Once used to mark periods and commas, the slash is now most often used to represent exclusive or inclusive or, division and fractions, and as a date separator.
It has several other historical or technical names.
The Fraktur script used throughout Central Europe in the early modern period used a single slash as a scratch comma and a double slash (//) as a dash.
The double slash developed into the double oblique hyphen ⟨⸗⟩ and double hyphen ⟨＝⟩ or ⟨゠⟩ before being usually simplified into various single dashes.
In the 18th century, the mark was generally known in English as the "oblique".
The variant "oblique stroke" eventually developed into "stroke", the common British name for the mark.
In the 19th and early 20th century, it was also widely known as the "shilling mark" or "solidus", from its use as the currency sign for the shilling.
but has gained wide currency through its use in computing, a context where it is sometimes even used in British English in preference to the usual name "stroke".Clarifying terms such as "forward slash" have been coined owing to widespread use of Microsoft's DOS and Windows operating systems, which use the backslash extensively.Such slashes may be used to avoid taking a position in naming disputes.One example is the Syriac naming dispute, which prompted the US and Swedish censuses to use the respective official designations "Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac" and "Assyrier/Syrianer" for the ethnic group.In particular, since the late 20th century, the slash is used to permit more gender-neutral language in place of the traditional masculine or plural gender neutrals.In the case of English, this is usually restricted to degendered pronouns such as "he/she" or "s/he".