Caret - Definitions, Functions, Uses with Examples

Caret – Definitions, Functions, Uses with Examples

The caret is one of the least used punctuation marks in conventional writing. This, however, does not mean it is not used at all. This post, Caret – Definitions, Functions, Uses with Examples beams a searchlight on this punctuation mark, the caret.

Caret – Definitions, Functions, Uses with Examples

If you check the keyboard of your laptop or computer system, especially if it is a standard US QWERTY Keyboard, the caret is the symbol (^) above the number 6 key. Go ahead and check it out.

Origin of the Word ‘Caret’

The word derives from Latin and it literally means “there is lacking,” which is a form of ‘carere’ meaning “to lack”. Do you know that the word ‘caret’ is pronounced exactly the same way we pronounce the word ‘carrot’? This means the two words are homophones.

Definitions and Uses of the Caret

The caret is a mark that we use to indicate that an item (letter, word, phrase or mark) is missing or has been omitted in a text.  The caret is another term that is used to mean the ‘cursor’. On the other hand, it is referred to as the circumflex.

However, when it comes to Math, the caret signifies an exponent, square, cube, or other power. In proofreading, the caret is also a mark made on printed or manuscript material to show where a punctuation mark, word, or phrase should be inserted in a document.

The writer inserts this mark at the point where the item is missing. The item could be a letter, a word or a phrase as mentioned earlier. 

Examples of the Caret

Let us see some examples of the use of the caret: 

  • The teacher arrived (^) the class before the students. (at the)
  • They accepted his sincere (^) heartfelt condolences. (and)
  • We would like you to bring some (^) for the food. (plates)
  • She went to (^) convenience. (the)
  • Little drops (^) water make a mighty ocean. (of)
  • The boy (^) holding the flag, when he fell.  (was)

Functions and Uses of the Caret in English

There are various uses of the caret as one of the punctuation marks. Such uses include the following:

We use it in Proofreading

As pointed out earlier, caret is a mark proofreaders use in pointing out mistakes in a text by its insertion in the space between the words where the mistake or omission might be. Additionally, if a writer wants to insert anything in their text, they make use of the caret.

Caret Indicates Contour in Tone

Some languages are tonal in nature; that is, there is a change in tone from one syllable to another or from a word to another. We call this significant or observable fact ‘tone contouring’. The caret denotes this tonal variation when we transcribe spoken utterance. The pitch could either be falling tone or rising tone depending on whether the tone goes up or down.

Indicating Something Already Said

Another use of the caret is that in chatting online, one can use the caret to refer to some comments or chats one has made above in the chat page. Though we are in the digital era where there are thousands of emojis and emoticons to indicate such, the caret is also a way to indicate a comment above in a chat room. Caret also shows, in a chat room, that one is replying to a comment right above theirs; in another instance, it means the reader below agrees to the comment made above his. Moreover, when the caret is repeated such as this [^^^^^^^^^^^], it means the speaker wants the to review the line mentioned above again.

An Indication of a Long Vowel

In some languages such as Portuguese and French, linguists sometimes use the caret to denote the presence of a long vowel. This is to help differentiate a long vowel from a short one.

To Signify Exponentiation

We have already said that when it comes to Math, the caret signifies an exponent, square, cube, or other power. In using the caret symbol in math, 103 can also be equally represented thus: 10^3.

Used in Computer Programming Languages

When it comes to coding, writing computer syntax or programmes or generally in the field of Computer Programming, programmers use the caret. It indicates the command of matching the initial character with one line or string of command. In C programming language, the caret (^) is used for the Boolean operation of XOR which is functional for databases.

There are some other use of the caret that you can check out.


I am certain you have learned one thing or the other about this not so much popular punctuation mark, the caret in this post Caret – Definitions, Functions, Uses with Examples. You can check out other punctuation marks that I have also put together for your reading pleasure. Do not forget to share this knowledge and connect with us on our Social Media platforms. It is just a click away. See you around.

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