At sign

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The at sign or shortly At [ ɛt ] ( English at "at"), also address character , according to a presumption of its origin and ad characters or short ad ( Latin ad "in"), the characters  @ . Colloquial terms are monkey tail, monkey ear, monkey swing, spider monkey . The at-sign is a fundamental part of e-mail addresses , it is placed between the user name and the domain . It is also used as a symbol for the Internet , for example on signposts to Internet cafés .



The origin of the symbol is unclear, there are several hypotheses. Two of them are settled in the Middle Ages : either the origin as a handwritten fusion ( ligature ) of the letters a and d of the Latin word ad (German: zu, an, bei) or as an abbreviation. It is said to have been used as a hollow unit in Italy in the 16th century.

Possible origin of the sign:
as a ligature from the French à

According to another theory, the @ developed as a ligature from French à with the same meaning as it does today, e.g. B. 2 pieces of 500 grams each (= 500 grams each).

The most conclusive theory is that the Moors brought the mark to the Iberian Peninsula as a unit of measurement, which can still be seen today on wine and olive barrels dating from that time. Subsequently, Spanish, Portuguese and then French merchants who traded in bulls and wine used it as a measure for solid and liquid called arroba, about ten kilograms (25 libras) or 15 liters. The word is Arabicالربع / ar-rubʿ means “the quarter”. The unit arroba (s) was represented with the symbol @. The name arroba for the @ has since been used in Spain, France, Portugal and Brazil.

In the files of the Reich Chamber Court from the 18th century, the @ was used with the meaning contra ("against"): for example Maier @ Müller .

19th century

According to current opinion typographers-the @ sign is a ligature, which already as old cast lead character in the Monotype - Journals Library in London appears mid-19th century. It was a commercial symbol that was then called commercial a . Prices such as 5 apples @ 10 p result in the following meaning: five apples at 10 pence (“5 apples at 10 pence”). The @ has been recorded on English typewriters since the 1880s .

20th century and present

The fieldata -Computerprojekt of the US Army Signal Corps in the 1950s used a character set, which is also the original character set of the computer Series 1100 from Univac was and the great influence on the later ASCII should have character set. Here, this symbol was called Master Space (MS) and was used to initiate control instructions.

When e-mail was invented in 1971, an as yet unused character was searched for in the American telex typeface ( ASCII ), which was placed between the user name and the computer name and should clearly separate the two names. Here came Ray Tomlinson on the @ and used it as a symbol of at in e-mail addresses. The designation at (= bei) was also suitable because the username before the @ originally referred to a person and the domain after the @ usually referred to the mainframe of the company or institute at which the person worked.

In English, the pronunciation of the word “at” is used throughout (as in I'm at home ), ie [ æt ]; Today the sign is called at sign or commercial at . In German, the name is usually adapted in the pronunciation and pronounced [ ɛt ] ("Ätt").

The at-sign has been an official part of Morse code since the beginning of 2004 : · −− · - · (input like A, followed by C without a pause).

On March 22, 2010, the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) announced that the @ sign had been added to the museum's holdings.

Typography and appearance

The character consists of a mostly closed ("one-story") form of the lower-case Latin "a" , mostly also in a straight ("normal") font inclined to the right, similar to an italic form with one at the bottom right, the entire a-form left-handed in arc ("monkey tail") that runs around the circumference at approximately the same distance and ends freely near the connection point (in serif fonts mostly in a pointed spout ) . The height and position of the a-shape can correspond to the lowercase letter "a" (that is, it extends from the base line to the x-line ), but the a-shape is often smaller and then lies between the lines mentioned. In any case, the arch protrudes below the baseline and above the x-line, but does not have to reach the p-line at the bottom or the H-line at the top .

