The tilde (~) is a punctuation mark that has been used for centuries in a variety of languages. It originated as a scribal abbreviation in Latin, where it was used to represent the word "in" (e.g., "3~4" meant "3 in 4"). Over time, it has taken on a number of different meanings and uses in various languages and contexts.
In modern English, the tilde is most commonly used as a diacritic mark to indicate a nasal vowel sound (e.g., ã in São Paulo) or to indicate a tone change in certain languages (e.g., ā in Mandarin Chinese). It is also used in mathematics to indicate a "similar to" or "approximately equal to" relationship (e.g., a ≈ b)
In computing, the tilde is used as a special character with a variety of meanings and uses, such as to represent a home directory in Unix-like operating systems or to indicate a "swung dash" in certain programming languages. It is also frequently used in internet slang and emoji to indicate a sense of "wavy" or "vibing" (e.g., ~wink~).