Today’s English alphabet has 26 letters and concludes with the letter Z, but it wasn’t always like that. The ampersand, the symbol “&” which means “and”, used to be the 27th letter of the English language. The ampersand has an interesting history behind both the symbol and the name. So where did it come from and where did it go? The symbol “&” came into being over 1500 years ago.
Roman scribes used to write in cursive and tried to save as much space as possible. The Latin word for 'and' is et, which when written in cursive became “&” after linking the e and t.
The name “ampersand” also has an interesting history. & was considered a letter in itself and was said by children at the end of the alphabet in the 1800’s. They would conclude the alphabet by saying “X, Y, Z and per se and.” Per se means “by itself,” so children were really saying, “X, Y, Z, and by itself and.”
As the years passed, the end of the alphabet began to slur together and the words “and per se and” simply turned into “ampersand,” which is now the name for the symbol &!