Greater-than sign
In UnicodeU+003E > GREATER-THAN SIGN (>, >)
Different from



The greater-than sign is a mathematical symbol that denotes an inequality between two values. The widely adopted form of two equal-length strokes connecting in an acute angle at the right, >, has been found in documents dated as far back as 1631.[1] In mathematical writing, the greater-than sign is typically placed between two values being compared and signifies that the first number is greater than the second number. Examples of typical usage include 1.5 > 1 and 1 > −2. The less-than sign and greater-than sign always "point" to the smaller number. Since the development of computer programming languages, the greater-than sign and the less-than sign have been repurposed for a range of uses and operations.


The earliest known use of the symbols < and > is found in Artis Analyticae Praxis ad Aequationes Algebraicas Resolvendas (The Analytical Arts Applied to Solving Algebraic Equations) by Thomas Harriot, published posthumously in 1631.[1] The text states "Signum majoritatis ut a > b significet a majorem quam b (The sign of majority a > b indicates that a is greater than b)" and "Signum minoritatis ut a < b significet a minorem quam b (The sign of minority a < b indicates that a is less than b)."

According to historian Art Johnson, while Harriot was surveying North America, he saw a Native American with a symbol that resembled the greater-than sign,[1] in both backwards and forwards forms.[2] Johnson says it is likely Harriot developed the two symbols from this symbol.[2]

Usage in text markup

Angle brackets

The greater-than sign is sometimes used for an approximation of the closing angle bracket, . The proper Unicode character is U+232A RIGHT-POINTING ANGLE BRACKET. ASCII does not have angular brackets.


In HTML (and SGML and XML), the greater-than sign is used at the end of tags. The greater-than sign may be included with &gt;, while &ge; produces the greater-than or equal to sign.

E-mail and Markdown

See also: Usenet quoting, Posting style, Markdown, and Diple (textual symbol)

In some early e-mail systems, the greater-than sign was used to denote quotations.[3] The sign is also used to denote quotations in Markdown.[4]

Usage in programming

The 'greater-than sign' > is encoded in ASCII as character hex 3E, decimal 62. The Unicode code point is U+003E > GREATER-THAN SIGN, inherited from ASCII.

For use with HTML, the mnemonics &gt; or &GT; may also be used.

Programming language

BASIC and C-family languages (including Java[5] and C++) use the comparison operator > to mean "greater than". In Lisp-family languages, > is a function used to mean "greater than". In Coldfusion and Fortran, operator .GT. means "greater than".

Double greater-than sign

Not to be confused with Guillemet.

The double greater-than sign, >>, is used for an approximation of the much-greater-than sign . ASCII does not have the much greater-than sign.

The double greater-than sign is also used for an approximation of the closing guillemet, ».

In Java, C, and C++, the operator >> is the right-shift operator. In C++ it is also used to get input from a stream, similar to the C functions getchar and fgets.

In Haskell, the >> function is a monadic operator. It is used for sequentially composing two actions, discarding any value produced by the first. In that regard, it is like the statement sequencing operator in imperative languages, such as the semicolon in C.

In XPath the >> operator returns true if the left operand follows the right operand in document order; otherwise it returns false.[6]

Triple greater-than sign

The triple greater-than sign, >>>, is the unsigned-right-shift operator in JavaScript. Three greater-than signs form the distinctive prompt of the firmware console in MicroVAX, VAXstation, and DEC Alpha computers (known as the SRM console in the latter). This is also the default prompt of the Python interactive shell, often seen for code examples that can be executed interactively in the interpreter:

Python 3.9.2 (default, Feb 20 2021, 18:40:11) 
[GCC 10.2.0] on linux
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> print("Hello World")
Hello World

Greater-than sign with equals sign

The greater-than sign plus the equals sign, >=, is sometimes used for an approximation of the greater than or equal to sign, which was not included in the ASCII repertoire. The sign is, however, provided in Unicode, as U+2265 GREATER-THAN OR EQUAL TO (&ge;, &geq;, &GreaterEqual;).

In BASIC, Lisp-family languages, and C-family languages (including Java and C++), operator >= means "greater than or equal to". In Sinclair BASIC it is encoded as a single-byte code point token.

In Fortran, operator .GE. means "greater than or equal to".

In Bourne shell and Windows PowerShell, the operator -ge means "greater than or equal to".

In Lua, operator >=means "greater than or equal to" and is used like this

x = math.random(1,9)
y = 5
if x >= y then
    print("x("..x..") is more or equal to y("..y..")")
    print("x("..x..") is less than y("..y..")")

expected output: x(number >= 5) is more or equal to y(5) or x(number < 5) is less than y(5)

Hyphen-minus with greater-than sign

In some programming languages (for example F#), the greater-than sign is used in conjunction with a hyphen-minus to create an arrow (->). Arrows like these could also be used in text where other arrow symbols are unavailable. In the R programming language, this can be used as the right assignment operator. In the C, C++, and PHP, this is used as a member access operator. In Swift and Python, it is used to indicate the return value type when defining a function (i.e., func foo() -> MyClass {...}).

