Prime (typography)

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′ ″ ‴ ⁗
The standard
variants of single and multiple primes
‵ ‶ ‷
mirrored variants of
single and multiple primes
ʹ ʺ
left: marker of the Greek &
Coptic numerals - right: letter
for transcribing the Cyrillic Ъ ъ

A prime [ pɹaɪ̯m ] (from English prime ; also [the] prim , [the] prime , dash , prime character ) is the typographic character - -, a (in contrast to the apostrophe always straighter) towards the vertical slightly Right sloping hyphen , which is significantly thicker at the upper end than at the lower end and often ends in a curve at the top (especially with serif fonts ) and at the bottom in a curve or point. It usually extends at least from the x-height to the uppercase height and often exceeds the former slightly downwards and the latter slightly upwards. In most fonts, it is therefore much longer than the acute (´ → é), an accented character , and is usually much less inclined to the vertical than the latter.

The simple prime (line) - - is mainly used as a unit symbol, minute symbol . The two-stroke (double prime) - " - serves as a second character and inch marks , but it is often the straight quotes on the keyboard -" - "- - or the closing" German "quotes. Replaced addition, there are Unicode characters with three and four strokes and for almost all characters with horizontally mirrored strokes, see below In the metal type several letters with single strokes were placed one behind the other.


In the past, the designation of minutes and seconds as time units using single and double hyphens was very common, hence the current designation as "minute sign" and "second sign". They were also used for feet and inches; the double line is probably the most common “customs sign” in everyday life today. The German terms "Punkt -zeichen" and "Linienzeichen" also originate from the measures of length at that time.


Meanings of the single character

  • Soft sign in the transliteration of Cyrillic letters ( palatalization )
  • Minute , angle unit ( 160 degrees )
  • Minute , time unit ( 160 hour )
  • Foot , unit of length; Prussian Rhine foot: 1 ′ ≈ 31.39 cm, English foot : 1 ′ = 30.48 cm, French pied de Roi ("king's foot", Parisian foot): 1 ′ ≈ 32.48 cm
  • Identification of a corresponding second object in mathematics, e.g. B. the derivation of a function or the image of a transformation
  • Identification for numbers with different references in chemical names
  • dashed octave in music
  • Thousands separator for grouping digits on many pocket and desk calculators

Meanings of the double sign

  • Hardness characters in the transliteration of Cyrillic letters
  • Second , angle unit ( 160 minute)
  • Second , time unit ( 160 minute )
  • Inch , unit of length ( 112 feet); engl. inch : 1 ″ = 25.4 mm, French. pouce (Paris inch): 1 ″ ≈ 27.07 mm
  • Identification of a corresponding third object in mathematics
  • two-stroke octave in music

One character that looks similar but shouldn't be confused is the (straight) quotation mark (").

Meanings of the triple sign

  • Tertie , outdated angle unit ( 160 second), in astronomical data from the 17th to 18th centuries
  • Line , old unit of length ( 112 inch); engl. ligne / line : 1 ‴ ≈ 2.117 mm,
french ligne (Paris line): 1 ‴ ≈ 2.256 mm, until around 1950 for spirit level vials, today still for watchmakers
  • Identification of a corresponding fourth object in mathematics
  • three-stroke octave in music

Meaning of the quadruple character

  • Scrupel , old unit of length ( 112 line); french scrupule / douzième : 1 ⁗ ≈ 0.188 mm,
about half the size of today's typographical Didot point , 1 dd = 0.375 mm
  • Identification of a corresponding fifth object in mathematics
  • four-stroke octave in music

Further names, coding

The names of the characters are specified for English and French in ISO / IEC 10646 and in Unicode . There are different names in German:

Character *
Identifier Unicode
German English French hex. dec.
Line, prim, prime;
Minute sign
prime prime U + 2032 8242
Double prime, double prime;
Inch, second signs
double prime double prime U + 2033 8243
Triple stroke;
Line sign
triple prime triple prime U + 2034 8244
Four stroke;
Dot sign
quadruple prime quadruple prime U + 2057 8279
Character *
Identifier Unicode
German English French hex. dec.
Mirrored line reversed prime prime réfléchi U + 2035 8245
Mirrored double line reversed double prime double prime réfléchi U + 2036 8246
Mirrored three line reversed triple prime triple prime réfléchi U + 2037 8247
Character *
Identifier Unicode
German English French hex. dec.
ʹ Modifying stroke; modifier letter prime lettre modificative prime U + 02B9 697
ʺ Modifying double prime; modifier letter double prime lettre modificative seconde U + 02BA 698
* The characters are enlarged to 250%.

Visually similar signs

Notes: German names compiled from Wikipedia, DIN 66303 and Google, English names according to Unicode 5.2 and ISO / IEC 8859-1, French names according to ISO / IEC 10646.

' 0146 U + 2019 typographically correct apostrophe, apostrophe;
single closing quotation mark
right single quotation mark;
' 039 U + 0027 Replacement characters for apostrophe and quotation marks;
single straight quotation mark
apostrophe apostrophe
, 044 U + 002C comma comma virgule
` 096 U + 0060 Grave accent grave accent accent grave
̀ - U + 0300 combining grave accent combining grave accent diacritique accent grave (varia)
´ 0180 U + 00B4 Acute acute accent accent aigu
́ - U + 0301 combining acute combining acute accent diacritique accent aigu (oxeia, tonos)
0130 U + 201A left single quotation mark (bottom, 9 shape)
single opening quotation mark
single low-9 quotation mark;
low single comma quotation mark
guillemet-virgule inferieur
" 0132 U + 201E left double quote (99 shape);
double opening quotation mark
double low-9 quotation mark;
low double comma quotation mark
guillemet-virgule double inférieur
' 0145 U + 2018 right single quote (top, 6-shape);
single closing quote;
left single quotation mark;
single turned comma quotation mark
guillemet apostrophe culbuté
" 0147 U + 201C right double quote (66 shape);
double closing quotation mark
left double quotation mark;
double turned comma quotation mark
guillemet-apostrophe double culbuté
0148 U + 201D double quotation mark on the right;
double closing quotation mark
right double quotation mark;
double comma quotation mark
guillemet apostrophe double


Individual evidence