Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
September 7th, 2015
Episode 312 of 900 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 07, 2015 is: ampersand \am-pər-sand\ noun : a character & that is used for the word and Examples: The company coming out of this merger will have a name that combines elements of each of the original companies' names with an ampersand. "The techies attempt to log in as me. They fail. They are flummoxed. Did I log in too many times? Did the ampersand in my password (NTTAisGREAT&) throw off the system?" Dave Lieber, The Dallas Morning News, 25 July 2015 Did you know? Despite appearances, the history of ampersand owes nothing to amp or sand. The familiar character & derives from a symbol that was used in place of the Latin word et, which also means "and." In the late Middle Ages, single letters used as wordswords like Iwere, when spelled, incorporated into a phrase that clarified that they were in fact individual words. For I the phrase was I per se, I, which in Latin means "I by itself (is the word) I." In early lists of the alphabet, Z was followed by the symbol &, which was rendered & per se, and, meaning "& by itself (is the word) and." Over the years, that phrase (which when spoken aloud was pronounced "and per se and") was shortened by English speakers to ampersand.