February 04, 2019
ampersand (noun)
\AM-per-sand\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: a character & standing for the word "and"
How do you use it?
Because her history teacher talked so fast, Lauren used lots of symbols, such as the ampersand, when she took notes in that class.
Are you a word wiz?

Figuring out where the word "ampersand" came from is as easy as A-B-C. We'll give you a hint: it was a name. Who or what do you think "ampersand" originally named?

The answer that's got it right to the letter is B. In the Middle Ages, students spelled words by syllables. When a single letter formed a whole word (like the word "I") or a complete syllable (like the first "i" in "iris"), it was spelled "I per se, I," which in Latin means "I by itself." Back then, the symbol "&" functioned as a letter of the alphabet, coming after "Z." Treated like other single letters, it was spelled out loud as "and per se, and," meaning "and by itself." Over time, that longer phrase was shortened and modified to "ampersand."
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