In italic fonts, provided the a-form (as is usually the case) already appears in italics in a straight font, the same glyph can be used as in the straight font. In some fonts , the curve axis of the enclosing arc is inclined here with the a-shape unchanged.

a , at sign and (if available) small Latin alpha in the fonts
    Arial , Times New Roman , Cambria , Linux Libertine ,
    Adobe Garamond , Andron Mega Corpus, Consolas , Breitkopf-Fraktur
In the second line italic in the same fonts

Other uses

Addressing individuals in electronic correspondence

According to DIN 5008 , the address symbol can be used in texts addressed to several known people to simplify addressing individual people. The character is at the beginning of the line, followed by a space , name and colon; this string can be highlighted in bold .

User identification in microblogging

In microblogging texts (e.g. Twitter messages), the address character is placed directly in front of a user name (without spaces), for example if the text is viewed as specifically meaningful for the named user, or if one refers to actions or texts of this user .

At sign symbolizing internet services on a shop sign in Brussels

Symbol for the internet

In the English-speaking world, the sign was in use long before the advent of e-mail, so there is no special connection between @ and the Internet . The symbolic association with the Internet in Germany and other non-English-speaking countries results from the fact that, before the Internet boom, the symbol in these countries was only known to programmers and home computer users, but traditionally played no role in correspondence.

Character for the word at

The @ symbol is occasionally used in scientific contexts, in data sheets for electronic components and in other texts for the shortened spelling of English at or German at . Example:

  • d = 1,000 g / ml @ 4 ° C, 1015 mbar - the density of water at a certain temperature and pressure

In chemical formulas, the symbol @ is used for endohedral complexes in which one particle is trapped in another particle. For example, in He @ C 60, a helium atom is trapped in a spherical molecule made of carbon atoms .

The @ is also occasionally used in US sports to replace the at . The home team is named second here. Example: Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks

Programming languages ​​and operating systems

In older programming languages (for example in some dialects of BASIC or in the database system dBASE ) @ was sometimes also used as an operator for position specifications, the BASIC command, which is only available in some dialects , for example places the word HELLO in the 10th line and from the 12th line onwards Column of the screen. PRINT @ 12,10,"HALLO"

In some programming languages, for example the variant of Object Pascal used in the Delphi development environment , @ is used to determine the memory address of a variable . determines, for example, the address of the floating point variable d and stores it in the pointer variable p . var p: Pointer; d: Double; begin p := @d; end;  

In the PHP programming language , @ is noted as an error control operator before a function call, in order to suppress error messages from the called function.

In the Forth programming language , @ denotes the "Fetch" operator that puts the content of a memory address on the stack. The associated storage operator “Store” is denoted by “!”, For example C = A + Bthrough A @ B @ + C !.

In the OpenVMS operating system , the @ sign is used to start DCL command procedures.

In Objective-C , the @ introduces the literal of a string object, for example @"Simon sagt". There (opposite C) new key words are also marked with a preceding @ (for example @interface, @synchronizedetc.).

In Haskell , the @ (read as, English for as ) is a keyword to assign an identifier to the entire value of a pattern matching . For example, in the expression list@(x:xs)that matches a non-empty list, the name denotes listthe entire list, while xthe first element xsdenotes the remainder of the list; listso corresponds x:xs. Such a pattern is called an as-pattern .

In Julia the @ is used as a prefix for macros, for example @time.

In Java , annotations begin with an @ , e.g. B. @Override.

In Python be Decorators preceded by @, z. B. @property.

Company name

     Legal notice Please note the information on legal issues!

In Germany, the admissibility of the at sign and other special characters that are not part of the German spelling (such as the ampersand "&") in company names to be entered in the commercial register was initially controversial, but today (as of 2013) can be seen as possible in principle. This was regularly rejected around the year 2000, for example in a decision of the Higher Regional Court of Braunschweig of November 27, 2000 (Az. 2 W 270/00, "met @ box"), or in a judgment of the Regional Court of Munich I of November 3, 2000. April 2001 (Az. 17 HTK 24115/00, "D @ B"). As early as 2004, however, the Berlin Regional Court allowed this (Az. 102 T 122/03, "T @ S GmbH"), with a decision of February 12, 2009 (Az. 17 HKT 920/09, "@p oHG") that too District Court Munich I. In the last-mentioned decision it was emphasized that the "@" can be pronounced as the English word "at" and thus does not stand in the way of the pronounceability of the company name. Using the “@” as a fashionable way of spelling the letter “a”, however, is not registrable in the commercial register.

