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Please explain all lines.

I may seem small and useless
Several letters but less than one
In fact I am not here, not at all
But I am near; up above.

Good James made me famous
So when he humbles himself I appear.
I often carry three crosses
For without them I am a contorted falsehood.

Remove one stroke and I become what I am.

What am I?

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3 Answers 3

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I think you are

the dot above a lowercase I or J.

I may seem small and useless

the point above the letter I is indeed small, and you'd recognise the letter even without the dot

Several letters but less than one

lowercase J also has this part of a letter in it

In fact I am not here, not at all
But I am near; up above.

not a single lowercase I or J in the riddle itself, a couple in the intro text though.

Good James made me famous

In Jesus's "sermon on the mount", the King James Bible translation famously uses the tiny dot to make a point: "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled"

So when he humbles himself I appear.

This might also refer to "James" (or "Jesus") beginning with the uppercase letter J, which would have a dot if brought to lowercase.

I often carry three crosses
For without them I am a contorted falsehood.

The dot is often called a "tittle", which has three lowercase t's (crosses). If those are removed, what remains is "ile", an anagram of "lie"

Remove one stroke and I become what I am.

in cursive handwriting, removing a stroke from "tittle" gives you "little".

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  • $\begingroup$ You got "jot"! i'd like to add that lowercase "i" is the least non-zero non-infinitesimal constant. It doesn't even exist. $\endgroup$
    – humn
    Commented Apr 14, 2022 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ Should point out rot13(gur fvtavsvpnapr bs gur jbeq "cbvagyrff" va gur gvgyr. (Nyfb n zvffrq bccbeghavgl gb znxr gur gvggyr/gvgyr pbzcnevfba urer.)) $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 16:41
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    $\begingroup$ This is amazing. For the last clue, I had interpreted it differently - if you remove one stroke (the lower case i, or j), then it becomes what it is - just a dot. $\endgroup$
    – Mtl Dev
    Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 4:47
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I suspect you are:

the number zero.

Pointless riddle:

zero has no points (it's round)

I may seem small and useless

zero is as small as it gets until you go negative.

Several letters but less than one

zero has four letters, but 0<1

In fact I am not here, not at all

there are no zeros in this riddle.

But I am near; up above.

there are lots of the letter "o"s above in this riddle, which is very near to a zero.

Good James made me famous, So when he humbles himself I appear.

I don't quite have this one, but Zero is a book by James Toogood. Or, it may be a reference to James the Greater.

I often carry three crosses

a peace sign is a zero (or circle) with three slashes across it. Also, a common Christian symbol is three crosses in a circle.

For without them I am a contorted falsehood.

a cricle with two slashes across it is a common symbol for "no" or "wrong" or "error" or any number of negative/false responses.

Remove one stroke and I become what I am.

remove one of the two slahses and you get a slahsed zero which is just another way of writing a zero.

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    $\begingroup$ Yep I intentionally made 0 work for many but not all lines as a false trail, alas! $\endgroup$
    – Amoz
    Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ You had me at “pointless”. $\endgroup$
    – will
    Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 15:56
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You are a

tittle (the dot over the i or j for one definition)

I may seem small and useless

Certainly small and sometimes carelessly left off, so is it useless?

Several letters but less than one

Used for i, j (several letters) but less than a whole letter

In fact I am not here, not at all

You are not. All of your "i"s are capitalized

But I am near; up above.

In the title above, you are in the i in pointless and riddle.

Good James made me famous So when he humbles himself I appear.

Used in the King James Bible at Matthew 5:18: "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled"

I often carry three crosses

The word tittle has 3 t's or crosses

For without them I am a contorted falsehood

a lie (anagram of letters in tittle without t's)

Remove one stroke and I become what I am.

tittle become little, which it is

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