I was with my niece last week and she asked, why is the ampersand written that way like NO 8. That got me into research and in case you don’t know,below is the origin of the sign.


The symbol & is used to mean “AND”, it was first seen in the pompeian graffiti from the first century AD.In a twist on the traditional story, the logogram ‘&’ came way before the word it now represents, ‘ampersand’. It was once the 27th letter of the alphabet, derived from the Roman word for and: ‘et’.

When ancient Roman scribes were scribbling away in Roman Cursive around the 1st century AD, they had a tendency to connect to two letters into a ligature. The symbol became so popular that it was taught as the 27th letter of the alphabet.

This made reciting  aloud the alphabet more complicated “X,Y,Z and AND”. So, student began using the phrase “and per sa and” to indicate the last letter.and over time that morphed into the word we use today: ampersand.

Ampersand was added to the dictionary in 1837.


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Sources: The New Yorker, etymonline.com