To quote aldiboronti, from whose Wordorigins thread I swiped this link:

Lovely page from Adobe on the historical development of the ampersand, from the ligature of ET or et to the & of today, with illustrations of various stages, the earliest being a ligature from Pompeian graffiti dated 79AD.

A wonderfully exhaustive treatment of this relic of ancient times.

Addendum. See the wide-ranging discussion of the use of ampersands in poetry going on at Dave Bonta’s Via Negativa.


  1. Pursuant the previously-stated LH friendliness to off-topic comments, I’ve been looking up Negroponte. Why does a Greek-American have an Italianish name meaning “Black Bridge”?
    The Venetians occupied Euboia in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade (which conquered Byzantium since that was easier and more convenient than conquering Jerusalem). It was a major Venetian possession for a few centuries until the Turks took it. In the XIXc it was liberated and became Greek. Presumably the originally-Venetian name “Negroponte” was kept during the Turkish era in resistance to the Turkish name (whatever that was), whereas if the Greeks had liberated the island themselves they might have reverted to Euboia. When the Greeks finally did liberate Euboia after 600+ years, the family name had become established. That’s my guess.
    Euboea (the largest Greek Island after Crete) played what was apparently quite a mediocre role in the classical age, and is singularly lacking in relics, artifacts and ruins, though the scenery is great.
    Euboea has or had a considerable romance-speaking Vlach-Wallachian-Aroumanian population. However, I doubt that that accounts for the name Negroponte.
    Vlachs, etc., including something by Virginia Woolf

  2. Language hat-man-sama
    Thanks for the ampersand history notice — i went and looked and
    They resemble Chinese characters for clan and woman . . . I used a huge ampersand ing the title for a book recently: Orientalism & Occidentalism, but it is Japan/ese-related so i will comment at your other post

  3. Hi, I am writing about occidentalism and your book :”Orientalism and Occidentalism…”. I live in Poland and I am preparing to write my graduating work . Ihave chosen theme connected with occidentalism. I really need your book , I want to buy it.Can you tell how or where can I order it?
    Thank you for your Help!

  4. You should write to Robin directly. For what it’s worth, you can search the book at GoogleBook.

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