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?
  • 4
    This post may be of interest to you.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Aug 19, 2011 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, 2011 at 19:10
  • 2
    You may also like this series on the history of the ampersand tips invisible hat to @JSB
    – aedia λ
    Aug 19, 2011 at 19:32
  • 2
    wow, this is a really nice community, you turned a question that shouldn't be posted into a great discussion! Aug 19, 2011 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.

  • 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 Aug 19, 2011 at 18:59
  • 2
    @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, 2011 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, 2011 at 2:02
  • 1
    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. Dec 27, 2012 at 14:27

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