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The truth about the ampersand will blow your mind

Ampersand
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Christmas period is the perfect time for trivia, so we thought it high time we reshared this fascinating ampersand fact that's sure to knock your (fluffy) socks off. And who knows, maybe this nugget of trivia from the treasure trove of eccentricity that is the English language will help you win a family quiz.

For those not familiar with the technical word 'ampersand', it's this '&' symbol, commonly used as shorthand for 'and'. Designers had their minds blown earlier this year when the below tweet was shared, informing everyone of the true meaning of the ampersand. (If you'd like to try out the ampersand in a range of different fonts, check out the best free fonts around). Ready for the fact? Okay, here we go...

Editor and author Sarah Pappalardo explained the secret behind the symbol with a tweet that has sparked astonishment in the Twitter world. She pointed out that the ampersand is a ligature (a combination of two or more graphemes tied together, if you're not in the know), for the word 'et'.   

Reactions on Twitter saw people sharing when they first found this out (those clever clogs are very much in the minority, though, we have to say).

Other notable ligatures include those representing 'ae' and 'oe', but we reckon there are none so well-known and visible as the ampersand. Another interesting nugget is that the symbol used to come at the end of the alphabet, making it a character in its own right that children would recite up until the 1800s. You can find out even more in the below video. Who knew there was so much to discover about the curly 'and' symbol?

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