You may be interested to know where the ‘&’ symbol on our keyboards came from and why it is called the ampersand.

Well, in medieval times the symbol & derived from the Latin et, meaning ‘and’.

The & appeared on every child’s hornbook as part of the alphabet; the 27th symbol after Z. It was pronounced as ‘and’.

As children recited the alphabet, they were obliged to chant per se (Latin for ‘by itself’) after letters that could stand alone as a complete word. Including ‘&’, these numbered four: ‘A per se, A’, ‘O per se, O’, ‘I per se, I’, and ‘& per se, &’ – said as ‘and per se and’.

It was not long before the drawling of ‘& per se, &’ gave the symbol the name of ampersand.

Once common in formal writing, the ampersand is now considered informal. Its most accepted usage is in joining names especially in business names, e.g. Sass & Bide or Smith & Wesson, and in titles, e.g. Dharma & Greg or Kath & Kim.

You may have seen etc. written as &c., harking back to the Latin origin of the ampersand.