Why is the "<" symbol named the "less-than sign"?

Richard Wordingham richard.wordingham at ntlworld.com
Wed Sep 16 06:33:43 CDT 2020

On Wed, 16 Sep 2020 10:43:41 +0000
Roger L Costello via Unicode <unicode at unicode.org> wrote:

> I realize that mathematicians use the "<" symbol to denote the
> less-than relation. Who decided that that symbol would denote the
> less-than relation?

Wikipedia says Thomas Harriot, who died in 1621, possibly killed by
tobacco.  (The book with the symbol in was published in 1631.)  You may

> So why is the "<" symbol named the "less-than sign"?

Because that was the use of the symbol that the namers learnt in school.
What symbol did you first learn for that meaning?


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