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An ampersand (or epershand) "&" is a logogram representing the conjunction word "and".

The symbol is a ligature of the letters in et, Latin for "and".



The word ampersand is a conflation of the phrase "and per se and", meaning "and [the symbol which] by itself [is] and".[1] The Scots and Scottish English name for & is epershand, derived from "et per se and", with the same meaning.

Traditionally, in English-speaking schools when reciting the alphabet, any letter that could also be used as a word in itself ("A," "I," and, at one point, "O") was preceded by the Latin expression "per se" (Latin for "by itself"). Also, it was common practice to add at the end of the alphabet the "&" sign, pronounced "and". Thus, the recitation of the alphabet would end in: "X, Y, Z and per se and." This last phrase was routinely slurred to "ampersand" and the term crept into common English usage by around 1837.[2]

Through folk etymology, it has been claimed that André-Marie Ampère used the symbol in his widely read publications, and that people began calling the new shape "Ampere's and". [3]


The ampersand can be traced back to the 1st century A.D. and the Old Roman cursive, in which the letters E and T occasionally were written together to form a ligature (figure 1). In the later and more flowing New Roman Cursive, ligatures of all kinds were extremely common; figure 2 and 3 from the middle of 4th century are both examples of how the et-ligature could look in this script. However, during the following development of the Latin script that led up to the Carolingian minuscule (9th century), while the use of ligatures in general diminished, the et-ligature continued to be used and gradually became more stylized and less revealing of its origin (figures 4–6).[4]

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