The semicolon (;) is a punctuation mark with several uses. The first printed semicolon was the work of the Italian printer Aldus Manutius, the Elder in 1494. Manutius established the practice of using the semicolon to separate words of opposed meaning and to allow a rapid change in direction in connecting interdependent statements. Ben Jonson was the first notable English writer to use the semicolon systematically. The modern uses of the semicolon relate either to the listing of items or to the linking of related clauses. In Unicode it is encoded at U+003B ; semicolon (HTML:
According to Lynne Truss, a British writer on grammar, many non-writers avoid the colon and semicolon for various reasons: "They are old-fashioned", "They are middle-class", "They are optional", "They are mysteriously connected to pausing", "They are dangerously addictive (vide Virginia Woolf)", and "The difference between them is too negligible to be grasped by the brain of man".