What Does Caret Mean?

The caret is a spacing character in many character sets, including ASCII, and looks like an inverted V-shaped grapheme. The caret character is used in many programming languages and is also still used as a proofreading mark.


A caret is also known as a circumflex accent.

Techopedia Explains Caret

The caret was historically introduced in handwritten form as a proofreading mark. It was used to indicate a word, phrase or punctuation that needs to be inserted at a certain location in a document. In the ASCII character set, the value 5E (hexadecimal) is reserved for the caret. Early computer systems such as microcomputers and mainframes made use of the caret character. However, with the technology advance in computer monitors, the caret character was less required and was left for other requirements. It was also difficult to accommodate above a letter due to the larger appearance.

The caret is used in various programming languages to signify the XOR operator, control characters and string concatenation. It is still used in regular expressions, to mark the beginning of a line or string. Pascal makes use of caret for pointer declarations. The programming language Go uses the caret as a bitwise NOT operator. The caret key is available in all standard U.S. qwerty keyboards.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…