Did You Know? Ampersand

Did you know the ampersand was once part of the English alphabet?

In the early to mid 1800’s, schools would include “&” as the 27th letter of the alphabet. Examples can be seen in M. B. Moore’s 1863 book, The Dixie Primer, for the Little Folks.

The original name of the word, however, was “and” – not “ampersand.” Students would recite the alphabet and finish with “X, Y, Z, and per se and.” The meaning of “per se” is “by itself” in Latin.  Eventually, “and per se and” was shortened to ampersand.

However, “&” existed long before ampersand, about 1,500 years before. Romans would record Latin in cursive. When they wrote “et,” they would often combine the letters, ultimately leading to the eventual formation of &. If you ever see &c, instead of etc. used, you will have a better understanding why and its origin.

The more you know…

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by Deanna Oxner

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