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A bracket is either of two tall fore- or back-facing punctuation marks commonly used to isolate a segment of text or data from its surroundings. They come in four main pairs of shapes, as given in the box to the right, which also gives their names, that vary between British and American English. "Brackets", without further qualification, are in British English the … marks and in American English the … marks.
Other minor bracket shapes exist, such as (for example) slash or diagonal brackets used by linguists to enclose phonemes.
Brackets are typically deployed in symmetric pairs, and an individual bracket may be identified as a 'left' or 'right' bracket or, alternatively, an "opening bracket" or "closing bracket", respectively, depending on the directionality of the context.
In casual writing and in technical fields such as computing or linguistic analysis of grammar, brackets nest, with segments of bracketed material containing embedded within them other further bracketed sub-segments. The number of opening brackets matches the number of closing brackets in such cases.
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