Definition of ampersand
: a character typically & standing for the word and
ampersand was our Word of the Day on 09/07/2015. Hear the podcast!
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.
Origin and Etymology of ampersand
alteration of and (&) per se and, literally, (the character) & by itself (is the word) and
First Known Use: 1795
AMPERSAND Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of ampersand for English Language Learners
: a character & that is used for the word and
AMPERSAND Defined for Kids
Definition of ampersand for Students
: a character & standing for the word and
Seen and Heard
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