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"&" ASCII character 38.

Common names: ITU-T, INTERCAL: ampersand; amper; and. Rare: address (from C); reference (from C++); bitand; background (from sh); pretzel; amp.

A common symbol for "and", used as the "address of" operator in C, the "reference" operator in C++ and a bitwise AND operator in several programming languages.

UNIX shells use the character to indicate that a task should be run in the background.

The ampersand is a ligature (combination) of the cursive letters "e" and "t", invented in 63 BC by Marcus Tirus as shorthand for the Latin word for "and", "et".

The word ampersand is a conflation (combination) of "and, per se and". Per se means "by itself", and so the phrase translates to "&, standing by itself, means 'and'". This was at the end of the alphabet as it was recited by children in old English schools. The words ran together and were associated with "&". The "ampersand" spelling dates from 1837.

Take our word for it.


The ampersand (&) normally means "and" as in Jones & Company. However, in the computer world, it is used in various ways. In Windows, it is used as a code to precede an underlined character. As a result, in some input dialogs, you have to enter a double ampersand (&&) to actually define a single ampersand.

In programming, a double ampersand is used to represent the Boolean AND operator such as in the C statement, if (x >= 100 && x >= 199).

In HTML, the ampersand is used to code foreign letters and special characters such as the copyright and trademark symbols. See ampersand codes and address operator.