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[am-per-sand, am-per-sand] /ˈæm pərˌsænd, ˌæm pərˈsænd/
a character or symbol (& or ) for and :
Smith & Jones, Inc.
Origin of ampersand
1820-30; contraction of and per se and literally, (the symbol) & by itself (stands for) and; see per se Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ampersand
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In 1878, when I spent three weeks at ampersand, the cabin was in ruins, and surrounded by an almost impenetrable growth of bushes.

    Little Rivers Henry van Dyke
  • Never before, so far as I knew, had a camera been set up on ampersand.

    Little Rivers Henry van Dyke
  • We landed on a sand beach at the mouth of a little stream, where a blazed tree marked the beginning of the ampersand trail.

    Little Rivers Henry van Dyke
  • I set my instrument for ampersand Pond, sighted the picture through the ground glass, and measured the focus.

    Little Rivers Henry van Dyke
  • ampersand, falling short by a thousand feet of the needful height, cannot claim this distinction.

    Little Rivers Henry van Dyke
  • And as I was resting for a month one summer at Bartlett's, ampersand challenged me daily.

    Little Rivers Henry van Dyke
British Dictionary definitions for ampersand


the character (&), meaning and: John Brown & Co
Word Origin
C19: shortened from and per se and, that is, the symbol & by itself (represents) and
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ampersand

1837, contraction of and per se and, meaning "(the character) '&' by itself is 'and' " (a hybrid phrase, partly in Latin, partly in English). The symbol is based on the Latin word et "and," and comes from an old Roman system of shorthand signs (ligatures), attested in Pompeiian graffiti, but not (as sometimes stated) from the Tironian Notes, which was a different form of shorthand, probably invented by Cicero's companion Marcus Tullius Tiro, which used a different symbol, something like a reversed capital gamma, to indicate et.

This Tironian symbol was maintained by some medieval scribes, including Anglo-Saxon chroniclers, who sprinkled their works with a symbol like a numeral 7 to indicate the word and. In old schoolbooks the ampersand was printed at the end of the alphabet and thus by 1880s had acquired a slang sense of "posterior, rear end, hindquarters."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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ampersand in Culture
ampersand [(am-puhr-sand)]

A symbol for and (&), as in Dun & Bradstreet.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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ampersand in Technology
"&" ASCII character 38.
Common names: ITU-T, INTERCAL: ampersand; amper; and. Rare: address (from C); reference (from C++); bitand; background (from sh); pretzel; amp.
A common symbol for "and", used as the "address of" operator in C, the "reference" operator in C++ and a bitwise AND operator in several programming languages.
UNIX shells use the character to indicate that a task should be run in the background.
The ampersand is a ligature (combination) of the cursive letters "e" and "t", invented in 63 BC by Marcus Tirus [Tiro?] as shorthand for the Latin word for "and", "et".
The word ampersand is a conflation (combination) of "and, per se and". Per se means "by itself", and so the phrase translates to "&, standing by itself, means 'and'". This was at the end of the alphabet as it was recited by children in old English schools. The words ran together and were associated with "&". The "ampersand" spelling dates from 1837.
Take our word for it (
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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