The ampersand

Ampersand sketch

The ampersand was once the 27th letter after ‘Z’ in the Latin alphabet. The shape of the character (&) predates the word ‘ampersand’ by more than 1,500 years. In the first century, Roman scribes wrote in cursive, so when they wrote the Latin word et which means ‘and’ they linked the e and t. In the early 1800s, school children reciting their ABCs concluded the alphabet with the ‘&’. It was recited as “and per se and”, meaning ‘and by itself and’. Over time ‘and per se and’ morphed together into the word ‘ampersand’.