• ampersand •
æm-pêr-sænd • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: &, a symbol for the conjunction and.
Notes: Today's Good Word refers to a symbol, and for that reason is semantically very limited, hence it has no extended derivational family.
In Play: Ampersand has a rigidly fixed narrow meaning that precludes any play at all: "The editor of my piece chided me for using ampersands and made me replace them with and written out." Again, "Current (2017) AT&T commercials refer to 'the power of AND', referring to, I presume, the ampersand in its logo."
Word History: This word is a contraction of and per se and, meaning "and by itself and", a hybrid phrase, partly in Latin, partly in English. An earlier form of it was colloquial ampussy, which was dropped for obvious reasons, though ampassy was tried and failed at about the same time. &c. was once common way of writing etc., an abbreviation for et "and" + cetera "the rest". So, the symbol & referred the Latin word et "and", and comes from an old Roman system of shorthand signs attested in Pompeiian graffiti. All the later Europeans had to do was drop that final C. (Let's now laud & thank Jackie Strauss for suggesting today's historically interesting Good Word.)
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