feature key

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feature key /n./ The Macintosh key with the cloverleaf graphic on its keytop; sometimes referred to as `flower', `pretzel', `clover', `propeller', `beanie' (an apparent reference to the major feature of a propeller beanie), splat, or the `command key'. The Mac's equivalent of an alt key. The proliferation of terms for this creature may illustrate one subtle peril of iconic interfaces.

Many people have been mystified by the cloverleaf-like symbol that appears on the feature key. Its oldest name is `cross of St. Hannes', but it occurs in pre-Christian Viking art as a decorative motif. Throughout Scandinavia today the road agencies use it to mark sites of historical interest. Apple picked up the symbol from an early Mac developer who happened to be Swedish. Apple documentation gives the translation "interesting feature"!

There is some dispute as to the proper (Swedish) name of this symbol. It technically stands for the word `sev"ardhet' (interesting feature); many of these are old churches. Some Swedes report as an idiom for it the word `kyrka', cognate to English `church' and Scots-dialect `kirk' but pronounced /shir'k*/ in modern Swedish. Others say this is nonsense. Another idiom reported for the sign is `runsten' /roon'stn/, derived from the fact that many of the interesting features are Viking rune-stones.


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