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The ampersand , even ampersand or ampersand is a useful in certain cases replacement character for the word "and" ( lat. Et ). It is also colloquially referred to as ampersand , ampersand or company and , as it is widely used in business and is included in numerous company names.

Meaning and use

Characters for "and"

The ampersand in modern print
A historical form of the sign. The Latin Et is still easy to recognize.
Alternative form in the Trebuchet MS font , recognizable as an Et ligature

The ampersand represents the word "and". Originally it was mainly used to write company names, e.g. B. Dolce & Gabbana , Lekkerland AG & Co. KG . Several names of artist duos and music groups are also written with &, e.g. B. Pat & Patachon , Al Bano & Romina Power , Simon & Garfunkel or Mike & the Mechanics . The symbol can also be found in titles of films (e.g. Thelma & Louise , Tom & Jerry ), books and magazines (e.g. Food & Drink ), music albums (e.g. Reich & Sexy ), etc.

The Duden describes a restricted use of the ampersand: "[The symbol] is only used for company names and in titles, headings, etc. related to them."

The version of DIN 5008 published in 2020 describes the use in company names and in related word pairs in titles and headings, for example "Research & Development Department" .

Except for such proper names and titles, and are usually not replaced by &. As an abbreviation for and is instead u. intended; however, this abbreviation is avoided in well-kept texts because it impairs legibility and only saves one character.

However, the character & has also found a certain distribution outside the realm of proper names and work titles, for example in formulaic spellings like R&B (short for rhythm and blues ) or B&B (short for bed and breakfast ). In the advertising sector, similar “pair formulas” are occasionally written with & (“Fun & Adventure in Mallorca”).

Maximum brevity and conciseness can be advantageous, for example when labeling menu items and selection buttons on the Internet. In online retail, there are selection categories of the type apps & games , office supplies & stationery , computers & accessories , etc.

The plus sign + is at least tolerated as a substitute for &the context or type of text .

Characters for "et" in "etc."

Typographically, the ampersand is a ligature spelling of the Latin word et (German and ). In older texts, especially in English and French , the spelling “& c.” (→ et cetera ) is used instead of “etc.”  .

Computer science


In some programming languages , this stands &for bitwise AND or, especially in C and C ++ , address referencing . In this context, the ampersand is called " ampersand " ( Engl. Called) or "address operator".

In many command line / shell / script languages (especially the Unix derivatives ), the end of a command list signals &that this command list is to be processed asynchronously ; in others it acts &as a separator if several commands are on the same line ( Cmd-Shell of the Windows NT family ).

In contrast, the logical AND is represented in many programming languages ​​( C , C ++ , Java , JavaScript , PHP , Bash , ...) by a double ampersand ( &&).

In many implementations of Algol 60 is &the exponent of a number of type "real" is used.

World wide web

In a URL this is &between the parameter-value pairs of the query component .

Origin / creation

Examples of different manifestations ( glyphs ) of the character, starting with original shapes

The ampersand is a ligature from late antiquity made up of the letters e and t (Latin et , German and ), the development of which came to an end in the Carolingian minuscule . It was used beyond the Middle Ages as a normal letter combination similar to our current fi or fl ligatures.

Equivalent to the ampersand, the tironic et occurring in the Irish script is still used today in Irish and Scottish Gaelic ( ). Its appearance ( glyph ), like that of &, shows a great variety. This symbol is also used in the German Fraktur for the abbreviation " c." (For "etc.") with a glyph similar to the round r .

English and French names

The English term ampersand is a contraction of and per se and , which means "and and in itself".

This formulation comes from the fact that in schools when the alphabet is recited, each letter that can also be used as a word (A, I and sometimes also O) is preceded by the Latin phrase “in itself”. In addition, the alphabet was recited in England in the 19th century with the addition "and &". So the end becomes X, Y, Z and per se and . Over time, this last phrase was erased into ampersand and adopted in this form in general English usage around 1837.

French students also learned the character at the end of the alphabet, where it was recited as et per lui et and then ground down to esperluette . A proposal from 1807 to replace the “barbaric” esperluette with et did not prevail.

Representation in computer systems and replacement


In the international character coding system Unicode , & is in position:

  • U + 0026 ampersand (ampersand).

The character is in the same position in the ASCII character set.

In the Internet document format HTML and in XML , the character is encoded as follows:

  • & (hexadecimal),
  • & (decimal) and
  • & (named character).

In urls :

  • %26


On the German and Swiss keyboards , the ampersand is on the top row of keys above the number 6and can be Umschalttasteentered using the. The Neo keyboard layout is Mod 3+ Q.

On the English and American keyboards, the ampersand is also in the top row of keys, but above the number 7.

Even if the keyboard used does not have the character, it can often be inserted using a corresponding function of the operating system or the respective text editor .


If the character cannot be displayed because it is missing in the font or character set used , it should be replaced by the word "and".

The character is contained in the ASCII standard (and thus in Unicode ) as well as in EBCDIC and can therefore be displayed, processed, transmitted and archived worldwide without any problems in all modern computer systems and fonts.

In LaTeX the character must be preceded by a backslash “\” (ie \&), otherwise it will be interpreted as a tabulator character.

In HTML and XML, the character introduces a character entity . It must therefore be &noted down through the substitute representation . If it is done automatically, this replacement must not be carried out repeatedly, otherwise this would result in consequences of the form &…that a simple Internet search often finds.

Similar characters


See also


  • Jan Tschichold : Form changes in the & signs . VEB Verlag der Kunst, Dresden 1981. (Previously: D. Stempel AG, Frankfurt am Main 1953.) The text of this book is more extensive than the article of the same name mentioned in the web links.
  • Answers to reader questions about the ampersand. Answered in: Der Sprachdienst , Volume 43, Issue 5, 1999, p. 196 f .; The Language Service , Volume 54, Issue 5, 2010, p. 159 f. Society for the German Language (GfdS), Wiesbaden

Web links

Wiktionary: &  - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Ampersands  - Album containing pictures, videos, and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. DIN 5008 : 2020-03. This standard only lists the term ampersand as: "Typographical technical term for: → ampersands".
  2. a b Duden, 27th edition 2017, ISBN 978-3-411-04017-9 , page 122. The term ampersand only appears in this edition as a reference to the term "commercial ampersand" (page 117 ; Lower case "and" in the original). The previous edition (26., 2013, ISBN 978-3-411-04650-8 ) still had ampersands as the only term (page 104.)
  3. DIN 5008 : 2020-03, Section 9.2 Signs for "and"
  4. ^ Scottish Parliament translation guidelines. (PDF) Retrieved November 15, 2019 .
  5. The ampersand. In: word-detective. Archived from the original on May 8, 2008 ; Retrieved March 11, 2007 .
  6. ^ Jean François Michel: Dictionnaire des expressions vicieuses usitées dans un grand nombre de départements . 1807, p. 84