Ampersand Logogram Cover

The Logogram Ampersand “&”

You often use this logogram “&” (ampersand) while writing text in English or you have seen it used in primarily business companies like Johnson & Johnson, Barnes & Nobles, Tiffany & Co etc.  But have you ever wondered about its origin? How it came into existence in the English language?

What is Ampersand “&” and how it came into existence

We use “&” which represents the word “and” (a conjunction). This logogram “&” is called ampersand. In the 1st century A.D., the letters E and T occasionally were written together to form a ligature (a character that visually combines multiple letters, such as æ, œ, ß). Et is defined as “and” in Latin.

For example, we use et al. which means and others. Later on, during the development of Latin, the use of ligatures reduced but the et-ligature continued to be used and slowly became more stylish and different than its original look. Now it looks like this &. As you can see below, this is how it got the modern look.

Transformation of Ampersand
Transformation of Ampersand 

Use of Ampersand in Fonts

In most of the fonts, you will come to see the ampersand in its modern look but there are some modern fonts like Trebuchet MS and Abel which employ “&” characters that reveal its origin.

& in the modern font Trebuchet

& in the modern font Trebuchet
& in the modern font Trebuchet

& in the modern font Abel

& in the modern font Abel
& in the modern font Abel

 

“&” as 27th character of alphabets

In the 18th century, “&” was considered be the 27th letter of the English alphabet in textbooks. This is a page from an 1863 textbook displaying the alphabet.

A page from an 1863 textbook
A page from an 1863 textbook

 

Share Now

About the Author

Sudhanshu Tripathi

Sudhanshu Tripathi

Added Ampersand "&" - Its Origin, Ancient & Modern Usage and Meaning on September 3, 2017
Sudhanshu Tripathi is an Assistant Meteorologist in Indian Meteorological Department. He has completed Masters in English Literature from Kanpur University.
Last updated by Administrator on February 12, 2019

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.