○×✓(マルバツ)は海外でも通じない:Meaning of tick / check marks, crosses, circles in Japan, UK, US

Test markings in Japan: Check marks or X represent a wrong answer and circles correct ones.

Test markings in US: Circle doesn't necessarily mean it's correct.

Test markings in US: check marks, no marks, or C mean it's correct.

In Japan, the circle (maru, O) means Yes, cross (batsu, batten, peke, X) means NO.

When the former SONY designer, Teiyu Goto, explained it as part of the creator's intended symbolism for the triangle, square, circle, cross designs in PlayStation controller, non-Japanese readers got really shocked and said "I finally know why in most Japanese games, users select with circle and cancel with cross!"

Japanese readers got shocked no less; "Gee, it never occurred to me that non-Japanese games go backward!"

The circle (maru, ○) represents completeness, entirety, and excellence in Japan and Korea.  Some say that Maru sound came from Chinese character "満" meaning 'fullness,' while Batsu or Batten sound probably came from Chinese character "罰点" (penalty points).

The origin of symbol?   We don't know.  Some speculate that it was Yukichi Fukuzawa, the guy on 10,000 yen bill, who started to use O/X system as we now it now. Maybe yes, maybe not.

Check marks and crosses in US and UK

What's interesting is that US people use checks (✓) and crosses (x) alike, whereas British people refer ticks (✓) and crosses (x) as right/wrong marks. Japanese-learner from Hong Kong who lived in US for 6 yrs and currently lives in Germany says that Americans developed their own sets of rules;

Sometime I cannot believe how arrogant Americans are with regard to filling out forms. Because of my work, I have administered many consumer research studies in which people were asked to answer a few very simple questions on the questionnaires regarding their impressions of the quality of the products of inquiry. They treated the instructions as if they were optional: When asked to fill in the circle next to one of the descriptions that fitted their situations best, there would always be people who put checkmarks, cross marks or even circle the descriptions themselves completely disregarding the space we provided for them. With respect to all these defiant behaviors, I could only attribute them to the traumatic SAT/ACT experience many Americans have to go through as teenagers, which forever disabled them from ever “filling in the box” again. - Cultural Convolution - Maru and Batsu

There. Maybe he's right. Blame check sheet!  Scantron!  Ballots!

☑  ballot box check mark
☒  ballot box with X

Check marks once had negative meanings in US...

What's more intriguing is this;
"I always grew up learning that a red check mark next to your homework meant the answer was wrong. My Mom said all the schools she ever went to used the check mark to mark an answer wrong. Now I've learned that any check mark whatsoever next to a piece of work means it is correct. Did the meaning change over the years? -"Did the Check Mark change meanings?"- Yahoo Answers

@catebrubaker suspects US got globalized (or they simply ignored UK/European system in the first place and told Japanese to copy them, and only later they realized it was backward! OMG!  and corrected it without telling us...?);

"When I was in high school, it was super obvious to me that teachers used the check mark to indicate a wrong answer on quiz or test. As far as I can remember, all of my teachers in every school I attended used the check mark in this way. Except my German teacher. Who was from Austria. [...]

Check out the responses – they clearly show that not everyone interprets the check mark in the same way, maybe nowadays not even within the same country. Hmmm, has globalization even affected the check mark?

American linguist in UK shares her experience in South Africa;
Now, this took some getting used to when I first started teaching in South Africa, where they use the same system. Why? Because when/where I was a child, a checkmark (AmE for ✓) on your work meant that you got it wrong. [...]

It seems that many American schools use the British system of ✓ for 'correct' and X for 'incorrect', while calling them check(mark)s and exes still. It's not clear to me whether this is a recent innovation or a long-standing variation. (American readers--did you get checked or exed wrong, and when?) But there is some evidence that the system that I knew as a youngster is still around in some places [...]

During the first multiracial elections in South Africa (which I was lucky enough to witness), trainers crossed the country teaching people how to mark a ballot paper. One of the things that they had to contend with was the fact that people with some schooling saw the X as a sign of wrongness, so rather than putting a cross/X next to the person they wanted to vote for, it was some people's urge to put crosses next to all the people they didn't want to vote for. So, it's not just the tick/checkmark that can sometimes mean 'wrong' and sometimes mean 'right'--the cross/X can too. [Go on to read comments]
Yeah, it's still around in Japan!   We cross out candidates we don't wanna see forever.

