7 Facts You Didn't Know About the Ampersand
(Last Updated On: September 1, 2020)


Ampersand. It’s a long word for something commonly used to symbolize a much shorter word. You probably already know that word is “and.” However, did you know that an ampersand is a visual representation of the phrase “and, per se and?” Hence the word ampersand.

Here are 7 more facts you didn’t know about the ampersand.

1. The Ampersand Is Over 2,000 Years Old

The creation of the ampersand dates back to 63 B.C. This means the ampersand is over 2,000 years old! It was created as a combination of two letters, “e” and “t” or “et.” In Latin, the word “et” means and.

2. A Former Slave Created the Ampersand

Some people credit Marcus Tullius Tiro for creating the ampersand. He was a slave and secretary to a Roman lawyer, writer, and orator named Cicero. Tiro eventually became a freedman. He also receives credit for developing the first Latin shorthand system, which lasted over 1,000 years.

3. The Ampersand Is One of the Most Common Special Characters Used in Passwords

When you create a password, many websites and programs recommend including at least one special character. Some of the most common special characters used in passwords include an exclamation point, asterisk, dollar sign, and question mark. The ampersand is also commonly used. It ranked ninth for most frequently used special character in a password.

4. Designers Used the Ampersand to Raise Money for Earthquake Victims

In 1999, Font Aid was founded as a way to raise funds for disaster relief victims. During a Font Aid event, designers come together to create a glyph and then sell it. In 2010, during Font Aid IV, designers created new fonts for the ampersand. The ampersand represented the idea of people coming together to help one another. Nearly 400 designers contributed artwork for the project. The proceeds were donated to Doctors Without Borders to help victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

5. Many Companies Use the Ampersand In Their Name

Many companies and brands use the ampersand in their names. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • Barnes & Noble or B&N
  • Ben & Jerry’s
  • A&E
  • AT&T
  • H&R Block
  • A&W Root Beer
  • M&Ms
  • Smith & Wesson
  • Johnson & Johnson

Can you think of a company or brand that uses the ampersand?

6. The Ampersand Was Once a Letter of the Alphabet

Did you know that the letter “z” has not always been the last letter of the English alphabet? During the 1800s, the ampersand became the last letter. It’s not certain when we dropped it from the alphabet.

7. The Ampersand Is a Logogram

While people use the ampersand in lieu of the word “and” (which is a conjunction), the ampersand is actually a logogram. A logogram is a character that represents a word or phrase commonly used in shorthand. Some examples of phrases that typically use this logogram include rock & roll, fish & chips, R&R (rest & relaxation), and peanut butter & jelly. It is also commonly used in creative works, such as Marley & Me, Batman & Robin, and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

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