Today the “&” is treated as a single character but the ampersand is actually the two letters E and T combined.
“Et” is Latin for and. Certain versions of the ampersand like this one reveal the origin of the shape.
The "&" was first seen in Pompeian graffiti in first century AD. Writing the word this way saved the writer time.
The character “&” became so popular it was taught as the 27th part of the alphabet.
It was rather confusing for the students to say “X, Y, Z, and.” Rather, the students said, “and per se and.”. “Per se” is Latin and means “by itself”. Over time, “and per se and” was slurred together into the word "ampersand" and was first added to the dictionary in 1837.
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