PSコントローラ◯×□△ボタン誕生にまつわる話」で面白かったのが、マルバツの定義に対する読者の反応だ。欧米の人は「へー日本って○×そういう意味で使うんだ! 日本のゲームが○×反対な理由がやっと分かった!」と驚愕し、日本の人も「えー海外って○×反対なの!?」と仰天してるのだ。








日本語を学んだ経験のある香港出身のCHOさん(米国に6年住んでドイツ在住)は「Maru and Batsu」というエントリでこの件に触れ、アメリカがまた勝手にルール作って他国に押し付けとるわい、と書いてる。

☑  ballot box check mark
☒  ballot box with X   



あとXには「ここだよ、ここ!」という目印の意味もあるので、「ここだけ加点」というところにバッテン(X)して+3オマケつけたり、「ここ記入」という署名欄にX印、「この子かわいい」と写真にX印、「この薬ちょうだい」でX印、ついでにXXXでキスキスキス、エロ映画など節操がない。「麻薬持ってません」にX印つけたアメリカ人は持ってるのか持っていないのか? いい加減にせえや!と。

PSコントローラに話を戻すと、アメリカ人は終わったものに「〆」みたいな感覚で「X」つけてクローズするので、「バツ(X)」ボタンで「キャンセルして戻る」というのは抵抗あるみたいよ? 一方、「O」は「保留、オープン」なので、「マル(○)」ボタンで確定して進むというのも抵抗ある、らしい、ふむ。

とかなんとか言いつつ米CBS放送『America's Got Talent』の審査もバッテン(×)は減点だったりするんだな、これが!




Q: 私はずっと子どもの頃から、宿題で隣に赤のチェックマーク(✓)が入ってたら間違いだと教わって育ちました。ママも、自分が通った学校はどこも誤答にチェックマークつけ てたわよ、と言ってました。それが今ではチェックマークとかなんかマークが隣についてると正解みたいなんですね。意味が変わったんでしょうか?

A: 24歳です。自分が学生の頃はチェックマークが正解、×が不正解でしたよ。ABC評価さえなくて、チェックマークだけの時もありましたね。(1996年にはもうそうだったよ、というコメントあり)

A: 赤のチェックマークで誤答なんて聞いたことないなあ。チェックマーク(どんな色でも)は正解で、x、○、打ち消し線は誤答(どんな色でも)と習ったよ。


唯一の例外が、オーストリア出身のドイツ語の先生でした。 [...]


赤点。そう思って上見たら「A」と大きく書かれてるじゃないですか。こんなチェックマークだらけなのに? そしたら何のことはなくて私たちアメリカ人学生とドイツ語の先生 (翌年ドイツ交換留学した時の担任も)とではチェックマークの定義が違って、あちらは誤答じゃなく正解の意味で使ってんです。11年生の私にとって、それはまさに衝撃でした。チェックマークに間違った回答以外の意味があろうとは考えたこともありませんでした。

これ書きながら、ちょっと検索してみたらこんな(上記Yahoo!Answer)面白いの見つけました。今は全員同じ意味で使うわけじゃないんですね、同じ国の中なのに。チェックマークにまで国際化の波、でしょうか? (「✓は正解!」というアルゼンチン人とインド人のコメントあり)


南アで教職に就いて最初の頃は、南アも英国と同じシステムなので慣れが必要でした。何故か? 子どもの頃、自分が育った場所では、チェックマーク(アメリカ英語で✓を指す)がついてると誤答という意味だったんです。実はこれかなり抵抗感あるんですよね、だって他のいろんな文脈だと✓ は「良い」という意味にも取れるので。[...]

ここ見るとアメリカの学校も呼び方は「チェックマーク」「エックス」と違うけど、イギリスの「✓は正解、Xは誤答」という制度を導入してるところが多いようですね。最近の変化か、前から変わってきたのか、よくわかりませんが。(アメリカの読者さんへ: 誤答は✓でしたか? Xでしたか? いつ頃の話かも教えてください)  でも、私が若い頃の制度も一部の地域ではまだ健在みたいですよ。(上のリンク先に韓国・西シカゴで✓は不正解、という先生の声がある。日本もだってばよ!)。[...]

英紙ガーディアンの質問箱によると、スウェーデン人も ✓を「誤答」の意味で使うようですね。因みに「✓」は元々ラテン語の「veritas(真実、裏付けのあるもの)」が語源なのだとか。



  1. おはようございます。すごく勉強になりました!


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