In Austria, the @ character is since occurred January 1, 2007 enactment of the Commercial Code in principle capable of registration (UGB), but only permitted if (made in the debate no doubt depending on usage: "at" or "a" or "spider monkey ").


In Germany, “@” was protected in 2012 as a word mark for various Nice classes (including food and clothing). In 2013, an application for cancellation was filed against the entry due to invalidity due to absolute grounds for refusal. In 2014 the German Patent and Trademark Office canceled the trademark. The Federal Patent Court confirmed this deletion in 2017 and stated that the @ sign is a fundamental part of e-mail addresses.

An international registration was rejected in 2014.



Letter similar to the at symbol in the
Doulos SIL font

The Koalib language spoken in southern Sudan uses the Latin alphabet with a few additional letters added , including a letter similar to the at sign, which is used in the spelling of Arabic loanwords to transcribe the ʿain . A request made in 2004 to include these characters as Roman characters in Unicode was rejected after concerns were raised that a letter too similar to the at symbol would facilitate spoofing and create security vulnerabilities. Another request made in 2012 to encode only the uppercase letter as a special character not permitted in URLs and to refer to the existing at sign for the lowercase letter was also not accepted, as the language community used the characters Ⓐ / Ⓐ (U + 24B6 circled latin capital letter a , U + 24D0 circled latin small letter a ).

The organization SIL International , which deals with minority languages , maintains a list of characters not included in Unicode, to which it assigns code points in the “ Private Use Area ” of Unicode. The letters similar to the at signs are included as U + F247 latin small letter at and U + F248 latin capital letter at . As of February 15, 2013, version 6.2a of this list has marked these letters as "deprecated", and the use of the circled letters Ⓐ / ⓐ is recommended here as well.


The current spelling of the language of the Yuchi living in Oklahoma today uses the at sign for the sound [æ] as in English at . Since this spelling does not use capital letters (but instead uses Latin capital letters as the unambiguous spelling of specific phonemes ), no capital letter variant of the "@" is used.

Gender-neutral shorthand (Spanish)

Shop window in Córdoba (southern Spain 2014): "niñ @" stands for "niño / niña"

In Spanish-speaking countries, the at-sign at the end of words is used “creatively”, so to speak, in order to achieve a gender-neutral shortcut . The character then also stands for the letter a (female) or o (male). It is mainly used in informal communication such as chats or on websites , but occasionally also in official documents, for example in the Bolivian Certificado Médico de nacid @ viv @ (live born certificate).

Representation in computer systems

In the international Unicode character encoding system , the character is contained in the Basic Latin block as U + 0040 commercial at . This is the same position as in the older ASCII character set.

In the Internet document format HTML it is coded as follows:

  • @ (hexadecimal) and
  • @ (decimal).


On the usual German (MF2) keyboard , the @ sign is the third assignment on the key Qand can be Alt-Grentered using the key . Under Windows systems you can also use Alt-Grthe two keys Strgand Altinstead of, but this is not recommended as this key combination can also be deactivated on Windows systems. On the German-Swiss keyboard it is the third assignment on the 2 key, hence Alt-Gr+ 2.

On German Apple keyboards, the character is the third assignment since Mac OS 9.1 Land can be entered using the Option key . Before that it was on + + 1. On Swiss Apple keyboards, the character is the third assignment on the G key, hence + G.

The Neo keyboard layout is Mod 3 +  Y.

On the British keyboard, the character is above the apostrophe and on the American keyboard above the number 2. Here, the character is reached with the help of Umschalttaste, i.e. without what is usually not available on these keyboards  Alt-Gr.

Furthermore, it is on many operating systems possible, the sign by entering their ASCII codes 64 on the numeric keypad while holding down Altto write key: Alt+ 6, 4.


