Recently, I noticed a new store in Moscow called Ampersand. According to their website, it’s an “Oil & Vinegar Tap House.” They offer infused oils and vinegar from around the world on tap, along with other specialty grocery items. But the name seems to stump some passersby. I overheard two people trying to pronounce it and wondering aloud what it could mean.
Ampersand is a fancy word for a common symbol … the “and” sign.
And, seems like it’s been everywhere lately … it popped up on Dictionary.com the other day when I was checking the spelling of some obscure word under a heading titled “What Character Was Removed from the Alphabet?”. Dictionary.com goes on to tell us that the symbol “&” was first used by Roman scribes in the 1st century, when they linked the two letters of “and” in Latin, “et,” in a kind of early shorthand. And the symbol was actually part of the alphabet in early English, coming after the Z at the end of the alphabet (X, Y, Z, &). But when reciting the alphabet, it was confusing to have the word “and” at the end … and … what?
So students reciting the alphabet used the words “per se” (by itself) to clarify: “X, Y, Z, and per se &.”
and-per-se-and … ampersand!
That is the best piece of trivia I have ever learned!!! Oh yes ~ I am wearing my smarty-pants to work today.
That reminds me of the secretarial service I owned back in the 80s. I named it “Et Cetera Secretarial Services”.
I’ll bet many folks don’t know to call that more than the “and” sign.
And I’m sure the service at Et Cetera was Ex Celente.
I never knew the history of this symbol but have used it for years. I love learning English language trivia.
Iceland is beautiful and today we saw where the tectonic plated between the North American and Eurasia plates have separated and you can walk the bridge between the two continents. Besides the driving rain and sleet, we saw geothermal mud pots and ended up for a swim in the big Blue Lagoon. Geothermal heat provides energy for homes and business here and making them energy independent.
So you went swimming in Iceland?
How interesting! Love to learn. Also, I’m so grateful to have a dictionary that is about 12 inches thick and quite old. My husband’s parents gave it to us years ago. It’s a treasure. It has words in it that the new ones certainly don’t. When reading and need to know a definition, that is the one I go to.