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How the Bracket Came to Be

Aug 17, 2007
The word bracket is not commonly used in everyday language. One may go through a full life and perhaps never even get to use the word bracket. This may lead one to the conclusion that the word bracket is not quite that useful. On the contrary, it's more common than one realizes and perhaps more useful than first recognized.

Volt in

Among several synonyms of the word bracket is a very common word-group. There are groups everywhere, at any given point in time and space. This is a direct result of people's predisposition to label and organize. When a person or things are put in a group, it is therefore put in a bracket.

Despite the word bracket and group being synonyms though, it is not common to use the word bracket to describe a peer group for instance. It sounds funny to say, "This is my peer bracket".

Therefore, the use of the word bracket must be utilized only with certain groups.

Reproduce and use

We learn multiplication in grade school and incidentally, this may very well be one's first concrete encounter with the concept of a bracket.

On the blackboard, the teacher will illustrate objects inside a bracket to visually explain the principle of multiplication. In this case, we see objects grouped into brackets. The teacher will separate the same apples into different sub groups and enclose them in a bracket to keep the same apples apart.

Souk for the soul

Outside of the classroom illustrations, a bracket is also used to group things into categories. It is used for instance in Marketing to categorize a target market or in plain words, a group of people who should buy a particular brand.

This is the way for brands to know better than to sell disposable diapers to a teenager whose sole pre-occupation are boys and the latest fashion.

The super sorter

A bracket is then used to divide and group a market to make marketing efforts easier and more focused. So that the group that is most likely to be the buyers are further sorted into brackets of age, gender, socio-economic class, and so forth.

A bracket is very valuable to marketing as this decides the way something is sold and bought. Imagine a world without brackets-everything would be so random and arbitrary.

As first established, it is human nature to label and organize, so much so that it tends to become an obsession. Take beer for instance. There are several types of beer under one umbrella brand. There's the light beer for people who don't like the heavy feeling of booze but want the same buzz. Then there's the beer with the stronger alcoholic content for the hard core drinkers. There's the diet beer to follow the latest low carbohydrate diet fad. Then there's the plain regular kind for the plain old regular type folks.

All those types of beer to choose from, thanks to the the bracket.

Let there be light

According to the Bible, in the beginning there was nothing. Then from nothing, came light and we could see everything and then came the need to identify and segregate.

Without labels and categories, all things far and wide would just be the same, with no identifying differences. There will be no need for several types of beer that in the end will just make you drunk no matter what type it is. No need to first divide the same apple illustrations on the board only to multiply them together later.

Thus, the bracket was invented.
About the Author
James Monahan is the owner and senior editor of
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