The "No" Sign

Is there a name for the circle-with-a-line-through-it that denotes “No ______ Allowed”? I’m sure I’ve seen this here before, but the search engine turns up nothing.


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I always thought it was called “the universal ‘no’ sign.”

FWIW, my friends and I refer to it as a “prohibisphere.”

The “Nixon”? (Emphasis on “nix”)

Folks 'round these parts call it “the circle-slash.”

Slightly OT, but a pet peeve of mine – the slash should run from the upper left to the lower right. It is, after all, a stylized “N”. Running from the lower left to upper right, while undoubtedly just as effective, looks dorky to me.

Just my anything-but-humble opinion…

Who said it was a “stylized N”? I’ve almost always seen it with the slash like / rather than \ and it looks just fine to me.

Incidentally, I’ve noticed quite frequently that people install “No smoking” signs upside down. They have a picture of a cigarette with the smoking going up, with the circle-slash across it. Yet some people don’t seem to “get” that smoke rises. Am I the only one to notice this?

Back off, man. I’m a scientist.

The “ghostbusters” sign notwithstanding, the convention is:

The line is in the “N” shape to symbolize an interdiction. The reverse signifies (at least in European road signs) an “end of the interdiction.”

see “Interdiction signs”


means “no left turn.”

means “end of 50 km/h speed limit.”, or “end of interdiction to drive over 50 km/h”.

J’ai assez vécu pour voir que différence engendre haine.

Of course in Europe a sign with a P on it means no parking while a sign with a crossed out P means you can park there. I guess it’s just to make some dosh off of American tourists.

Tim: I’ve noticed the upside down signs too. Pretty stupid.

I don’t get it. If the smoke is going up, it is rising. Or are you saying that people are hanging the sign so that the smoke trails downward, beneath the cigarette?


Why sex is better than religion: There are laws against forcing sex on minors who can’t think for themselves.

Since when?

The sign meaning “parking allowed” is this.

The sign meaning “no parking” is this.

See “signs related to parking”.

J’ai assez vécu pour voir que différence engendre haine.

Arnold: Well it is like that in Germany and Eastern Europe. Most of Europe is trying to standardize things for the EU so one standard or the other won’t last long.


I don’t recall ever seeing signs like that in Germany. But what does the sign look like?

If I saw a sign that was a red-bordered circle with a P in it, then I would assume that means “no parking” since red-bordered circles are interedictions.

If I saw a white circle with a black line crossing the P, then I would assume that means “end of interdiction of parking.” See examples in one of my previous postings.

J’ai assez vécu pour voir que différence engendre haine.


Sorry about that; I phrased myself badly. What I meant is that I’ve often seen <font face=“Arial,Helvetica”>No Smoking</font> signs with the plume of smoke going downwards.

Well, at least Konrad understood what I meant.

Yep, red bordered circle, that’s the one.

The line is indeed supposed to go from upper left to lower right. In so doing, it echoes the infamous “bar sinister” from heraldry, which denotes illegitimate birth. By extension, the prohibitory sign confers illegitimacy on the action depicted within the circle.

(Whew! Boy, that sounded stuffy. But I’m too lazy to change it.)

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You’re kidding. Are people really that dumb?

Upper left to lower right, my ass. It’s there cause it bloody well crosses it out, that’s why it’s there.

Why does something so obvious have to stand for something so complicated? This is like people who believe fuck stands for “for unlawful carnal knowledge”.

If you believe it stands for the N in no then you have to prove that it originated in an English-speaking country. Same thing with the illegitimate birth thing, not everybody in the world uses that notation.