am·​per·​sand ˈam-pər-ˌsand How to pronounce ampersand (audio)
: a character typically & standing for the word and

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 That's like the letter S and then an ampersand, and then the letter B. Michael Calore, WIRED, 21 Dec. 2023 Where to Buy The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Novel Online The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is based on the best-selling novel of the same name (without the ampersand) by Suzanne Collins. Rudie Obias, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Dec. 2023 The Craft & Folk Art Museum lost an ampersand but gained a new identity. Deborah Vankin, Los Angeles Times, 21 Sep. 2023 At the same time, Gosling’s Ken wrestles with his relevance, and the matter of being little more than Barbie’s appendage, someone who wouldn’t exist without an ampersand. Brian Lowry, CNN, 19 July 2023 The pockets on all aprons are ripstop and have the classic Hadley & Bennett rubberized ampersand on the chest pocket in each character's signature color. Anthony Karcz, Forbes, 4 May 2023 There’s clearly an ampersand. Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, 26 July 2022 The funny is in the ampersand, right? Danyel Smith, Los Angeles Times, 19 Apr. 2022 The ampersand in the name is distinctive, but it was also widely mocked at the time. Chris Isidore, CNN, 12 Apr. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ampersand.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1795, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ampersand was in 1795


Dictionary Entries Near ampersand

Cite this Entry

“Ampersand.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


am·​per·​sand ˈam-pər-ˌsand How to pronounce ampersand (audio)
: a character & standing for the word and

from older and per se and, spoken form of the phrase & per se and, which followed Z in early lists of letters of the alphabet and meant "(the character) & by itself (stands for) and"

More from Merriam-Webster on ampersand

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