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I’m sorry if this was asked a million times before, but neither Google nor the ELU site has helped me out.

I’m wondering:

  • What’s the reason behind introducing this character?
  • What’s the difference between it and and?
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closed as general reference by Alenanno, Kit Z. Fox, nohat Aug 19 '11 at 20:33

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

This post may be of interest to you. – Kit Z. Fox Aug 19 '11 at 19:08
I think the "why" point of the question is its redeeming point. And it seems to be answered pretty well in that link. – Daniel Aug 19 '11 at 19:10
You may also like this series on the history of the ampersand tips invisible hat to @JSB – aedia λ Aug 19 '11 at 19:32
wow, this is a really nice community, you turned a question that shouldn't be posted into a great discussion! – Gabi Purcaru Aug 19 '11 at 20:20

1 Answer 1

The character is called the ampersand, and this wikipedia article should be able to give you the info you want:

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).

As to what the difference is between "&" and "and", the accepted answer to a post (Courtesy: Kit) asking this question demonstrates this quite succinctly.

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oh great, there's an entire wikipedia article on it and I failed to find it. Thanks a lot, and sorry for asking such a silly question – Gabi Purcaru Aug 19 '11 at 18:59
@Gabi If it were a silly question, there wouldn't be a whole Wikipedia article on it. It's a good question, but you can't be expected to find the article if you don't know what the symbol is called. – Kit Z. Fox Aug 19 '11 at 19:10
And, of course, the reason that E and T were written together often enough to become a ligature is that "et" is Latin for "and." – Phoenix Aug 20 '11 at 2:02
Legend has it that this is the last remaining trace of Tironian shorthand: Tiro, secretary to Cicero, found various ways to abbreviate commonly used Latin words and phrases (as you'd have to, if you were trying to record Cicero's speeches). Si non e vero, e ben trovato. – TimLymington Dec 27 '12 at 14:27

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