If the character cannot be displayed because it is missing in the font or character set used (for example in teletext or on writing telephones ), it can possibly be replaced by auxiliary words such as "at" or also "an", "bei", 'Per', 'pro', 'for' or 'ever' can be replaced. Until 1982, a space enclosed in a space could be used for e-mail addresses atinstead of @the Internet at the time. With the replacement of RFC 733 by RFC 822 , this option was no longer available.

However, since practically all modern computer systems and fonts are based on Unicode or the older ASCII standard, the character can be displayed, processed, transmitted and archived worldwide without any problems. A replacement for technical reasons is therefore hardly necessary. Even if the keyboard used does not have the character, it can practically always be inserted using a corresponding function of the operating system or the respective text editor .

Recently, the character on the Internet has often been replaced by other character strings such as "(a)", "(at)", "[at]" or the auxiliary words mentioned above, in order to make it more difficult for spambots to enter a character string as E - Recognize email address.

Designation in other languages

  • In Arabic today it is pronounced “et” (borrowed from English).
  • In Azerbaijani it is called "at" (borrowed from English).
  • In Basque one says "a bildua" ( a rolled or a wrapped ).
  • In Bulgarian , the spider monkey is called “ Bulgarian кльомба ” (“klyomba”, no further meaning) or “ маймунско а(monkey A) .
  • In Danish and Swedish it is called "snabel-a" (trunk-A) . Due to its similar shape, the at-sign is often referred to as the Kanelbulle in Sweden .
  • In Finnish , the spider monkey was originally called “taksamerkki” (fee symbol) or “yksikköhinnan merkki” (unit price symbol) . Meanwhile the official and common name is "ät-merkki"; everyday: "kissanhäntä" (cat's tail) . When specifying e-mail addresses one says "ät" or "miuku mauku" ( onomatopoetic suggesting cat).
  • In French, similar to Spanish and Portuguese (see below): “ar (r) obas (e)” or “arrobe”. But also "a commercial".
  • In Greece it is called duckling (little duck, Greek παπάκι 'papaki' ).
  • In modern Hebrew it is colloquially referred to as the German word "Strudel" (in Hebrew script שטרודל), according to the shape of the pastry . The official name is "keruchith" (כרוכית), the Hebrew word for vortex.
  • In Icelandic one says "fílseyra" (elephant ear) for the spider monkey.
  • In Italian you say “chiocciola” (snail) .
  • In Japanese it is called “attomāku” (ア ッ ト マ ー ク, “at sign”). The word is a Wasei-Eigo , a word creation that uses English terms. It is sometimes called Naruto because of the Naruto strudel or food ( kamaboko ).
  • In Korean it is called “골뱅이” (Golbaengi; in German “ whelk ”).
  • In Croatian it is informally called “manki”. The word name is based on the English pronunciation for the term monkey. The Croatian name for a monkey, majmun, is not used.
  • In Lithuania the spider monkey is called "Eta".
  • In Dutch one speaks of "apenstaartje" (monkey tail) .
  • The Norwegians call the spider monkey "krøllalfa" (Kringel Alpha) .
  • In the Polish language the sign is called "małpa" (monkey) or "małpka" (little monkey).
  • In Portugal , Spain and Latin America , the symbol represents a weight of 25 pounds (a quarter of a cent). Both this unit of weight and the symbol are called "arroba", from arab. “Ar-roub” (the quarter).
  • In Russian one says “sobaka” ( собака ) (dog) or dim. "Sobačka" ( собачка ) ( little dog) .
  • In Serbian the term “ludo-A” (crazy A) is common, but “majmun” (monkey), “majmunsko A” (monkey tail) and “majmunski rep” (monkey tail) are also common terms.
  • In Slovak and Czech they say “Zavináč” (roll mops) .
  • In Turkish one says "kuyruklu a" (a with a tail), whereby Kuyruk refers to the tail of an animal.
  • In Hungary it is called "kukac" (worm) , occasionally also "bájgli" (~ strudel ).

