When speaking in English about Spanish orthography, what diacritics does the word "tilde" cover? Does it only refer to the diacritic on top of "ñ", or does it also cover things like the diacritical mark in "á"? Also, are the two dots on top of "ü" also referred to by the term "tilde"?

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    Although it refers to the Spanish orthography, this is a question about the English Language & Usage, and should hence be asked there. – Charlie May 21 '19 at 12:22
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    @Charlie I think it occupies one of those fairly gray areas and could be asked in either SE. While it's asking for terminology in English, that terminology is fairly directly related to Spanish, far more so than, say, asking how to say a given Spanish expression in English. – user0721090601 May 21 '19 at 12:23
  • Actually, given that this is more or less akin to asking "What terminology should I use when writing questions in English about the Spanish accent marks?", I think it would fit better as a Meta question, like @guifa's famous one: "How do we show how things are pronounced?". We keep it in the stack, we answer it, but we do not encourage users to ask in the main site about English terminology. – walen May 21 '19 at 12:48
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    @walen ¿lo debatimos en Meta? – Charlie May 21 '19 at 13:00

In English, tilde refers to the symbol ~, but not diacritics generally. ´ is technically called an acute accent, but because there is no other type of accent in modern Spanish, it's generally just called an accent. And ¨ is called a dieresis (it's the same symbol as an umlaut, but in English umlaut is generally reserved for modifications of the vowel sound, whereas dieresis can be used to indicate that a vowel should be pronounced as a separate syllable, as an exception to the usual phonetic rules). So, to sum up:

  • ~ tilde virgulilla
  • ´ accent tilde
  • ¨ dieresis diéresis
  • Guifa, please feel free to roll back some or all of my edits. // One example for each, in the bulleted list, would be a welcome addition. Another helpful thing to add to the bulleted points: the name for each, in Spanish (maybe using italics). – aparente001 May 22 '19 at 4:43
  • I generally say an accent mark, not just accent. – Lambie May 23 '19 at 19:51

In Spanish, "tilde" refers to the mark for the accent and the wave above the n.


De tildar.

  1. f. acento (‖ signo ortográfico español). Raúl se escribe con tilde en la u. Era u. t. c. m.
  2. f. Signo en forma de rayita, a veces ondulada, que forma parte de algunas letras, como la ñ, y que antiguamente se usaba en algunas abreviaturas. Era u. t. c. m.
  3. f. Cosa mínima.
  4. f. p. us. Tacha, nota denigrativa. Era u. t. c. m.

Real Academia Española © Todos los derechos reservados

But all of the marks used in Spanish above the letters are called "virgulillas", as is shown in DRAE's definition:


Del dim. de vírgula.

  1. f. Signo ortográfico de forma de coma, rasguillo o trazo; p. ej., el apóstrofo, la cedilla, la tilde de la ñ, etc.
  2. f. Raya o línea corta y muy delgada.

Real Academia Española © Todos los derechos reservados

Best regards.

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