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 Granted, an ampersand would probably be worse, but what happened to the good-old days when marketing execs earned their salaries by coming up with new names, instead of adding symbols to old ones? Angela Watercutter, Wired, "Streaming Services Are Abusing the + Sign and It Must End," 18 Sep. 2020 What looks like an ampersand is actually supposed to be a 4. Dallas News, "A near riot at the Weatherford courthouse all came down to one misunderstood symbol on a protest flyer," 30 July 2020 Draw an ampersand on your dog's tee to be the accent. NBC News, "Last minute Halloween costumes ideas for adults, kids and pets," 24 Oct. 2019 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

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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Time Traveler for ampersand

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The first known use of ampersand was in 1795

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Cite this Entry

“Ampersand.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on ampersand

Nglish: Translation of ampersand for Spanish Speakers

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