# Brackets vs. Braces — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Published on October 6, 2023
Brackets vs. Braces: Brackets are punctuation marks used within text [ ], while braces are curly punctuation marks used in sets or to group items { }. Both help organize and clarify content.

## Key Differences

Brackets and braces are both punctuation marks with distinct shapes and purposes. While brackets are rectangular and usually enclose additional information or clarification within text, braces are curly and often group multiple items or sets together.
In American English, the term "brackets" commonly refers to square brackets [ ]. Braces, on the other hand, resemble curly punctuation marks { } and are also termed curly brackets in some contexts.
Both brackets and braces are used in mathematics, but they have different roles. Brackets might indicate intervals or lists, while braces often signify sets or the grouping of equations.
In the realm of programming, the use of brackets and braces varies by language. For instance, in many languages, braces define blocks of code, while brackets might be used to denote array indices or list comprehensions.
Brackets are frequently used in literature or journalism to enclose words added by someone other than the original author. Braces, however, are less common in general prose, often reserved for more technical or mathematical contexts.

## Comparison Chart

Rectangular [ ]
Curly { }

### Common Use

Group multiple items or sets

### Terminology in Am. English

Square brackets
Curly brackets or just braces

### Role in Mathematics

Indicate intervals or lists
Signify sets or grouping of equations

### Usage in Programming

Denote array indices or list comprehensions
Define blocks of code in many languages

## Compare with Definitions

#### Brackets

Rectangular punctuation marks used to enclose information.
He went to the store [the one downtown].

#### Braces

Pairs of like objects or items.
A pair of birds can be termed a brace of birds.

#### Brackets

Employed in some programming languages for array indices.
The value is stored in array[index].

#### Braces

Curly punctuation marks used to group items or sets.
The set of natural numbers is {1, 2, 3, ...}.

#### Brackets

She said, I am going [to the store] now.

#### Braces

Utilized in programming to define blocks of code.
In JavaScript, function blocks are defined using { }.

#### Brackets

A simple rigid structure in the shape of an L, one arm of which is fixed to a vertical surface, the other projecting horizontally to support a shelf or other weight.

#### Braces

Orthodontic devices to align or straighten teeth.
She wore braces for two years to fix her overbite.

#### Brackets

A small shelf or shelves supported by such structures.

#### Braces

Supports or fasteners in construction or architecture.
The shelf is held up by two metal braces.

#### Brackets

(Architecture) A decorative or weight-bearing structural unit, two sides of which form a right angle with one arm flush against a wall and the other flush beneath a projecting surface, such as eaves or a bay window.

#### Braces

A device that holds or fastens two or more parts together or in place; a clamp.

#### Brackets

A wall-anchored fixture for gas or electricity.

#### Braces

A device, such as a supporting beam in a building or a connecting wire or rope, that steadies or holds something else erect.

#### Brackets

A square bracket.

#### Braces

Braces Chiefly British Suspenders.

#### Brackets

An angle bracket.

#### Braces

An orthopedic appliance used to support, align, or hold a bodily part in the correct position.

#### Brackets

(Mathematics) See brace.

#### Braces

Often braces A dental appliance constructed of bands and wires that is fixed to the teeth to correct irregular alignment.

#### Brackets

Chiefly British One of a pair of parentheses.

#### Braces

An extremely stiff, erect posture.

#### Brackets

A classification or grouping, especially within a sequence of numbers or grades, as a category of incomes sharing the same tax rate.

#### Braces

A cause or source of renewed physical or spiritual vigor.

#### Brackets

A treelike diagram showing the matchups between competitors in different rounds of a tournament.

#### Braces

A protective pad strapped to the bow arm of an archer.

#### Brackets

The distance between two impacting shells, the first aimed beyond a target and the second aimed short of it, used to determine the range for artillery fire.

#### Braces

(Nautical)A rope by which a yard is swung and secured on a square-rigged ship.

#### Brackets

The shells fired in such a manner.

#### Braces

A cranklike handle with an adjustable aperture at one end for securing and turning a bit.

#### Brackets

To furnish or support with a bracket or brackets.

#### Braces

(Music)A leather loop that slides to change the tension on the cord of a drum.

#### Brackets

To place within or as if within brackets.

#### Braces

A vertical line, usually accompanied by the symbol {, connecting two or more staffs.

#### Brackets

To classify or group together.

#### Braces

A set of staffs connected in this way.

#### Brackets

To include or exclude by establishing specific boundaries.

#### Braces

A symbol, { or }, enclosing two or more lines of text or listed items to show that they are considered as a unit.

#### Brackets

To fire beyond and short of (a target) in order to determine artillery range.

#### Braces

(Mathematics)Either of a pair of symbols, { }, used to indicate aggregation or to clarify the grouping of quantities when parentheses and square brackets have already been used. Also called bracket.

#### Brackets

Plural of bracket

#### Braces

Pl. brace A pair of like things
Three brace of partridges.

#### Brackets

Indicators for intervals in mathematics.
The interval [2, 5] includes all numbers between 2 and 5.

#### Braces

To furnish with a brace.

#### Brackets

Marks used in citations to indicate direct references.
According to Smith [15], the results were conclusive.

#### Braces

To support or hold steady with or as if with a brace; reinforce.

#### Braces

To prepare or position so as to be ready for impact or danger
Union members braced themselves for a confrontation with management.

#### Braces

To confront with questions or requests.

#### Braces

To increase the tension of.

#### Braces

To invigorate; stimulate
"The freshness of the September morning inspired and braced him" (Thomas Hardy).

#### Braces

(Nautical)To turn (the yards of a ship) by the braces.

Plural of brace

#### Braces

(orthodontics) A device worn on the teeth to straighten them.
Susy has to go to the dentist to see if she needs braces.

#### Braces

(dated) Handcuffs.
We put that villain in braces.

#### Braces

(British) A pair of straps crossing one's shoulders and extending down to one's trousers, where a clip or button arrangement allows them to affix to the trousers, ensuring that they will not fall off (US: suspenders).

#### Braces

An appliance that corrects dental irregularities

## Common Curiosities

#### Can braces refer to orthodontic devices?

Yes, braces are devices used to align or straighten teeth.

#### Are brackets and braces the same thing?

No, brackets are rectangular [ ] and braces are curly { }.

#### What is the primary role of braces in programming?

Braces, in many languages, define blocks of code.

#### Are braces used often in general writing?

Braces are less common in prose and more frequent in technical or mathematical contexts.

#### Can brackets be used to enclose a word added by an editor?

Yes, brackets often indicate words added by someone other than the original author.

#### Is "[ ]" the universal representation of brackets?

In American English, yes. But in British English, "brackets" can refer to what Americans call "parentheses."

#### Are braces ever called "curly brackets"?

Yes, in some contexts, braces are termed curly brackets.

#### What's the difference between braces and parentheses?

Braces group items or sets { }, while parentheses enclose additional information or clarification ( ).

#### Are there other types of brackets besides square brackets?

Yes, there are also angle brackets <> and curly brackets or braces {}.

#### How are brackets used in mathematical intervals?

They can represent inclusive intervals, like [2, 5], which includes both 2 and 5.

#### Do all programming languages use braces in the same way?

No, the use of braces varies by programming language.

#### What does a "brace of birds" mean?

It means a pair of birds.

#### In construction, what role do braces play?

Braces act as supports or fasteners, often adding stability.

#### Can braces be used in literature?

It's rare, but braces can be used to indicate a list of equal choices or options.

#### Can brackets indicate direct references in citations?

Yes, especially in certain citation styles where a number within brackets references a source.