Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Origin of... Ampersand

This symbol is stylized et, Latin for "and".

Although it was invented by the Roman scribe Marcus Tullius Tiro in the first century B.C., it didn’t get its strange name until centuries later.

In the early 1800s, schoolchildren learned this symbol as the 27th letter of the alphabet: X, Y, Z, &.

But the symbol had no name. So, they ended their ABCs with "and, per se, and" meaning "&, which means ‘and’".

This phrase was slurred into one garbled word that eventually caught on with everyone: ampersand.

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