ Plafonds (roofs)
    βŒŠβŒ‹ ☞ Planchers (floors)

    So there are some commons nouns here, that may explain the way or the other why they are called this way.

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