The meanings of wingdings characters

Written by mark keller
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The meanings of wingdings characters
The character for Om, a sacred syllable in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, appears in Wingdings with many other religious symbols. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Wingdings is an icon font installed on every computer with the Microsoft Windows operating system. If you choose this font and begin typing, you'll find that the usual letters are replaced with small images. According to Microsoft, the icons, which are a collection of traditional and computer interface symbols, were chosen for their usefulness to computer users. There is no significance in which symbol is assigned to which letter, despite urban legends to the contrary. Most of the symbols themselves, however, do have meanings.

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Upper case Letters

A through I of the upper case Wingding alphabet are a series of hands performing various gestures. These are the peace sign, the "okay" sign, expressions of approval and disapproval, indications of the four directions, and an open-palmed high-five. J through T are a motley crew, containing symbols of joy, boredom, grief, volatility, danger, surrender, a pennant, an aeroplane and weather symbols: sunny, rainy and snowy. The alphabet concludes with assorted iconography of the Abrahamic religions, with two Latin crosses, a Celtic cross, a Maltese cross, the Star of David and the Star and Crescent.

Lower case Letters

The first nine letters of the lower case alphabet are the astrological symbols Cancer through Pisces -- the other three symbols occur later. The letters j and k are ampersands, minuscule and traditional. The letters l through w are a collection of circles, squares, boxes, lozenges and rhombuses. Lower case x is an x in a box --- a symbol named "clear" in PostScript --- while y is a carat in a box, which PostScript calls "escape" but Unicode identifies as a functional symbol in the APL programming language. The letter z is a symbol known as Saint John's Arms or the Saint Hannes cross, used as a place-of-interest marker on Swedish road signs and as the icon for the command key on Mac computers.

Numerals and Punctuation

The Wingding numerals are icons for various user interface features or computer components, including folders, files, a filing cabinet, an hourglass, a keyboard, a mouse and a trackball. The colon is a PC, the semicolon a hard disk, < and = are floppies and > is a tape reel. Also included among the punctuation keys are mail and telephone icons, rosettes, a pencil, writing hands, bold quotation marks, reading glasses and scissors. The astrological symbols for Aries, Taurus and Gemini finally turn up as the carat, underscore and grave accent. Some religious symbols also appears, including the Taijitu or Chinese yin-yang symbol, the Devanagari Om character, the Wheel of Dharma and the bell, book and candle of the traditional Roman Catholic excommunication ritual.

Other Characters

The more obscure punctuation marks and accented letters are used for a variety of diverse and useful, but mostly insignificant, symbols. Among these are numerals in both white and black circles, as well as a quantity of other circles, rings, targets, squares and boxes. Twelve clock icons appear --- one for each hour --- as well as two quilt squares. Most of the remainder of the characters appear as decorative bud-and-leaf flourishes, leaves, and arrows in every possible orientation. The letters ù and ú are a white rectangle and square, while û, ü, ý and þ are check and x-marks. The final character, ÿ, is the Microsoft Windows logo.

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