A question of character

& <----- ampersand
@ <----- ?

Just curious.


When I grow up, I want to be the Minister of Silly Walks.

Isn’t it just the “at sign”?

What’s really odd is the way the ampersand mutates with just a slight change in font style. Look at it in print. (I refer the jury to page 283 of exibit A: More of The Straight Dope, specifically the question about Proctor & Gamble) In the first sentence, it looks sort of like an upper case G that has suffered some ill effects from the Chernobyl disaster.

A little further down, in Cecil’s reply, it looks perfectly “normal”. Stranger still, I am in the habbit of making my ampersands like a backwards “3” with a dollar sign style line through the middle like a north & south pole.

Which and is what and from when did they come about?

“Which and is what and from when did they come about?”

opus, you little Zen devil, may I use that?

Dr. Watson
“No one’s mouth is big enough to utter the whole thing.”

As noted, @ = “at”. Sometimes “business at” or “commercial at,” but always the “at” sign.

Ampersand started as the Latin et (and) that was joined into a single character with the “E” capitalized: think of Et, then join the cross-piece of the “t” to the middle horizontal stroke of the “E” and extend the lower horizontal stroke of the “E” to touch the “t”. Once that character had been formed, various permutations were tried, resulting in the & that we are used to. The “sloppy figure 8” that appears in some fonts still owes its origins to the original “Et” symbol.
The word ampersand is a slurring of “And per se and” (i.e., “and” as itself, “and”).


Because ice cream has no bones.

“His eyes are as green as a fresh-pickled toad,
His hair is as dark as a blackboard,
I wish he was mine, he’s really divine,
The hero who conquered the Dark Lord.”

@ <----- = 064 ASCII or 040 Hexadecimal

Actually, I’ve always heard it called the “Commercial at” symbol, as mentioned before; which seems to make sense, if you look at it as the lower case ‘a’ nested within the upper case ‘C’.

“If ignorance is bliss, you must be orgasmic.”
“Well, there was that thing with the Cheese-Wiz…but I’m feeling much better now!” – John Astin, Night Court

Tom, thanks for that explanation: very interesting! I never knew, or even questioned the reasoning behind the ampersand. Seems like I need to get my butt into GD and GQ more often :smiley:

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Some useless trivia for you:

The @ symbol is called an Aliquot.


Some people say that cats are sneaky, evil, and cruel. True, and they have many other fine qualities as well.

That’s what I was looking for, Vestal Blue.


When I grow up, I want to be the Minister of Silly Walks.

Vestal Blue, can you provide a citation for aliquot = @?

I’m not challenging your accuracy, but I have seen some really wild debates on other newsgroups (and a couple here) where no one came up with a definitive name. EnignaOne’s Commercial at is the closest I’ve seen to an accepted term other than simply at.

The association of aliquot (a part or an even divisor) with @ makes sense. However, I have never seen the word linked to the symbol, before.