Web links

Commons : @  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: @  - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. DIN 5008 : 2020-03
  2. a b c Annette Kögel: The @ is ready for a museum . Time online , June 17, 2010
  3. Bert Ungerer: 40 Years of Network Mail - A Sign. ix - Magazine for professional information technology, November 2011, accessed on November 25, 2013 .
  4. ^ A. Rawsthorn: Why @ Is Held in Such High Design Esteem . In: The New York Times . March 21, 2010.
  5. Update for the Morse alphabet heise online, April 18, 2004
  6. Paola Antonelli : blog entry.
  7. DIN 5008 : 2020-03, Section 22 "Electronic Correspondence", Subsection 22.8 "Layout and Text"
  8. Error control operators. PHP manual
  9. Keywords - HaskellWiki. In: Retrieved January 4, 2017 .
  10. Document no .: 110916426: Special characters can be entered in the commercial register. Hanover Chamber of Commerce and Industry, November 18, 2009, archived from the original on December 5, 2014 ; Retrieved April 13, 2013 .
  11. @ -sign as part of the company. JurPC, June 25, 2001, accessed April 13, 2013 .
  12. "@" in the name of a businessman - no entry in the commercial register., March 4, 2001, archived from the original on August 18, 2014 ; Retrieved April 13, 2013 .
  13. Noogie C. Kaufmann: Court allows spider monkeys in the company name. heise online, August 21, 2004, accessed on April 13, 2013 .
  14. ^ LG Munich I · Decision of February 12, 2009 · Az. 17 HKT 920/09. openJur, February 12, 2009, accessed April 13, 2013 .
  15. The new company law according to the company code - guidelines for the assessment of company words. (PDF; 240 kB) Austrian Chamber of Commerce, May 2011, p. 14 , archived from the original on March 24, 2012 ; Retrieved April 13, 2013 .
  16. Falk Hedemann: @ -sign registered as word mark - use could soon be expensive ( Memento from October 31, 2012 in the Internet Archive ), October 29, 2012
  17. ^ DPMA - trademark search. German Patent and Trademark Office, accessed on March 20, 2017 .
  18. Federal Patent Court, decision of February 22, 2017, Az. 26 W (pat) 44/14 ( online ).
  19. The Eye of Mubasha . Spiegel Online from April 10, 2017.
  20. Pia Ratzesberger: Mr. Musebeni and his struggle @., March 20, 2017, accessed on March 20, 2017 .
  21. ROMARIN query. WIPO ( World Intellectual Property Organization ), accessed March 20, 2017 . , Search term 1173582
  22. ^ Lorna Evans (then Lorna A. Priest): Proposal to Encode Chinantec Tone Marks and Orthographic 'at' Characters. (PDF; 573 kB) Unicode Technical Committee, Document L2 / 04-349, August 27, 2004, accessed on October 21, 2017 (English).
  23. ^ Doug Ewell: The case against encoding the Koalib @ letters. (PDF; 215 kB) Unicode Technical Committee, Document L2 / 04-365, October 20, 2004, accessed on October 21, 2017 (English).
  24. ^ Karl Pentzlin: Proposal to encode a symbol "Capitalized Commercial At" in the UCS. (PDF; 414 kB) ISO / IEC JTC1 / SC2 / WG2, Document N4257, April 17, 2012, accessed on October 21, 2017 (English).
  25. Jump up ↑ Draft Minutes of UTC Meeting 134 - San Jose, CA - Jan 28 - Feb 1, 2013. Unicode Technical Committee, Document L2 / 13-011, February 4, 2013, accessed October 21, 2017 .
  26. ^ Recommendations to UTC on Script Proposals. Unicode Technical Committee, Document L2 / 13-028, January 25, 2013, accessed October 21, 2017 .
  27. ^ Lorna Evans: SIL Corporate PUA Assignments. SIL International, February 15, 2013, accessed April 13, 2013 .
  28. yUdjEha gO'wAdAnA-A h @ ê Ôk'âfA. (PDF) yUdjEha gO'wAdAnA k'ak'unE-chE - Euchee / Yuchi Language Project, accessed on April 14, 2013 (English / Yuchi).
  29. host-indicator in: RFC 733 . 1977, Chapter III, Section E. Syntax and the examples