This is kind of a spin off from an older question I asked.

Here's the screenshot from that question: enter image description here

  • In the bottom left is URxvt, and you can see a lighting bolt-like icon at the beginning of the prompt, that's "\ue00a";
  • in the bottom right is xfce-terminal from Xfce, and you can see that it renders the very same "\ue00a" Unicode point in a very different way!

I was under the impression that when I read something like "\ue00a", "\u263b", "\u1d43d" and so on, I'm most likely looking at the identity of a symbol, as defined by Unicode.

However, how strange would the definition need to for it to allow 2 terminal emulators to show it so differently?

Incidentally, I don't know how much of this is due to the terminals and how much to the fonts.

I am asking this question (like the other I linked) in order to get a better understanding of the whole matter.

  • 1
    "I read something like "\ue00a", "\u263b", "\u1d43d" and so on, I'm most likely looking at the identity of symbol, as defined by Unicode", sure, but the font determines what that synbol looks like. The font can show pretty much anything, see, e.g., Wingdings, or less famously the Powerline fonts
    – muru
    May 15 at 15:42
  • 1
  • It would be great if the OP could add a codeblock with the problematic echo lines. That way readers can cut-and-paste into their own terminals. Also, am I to understand that the central question is about a (terminal-specific) custom prompt? Thx. May 16 at 9:30

1 Answer 1


U+E000 to U+F8FF is a private-use area. It's reserved to allow systems to store and display characters that are not present in Unicode. So you can't expect it to have a consistent appearance (or indeed to appear as anything other than a blank space or replacement character).

If you want a lighting-like character in Unicode, you can try drawing it on Shapecatcher (but it doesn't know all of Unicode, especially not Emoji), or search through Unicode character names. I can't find a lightning bolt character exactly like the one in your screenshot, but there's U+26A1 HIGH VOLTAGE SIGN (⚡) and U+1F5F2 LIGHTNING MOOD (🗲) which are visually close. There are meteorological symbols U+2607 LIGHTNING (☇), U+2608 THUNDERSTORM (☈) and U+26C8 THUNDER CLOUD AND RAIN (⛈) which are semantically related but visually very different.

  • 4
    See also unicode --max 0 --regex lightning from the unicode Debian package. May 15 at 16:07
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    – terdon
    May 18 at 10:00

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