Names for graphic shapes?

I wonder what the actual names of these two graphical shapes would be. I mean terms of the sort ‘cross’, ‘triangle’ etcª.
Suggestions in whatever language appreciated.


  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,433
    1 is a 3-pointed star.  2 looks like it might be Navaho or some other Native American Indian glyph?
  • SiDanielsSiDaniels Posts: 277
    Three prong swastika without arms. App store logo.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,537
    1. Heart valve
    2. Easel

    Unfortunately, I can't find my copy of Symbol Sourcebook, by Henry Dreyfuss. I wouldn't be surprised if these were in it.
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,911
    1. Sign of the great race of Yith
    2. Mark of an early American witch cult
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,280
    1. 3-point asterisk
  • in medieval heraldry #1 could be almost interpreted as a caltrop, but that's I guess that's not what you're looking for. 
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,280
    2. XXX rotary trigraph
  • The first round  …

    … and the flower pot goes to – Simon – for the most lucid and witty suggestions.

  • 1.

    Tristem seems to be an obvious term. In German Dreibein is a common expression for stand devices such as for fireplaces or cameras. Also widely known is Dreifuß for similar devices, e.g. in chemistry (laboratory tool, stand for vessels) and for a shoemaker’s tool that somehow resembles the ancient triskele motif. However, aan actual triskelion always has angled or curved extensions to the 3 branches and therefore would rather not apply here. Fig. 1 represents the bird’s eye view of the layout of a tristem (tripod).

    A similar case is the Dreipaß, a term in gothic architecture, also sometimes appearing in heraldry:

    3-pointed star: yes BUT; the man on the Clapham omnibus would name this a star only when it comes with pointed terminals, I suppose. Moreover, I look rather for a single straightforward term than a descriptive one.

    The caltrop poses the issue that it in physical life it consists essentially of four branches (unlike the Dreibein!). Heraldic depictions always show it with four parts:

    In German this martial instrument is referred to as Fußangel (“foot-hinge”) which points at its use in warfare. Tetrapods for coastline fortification are based on the same geometry.

    I think tristem, tripod and Dreifuß (rather than Dreibein) would be optimal choices.

  • 2.

    This one is more tricky.

    Trisect, again, seems reasonable to me. However, a check of the term reveals other things and structures:

    I’m somewhat thrilled about the fact that this suggestive structure should have been given no name at all so far. Why is that so? Perhaps, because it has not proven to the day its practical usefulness, in construction or warfare? “Early Navaho” or “American witchcraft” sounds suggestive indeed, though I’d like to see this testified by ethnological study first … It is always possible that some neglected folks somewhere actually do have a genuine term for it – only we do not have knowlegde of it. Even while studying prehistoric petroglyphs or early writing systems, I do not recall I would have come across this shape.
    There are only two real-life cases I manage to relate to this shape.
    One is a certain type of resting or picnic hut which can be found in the countryside (at least in Germany):

    (Although the entire construction consists of at least seven timber parts, the actual basic construction which fixes the whole arrangement, consists of just the three members shown in black (right side)).
    The other is the runway layout scheme of a number of airports, namely British military airfields. The frequency with which this topography occurs, is striking:

  • 2. (continued)

    Now, for a name it seems we need to be a bit creative here. These are my coarse thoughts so far:
    a) the trash – partial resemblance of a triangle and the hash (#). Sounds crips but not very nice, too ironic.
    b) in German something with Drei-, Dri- could lead to Dreiz, Drietz or Dritz.
    c) in English, respectively, it could be a tritz, triz ore trize (trix is a trademark).
    d) the basic shape of the X/Chi is known in heraldic terminology as saltire (en.) and Schrag[en] or Schrägkreuz (ger.). – what about saltix and Schraz?

  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,537
    edited July 2016
    I quite like trix. Too bad it's a trademark. Maybe trex? Or triex? (tri + ex)

    (Man, autocorrect is very unhelpful sometimes.)
  • 1. Propeller
    2. Anarchigram

  • Simon CozensSimon Cozens Posts: 660
    I thought about the anarchist reference too, but it seems like the circle is a required component of the anarchy symbol: the A for anarchy and the O for order. This would be already encoded as 

    The version with extended legs came about as part of punk's adoption of anarchic themes and symbolism. So maybe "punk-a"? (But we are getting deep into bikeshed painting now.)
  • 1. Propeller: they vary in number of blades (2, 3, 4, 6, 8)
    But the resemblance is striking of course, in this case.

    2. Anarchigram: the circle (surely not an O?) is mandadory for that mark, whereas the presence of 3 crossings is not. Therefore: a similarity yes, but not the same. Not to mention that a general term for a graphic shape should not reflect one particular individual symbolic/emblematic usage.

  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,980
    2. Trestix. Diverse cultures throw sticks as a means of fortune telling. Admittedly sticks is English, while Latin and Greek have the most credibility for international nomenclature—but “-stix” is a bit Latiny, ennit?
  • Russell McGormanRussell McGorman Posts: 250
    edited July 2016
    the geometric assumption of any straight line as a concept is that, in the abstract it can continue on to infinity. With that in mind, 1 is a point with three radiating lines - presumably on the same plane and 2 is a triangle (which is also part of an implied continuing hexagon/triangle lattice.) :)

    I think a reason it's difficult to came up with names for these shapes is they aren't classical geometric shapes because of the inclusion of open line segments, or they are arrays of overlapping rectangles. There's no lexicon I can think of for line segments beyond descriptions of their properties... not that I'm a math wiz or have any thing beyond a basic vocabulary of geometric terminology.
  • I neglected to add a ;) to my post.
  • 2. Trestix
    – sounds like an interesting candidate!
    Good of you to point at that throwing-sticks game. In German we name it Mikado.
    In English I found jackstraws, spelicans, spillikins, pick-a-stick for it. – ?
    That opens some more possibilities!
  • we should just name it Jack.
  • K PeaseK Pease Posts: 177
    Symbol 1 features in puzzle game The Witness, in which players must deduce the rules signified by deliberately arbitrary symbols. I've watched a lot of YouTube play-throughs, because I like seeing how different people solve a mystery. I believe "caltrop" is the most frequent name players have independently given it before knowing what it's for.

    I like the idea of analogy to the hash for Symbol 2. "Thrash" would be a nicer casual term than "trash". Furthermore, from the 1971 coinage "octothorpe", we may neatly derive "hexathorpe".
  • I doubt that in common life much people refer to the # as octothorpe, hence I am not favouring hexathorpe that much so far, although it is a nice analogy on the intellectual level. But I’m not an English native speaker.
  • K Pease said:
    That's awesome! So is "caltrop".
  • 'octothorpe' is a peculiar word since 'thorpe' looks Germanic rather than greco-latinate. So I'd suggest 'sexythorpe' over 'hexathorpe'.
  • Only tangential, but I once was called out by a native English speaker for using "graphic shape" — she said a raised middle finger is a graphic shape. Graphical, geometric, visual, anything is better ;)
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