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

Definition of ampersand

: a character typically & standing for the word and

Keep scrolling for more

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 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 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ampersand

Time Traveler for ampersand

Time Traveler

The first known use of ampersand was in 1795

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about ampersand

Statistics for ampersand

Cite this Entry

“Ampersand.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ampersand


How to pronounce ampersand (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on ampersand

What made you want to look up ampersand? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!