Tick Symbol Origin
A tick (known as a check mark or check in North American English) is a mark (✓, ✔, etc.) used to indicate the concept “yes”, for example “yes; this has been verified”, “yes; that is the correct answer”, “yes; this has been completed”, or “yes; this [item or option] applies to me”. The x mark is also sometimes used for this purpose (most notably on election ballot papers), but otherwise usually indicates “no”, incorrectness, or failure.
As a verb, to tick (off) or to check (off) means to add such a mark. It is quite common, especially on printed forms, printed documents, and computers (see check box), for there to be squares in which to place ticks.
The tick mark is a predominant affirmative symbol of convenience in the English-speaking world because of its instant and facile composition. In other countries, however, the tick mark is more complicated. In some countries (e.g., Finland, Norway, Sweden, Puerto Rico, and Japan), the tick can be used as an error mark and indicates “no” rather than “yes”. For example, it is common in Swedish schools for a ✓ to indicate that an answer is incorrect (while ‘R’, from the Swedish rätt i.e. “correct”, is used to indicate that an answer is correct). This often causes confusion as to whether something that has been ticked is correct or incorrect, especially when reading English media. In Finnish, ✓ stands for väärin i.e. “wrong”. (The opposite, “right”, is marked with , a slanted vertical line emphasized with two dots).
In Japan, an “O Mark” (in the appearance of a circle, Unicode symbol “◯”), also known as “丸印” marujirushi, is used instead of a tick to mean “yes”; this symbol is also used in Taiwan, Korea and China. A tick placed in brackets can mean a previously used or acceptable fact or definition is being looked into, usually for the purpose of expanding academic research.
Source: Wikipedia. (2012). Tick (check mark). Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tick_(check_mark). Last accessed 27th February 2013.