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"?

  • Related: ¿Es correcto llamar “acento” a una tilde?
    – fedorqui
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 12:21
  • 1
    Although it refers to the Spanish orthography, this is a question about the English Language & Usage, and should hence be asked there.
    – Charlie
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 12:22
  • 1
    @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. Commented May 21, 2019 at 12:23
  • 2
    @walen ¿lo debatimos en Meta?
    – Charlie
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 13:00

2 Answers 2


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
  • I generally say an accent mark, not just accent.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 23, 2019 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.

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Best regards.

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