What the *@#!?: Tilde
What the *@#!? is an ongoing exploration of the origins and meanings of the symbols we use every day. This post is about The Tilde. We see it above letters, before numbers and as a design element. What’s up with that, Señora?
The Tilde: The name of the character comes from Spanish, from the Latin titulus meaning “title” or “superscription”, though the term “tilde” has evolved and now has a different meaning in linguistics.
This symbol (in English) sometimes means “approximately”, such as “~30 minutes ago” meaning “approximately 30 minutes ago”. It can mean “similar to”, including “of the same order of magnitude as”, such as x ~ y” meaning that x and y are of the same order of magnitude.
In some languages, the tilde is used as a diacritical mark (??) placed over a letter to indicate a change in pronunciation, such as nasalization.
Read more about it at the Tilde wiki »