Where the Weirdest Keyboard Symbols Come From (01 Sep 2015)
Where the Weirdest Keyboard Symbols Come From
Every wondered where those strange and seemingly foreign keyboard symbols come from?
Those who aren't part of the Twitter generation will probably recognize a '#' as the pound or number sign. It's quite possibly an ancient symbol, and is a rushed and barred-off version of 'lb.', which is the abbreviation for 'pound'.
'At' sign @
The '@' sign came about long before email addresses. It's first documented use was actually in the 1500's for denoting units of wine, but our use of the symbol probably comes from a speedily written French 'à' which translates to 'at'. It showed up in email addresses partly because it was so rare, which made it a good candidate for something new.
Dollar sign $
Though the dollar sign is a common symbol, its origins are hard to track down. The US Bureau of Engraving and Printing provides a convincing explanation though - It comes from the 'P' for Mexican or Spanish pesos, and over time, the 'S' was written over it to pluralize it, forming the $.
The asterisk *
The '*' is, quite simply, a little star. It also has a claim to ancient Greek origin. Some scholars say it was first used to note split lines in Homer's Odyssey. Others, however, believe it got its start appearing next to a birth date, to mark when someone was born.
The ampersand &
The '&'s ancient origins are likely a written version of 'ET', which is Latin for 'and'. The ampersand's name is more recent though - It probably comes from an 1800's-era corruption of "and per se and," a phrase which basically explains that the symbol means 'and'.
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