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Multiplication sign
Different from
Different fromU+0078 x LATIN SMALL LETTER X

The multiplication sign (×), also known as the times sign or the dimension sign, is a mathematical symbol used to denote the operation of multiplication, which results in a product.[1] While similar to a lowercase X (x), the form is properly a four-fold rotationally symmetric saltire.[2]

The symbol is also used in botany, in botanical hybrid names and the heavy goods vehicle industry, to calculate the amount of powered wheels.


The earliest known use of the × symbol to represent multiplication appears in an anonymous appendix to the 1618 edition of John Napier's Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonis Descriptio.[3] This appendix has been attributed to William Oughtred,[3] who used the same symbol in his 1631 algebra text, Clavis Mathematicae, stating:

Multiplication of species [i.e. unknowns] connects both proposed magnitudes with the symbol 'in' or ×: or ordinarily without the symbol if the magnitudes be denoted with one letter.[4]

An earlier use of the symbol from the 1500s appears in The Ground of Arts, where it is used in the context of a mental arithmetic method for computing simple, single-digit multiplications. Rob Eastaway theorizes that this may have been the original influence for John Napier's more general usage.[5]

Two even earlier uses of a notation have been identified, but do not stand critical examination.[3]


In mathematics, the symbol × has a number of uses, including

In biology, the multiplication sign is used in a botanical hybrid name, for instance Ceanothus papillosus × impressus (a hybrid between C. papillosus and C. impressus) or Crocosmia × crocosmiiflora (a hybrid between two other species of Crocosmia). However, the communication of these hybrid names with a Latin letter "x" is common, when the actual "×" symbol is not readily available.

The multiplication sign is also used by historians for an event between two dates. When employed between two dates – for example 1225 and 1232 – the expression "1225×1232" means "no earlier than 1225 and no later than 1232".[7]

A monadic × symbol is used by the APL programming language to denote the sign function.

Similar notations

Main article: Multiplication: Notation

The lower-case Latin letter x is sometimes used in place of the multiplication sign. This is considered incorrect in mathematical writing.

In algebraic notation, widely used in mathematics, a multiplication symbol is usually omitted wherever it would not cause confusion: "a multiplied by b" can be written as ab or a b.[1]

Other symbols can also be used to denote multiplication, often to reduce confusion between the multiplication sign × and the common variable x. In some countries, such as Germany, the primary symbol for multiplication is the "dot operator" (as in a⋅b). This symbol is also used in compound units of measurement, e.g., N⋅m (see International System of Units#Lexicographic conventions). In algebra, it is a notation to resolve ambiguity (for instance, "b times 2" may be written as b⋅2, to avoid being confused with a value called b2). This notation is used wherever multiplication should be written explicitly, such as in "ab = a⋅2 for b = 2"; this usage is also seen in English-language texts. In some languages, the use of full stop as a multiplication symbol, such as a.b, is common when the symbol for decimal point is comma.

Historically, computer language syntax was restricted to the ASCII character set, and the asterisk * became the de facto symbol for the multiplication operator. This selection is reflected in the numeric keypad on English-language keyboards, where the arithmetic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are represented by the keys +, -, * and /, respectively.

Typing the character

HTML, SGML, XML × or ×
macOS In the Character Palette by searching for MULTIPLICATION SIGN[8]
Microsoft Windows
  • Via the Emoji and Symbol input panel, invoked with the ⊞ Win+. key combination (Windows 10 version 1803 and later)
  • Via the Touch Keyboard component of the Taskbar (Windows 10 and later)
  • Some non-English keyboard layouts have it as an explicit keytop, like in Arabic keyboard.
  • Using US International keyboard layout, use Alt+=
  • Via the Character Map utility: in the eighth row, or by searching
  • The Alt+0215 key combination using the numeric keypad[9] times
  • \times
  • \cdot
Unix-like (Linux, ChromeOS)

Unicode and HTML entities

Other variants and related characters:

See also


  1. ^ a b c Weisstein, Eric W. "Multiplication". Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  2. ^ Stallings, L. (2000). "A Brief History of Algebraic Notation". School Science and Mathematics. 100 (5): 230–235. doi:10.1111/j.1949-8594.2000.tb17262.x. ISSN 0036-6803.
  3. ^ a b c Cajori, Florian (1928). A History of Mathematical Notations, Volume I: Notations in Elementary Mathematics. Open Court. pp. 251–252.
  4. ^ William Oughtred (1667). Clavis Mathematicae. p. 10. Multiplicatio speciosa connectit utramque magintudinem propositam cum notâ in vel ×: vel plerumque absque notâ, si magnitudines denotentur unica litera
  5. ^ "The Big X - Numberphile". YouTube. Retrieved 2024-07-07.
  6. ^ Nykamp, Duane. "Cartesian product definition". Math Insight. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  7. ^ New Hart's rules: the handbook of style for writers and editors, Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 183, ISBN 978-0-19-861041-0
  8. ^ "Mac Zeichenpalette" (in German). TypoWiki. Archived from the original on 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
  9. ^ "Unicode Character 'MULTIPLICATION SIGN' (U+00D7)". Retrieved 2017-01-13.