am·​per·​sand | \ ˈam-pər-ˌsand How to pronounce ampersand (audio) \

Definition of ampersand

: a character typically & standing for the word and

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Did You Know?

Despite appearances, the history of ampersand owes nothing to amp or sand. The familiar character & derives from a symbol that was used in place of the Latin word et, which also means "and." In the late Middle Ages, single letters used as words-words like I-were, when spelled, incorporated into a phrase that clarified that they were in fact individual words. For I the phrase was I per se, I, which in Latin means I by itself (is the word) I. In early lists of the alphabet, Z was followed by the symbol &, which was rendered & per se, and, meaning "& by itself (is the word) and." Over the years, that phrase (which when spoken aloud was pronounced "and per se and") was shortened by English speakers to ampersand.

Examples of ampersand in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Asos even has some of the rainbow ampersand tees from last year’s collection still in stock. Hilary George-parkin, Vox, "Rainbow Listerine and bottles of Bud Light: what happens to the merch when Pride is over," 2 July 2019 Some people would say the Electoral College or anyone named Kyle or passwords of no more than 16 characters containing a number, an ampersand and at least one capital letter. Joe Queenan, WSJ, "My Short List of Things That Need to Be ‘De-Invented’," 9 Nov. 2018 Popular among scrollers was an ampersand-only rendering of the Old Man of the Mountain, the distinctive rock formation in northern New Hampshire. Virginia Heffernan, WIRED, "Scrolling, Rickrolling, and Trolling," 12 Mar. 2018 Behind the bar shines an aqua-colored version of an ampersand — the restaurant derived its name and logo from that word. Tim Smith,, "Interesting menu, enjoyable view at Ampersea," 22 Mar. 2018 Patron Saint Virgil Abloh—creative director, human ampersand, vibe curator, air-quote innovator. Benjy Hansen-bundy, GQ, "How To Be Better Than Everyone Else In 2018," 7 Feb. 2018 At a time when law firms are shortening their names to just one partner, dropping their ampersands or using only initials, one Houston firm has gone the opposite direction. L.m. Sixel, Houston Chronicle, "Houston law firm adds named partner," 9 Jan. 2018 Reynolds also wore a GLAAD ampersand pin throughout the night’s festivities. Patrick Crowley, Billboard, "Imagine Dragons' Dan Reynolds Shows Support For LGBTQ Youth At 2017 AMAs," 20 Nov. 2017 Every item in the collection includes GLAAD's ampersand logo as a symbol of unity, a value the line lives up to by eliminating restrictive gender labels. Halie Lesavage, Glamour, "ASOS and GLAAD Collaborate on a Gender-Neutral Capsule Collection," 4 Nov. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ampersand.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ampersand

1795, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ampersand

alteration of and (&) per se and, literally, (the character) & by itself (is the word) and

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Statistics for ampersand

Last Updated

15 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for ampersand

The first known use of ampersand was in 1795

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More Definitions for ampersand



English Language Learners Definition of ampersand

: a character {amp} that is used for the word and


am·​per·​sand | \ ˈam-pər-ˌsand How to pronounce ampersand (audio) \

Kids Definition of ampersand

: a character & standing for the word and

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More from Merriam-Webster on ampersand

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ampersand

Spanish Central: Translation of ampersand

Nglish: Translation of ampersand for Spanish Speakers

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