|Definition - One of the many names of the / symbol.|
1. Use it to represent disjunction (i.e. mutually incompatible alternatives).
You can lease/purchase the automobile right now.
2. Use it instead of the hyphen or the en dash to indicate a strong relationship.
3. Use it to mark line breaks in poetry.
Roses are red / Violets are blue / virgules lean forward / solidos do too
4. Use it to represent either a fraction or division.
5. Use it to represent per or to in measures and ratios.
miles/hour (miles per hour)
price/earnings ratio (price to earnings ratio)
Etymology - The word derives via French from the Latin virgula, punctuation mark, which is the diminutive of the Latin virga, twig; thus it literally means "little twig."
Oxford English Dictionary - Its first citation is from 1837:
"In the manuscripts of Chaucer, the line is always broken by a cæsura in the middle, which is pointed out by a virgule."
(Hallam Hist. Lit. i. viii. §26)