Shell scripts

In Bourne shell (and many other shells), greater-than sign is used to redirect output to a file. Greater-than plus ampersand (>&) is used to redirect to a file descriptor.

Spaceship operator

Greater-than sign is used in the 'spaceship operator', <=>.

ECMAScript and C#

In ECMAScript and C#, the greater-than sign is used in lambda function expressions.

In ECMAScript:

const square = x => x * x;
console.log(square(5)); // 25

In C#:

Func<int, int> square = x => x * x;
Console.WriteLine(square(5)); // 25


In PHP, the greater-than sign is used in conjunction with the less-than sign as a not equal to operator. It is the same as the != operator.

$x = 5;
$y = 3;
$z = 5;

echo $x <> $y; // true
echo $x <> $z; // false


In addition to U+003E > GREATER-THAN SIGN (&gt;, &GT;), Unicode provides various greater than symbols:[7]

Symbol Code Point Name
U+2369 Apl Functional Symbol Greater-Than Diaeresis
U+2344 Apl Functional Symbol Quad Greater-Than
U+29C1 Circled Greater-Than
U+2995 Double Left Arc Greater-Than Bracket
U+2A9A Double-Line Equal To Or Greater-Than
U+2A9C Double-Line Slanted Equal To Or Greater-Than
U+2AFA Double-Line Slanted Greater-Than Or Equal To
U+2AA2 Double Nested Greater-Than
U+FF1E Fullwidth greater than Sign
U+22DD Equal To Or Greater-Than
U+2978 Greater-Than Above Rightwards Arrow
U+2A8E Greater-Than Above Similar Or Equal
U+2A8A Greater-Than And Not Approximate
U+2A88 Greater-Than And Single-Line Not Equal To
U+2269 Greater-Than But Not Equal To
U+22E7 Greater-Than But Not Equivalent To
U+2AA7 Greater-Than Closed By Curve
U+2AA9 Greater-Than Closed By Curve Above Slanted Equal
U+2A86 Greater-Than Or Approximate
U+2265 Greater-Than Or Equal To
U+2273 Greater-Than Or Equivalent To
U+2A7E Greater-Than Or Slanted Equal To
U+2A82 Greater-Than Or Slanted Equal To With Dot Above
U+2A84 Greater-Than Or Slanted Equal To With Dot Above Left
U+2A80 Greater-Than Or Slanted Equal To With Dot Inside
U+2267 Greater-Than Over Equal To
> U+003E Greater-Than Sign
U+2A7A Greater-Than With Circle Inside
U+22D7 Greater-Than With Dot
U+2A7C Greater-Than With Question Mark Above
U+226B Much Greater-Than
U+2271 Neither Greater-Than Nor Equal To
U+2275 Neither Greater-Than Nor Equivalent To
U+226F Not Greater-Than
U+2994 Right Arc Greater-Than Bracket
U+2AA0 Similar Above Greater-Than Above Equals Sign
U+2A9E Similar Or Greater-Than
U+2A96 Slanted Equal To Or Greater-Than
U+2A98 Slanted Equal To Or Greater-Than With Dot Inside
U+FE65 Small greater than sign
U+2AF8 Triple Nested Greater-Than
U+22D9 Very Much Greater-Than

See also


  1. ^ a b c Smith, Charles L. (1964). "On the origin of ">" and "<"". The Mathematics Teacher. 57 (7): 479–481. doi:10.5951/MT.57.7.0479. ISSN 0025-5769. JSTOR 27957118. Archived from the original on 2022-06-05. Retrieved 2022-06-05.
  2. ^ a b Johnson, Art. "History of Mathematical Symbols". Classic Math: History Topics for the Classroom. Dale Seymour Publications, 1994.
  3. ^ Sherwood, Kaitlin Duck (22 October 1998). "A Beginner's Guide to Effective Email". www.webfoot.com. Archived from the original on 2021-10-14. Retrieved 2021-08-31.
  4. ^ "Markdown Syntax Cheatsheet". Lanna Digital. Archived from the original on 2021-08-31. Retrieved 2021-08-31.
  5. ^ "Summary of Operators". Oracle Corporation. Archived from the original on 16 April 2020. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  6. ^ "XML Path Language (XPath) 2.0 (Second Edition)". www.w3.org. W3C. 14 December 2010. Archived from the original on 7 October 2022. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Greater than symbol". Archived from the original on 2023-05-18. Retrieved 2023-06-06.