@ sign?

dux's picture

Just a little question :-)

I was wondering whether anyone could confirm or deny that the name of the '@' character is indeed the 'at sign'. I think I'm right in saying it had scientific origins, but I'm not convinced it's true name is this.


porky's picture

I think its called an "Ampersat", but I always call it the at sign :-)

Yves, is it right that in Dutch its called the apestaart, meaning "Moneky's Tail"?,

joffre's picture

Before PostScript, the character was known as an "At Cost Symbol". Also refered to as a "commercial at", or "apiece".

pablohoney77's picture

i think i'm gonna start calling it "sobochka" as the Russians do.

NvdK's picture

Hello Luke,

On the conference in Berlin this year there was a lecture from Alexander Nagel about the at-sign.

Perhaps you can ask him more about it.

Good luck

Dav's picture

In Austria ( or Germany too, maybe ) its called 'Klammer Affe' ( Or 'Klammeraffe', rather ), which would ( roughly ) translate as 'Parenthesis Ape' / 'Clip Ape'.. :-)

rs_donsata's picture

Here we call it "arroba"

vincent_connare's picture

Joffre is right when I was at Reading University I researched it and the 'at cost' and 'per' both characters found in only American and Monotype character sets in the late 19th and early 20th century. Used for selling things..

The 'per' design from 14..15th century English legal documents (English Court-Hand) and Latin based and the 'at cost' also loosely seems to have it's origins in Latin truncation. Many other characters derive their origins from Latin truncation, the '#' (pound or hash) , the 'pound sterling' and the 'shilling' are all more modern forms of the Roman Libra as was the Italian Lira. The Roman Libra was a sign of monetary measurement and for weight measurement. Other characters such as the Rx or 'recipe' an R with a slash through it's leg used now almost exclusively in America for 'pharmacy prescriptions' is a Latin form, it is also a truncation from 'response' used with the 'versicle' in Latin liturgical prayer books.

This 'at' or 'at cost' seems to have survived since it found a modern use.

This an old posting I have still on my site of the Monotype Matrix case, one of the earliest and best examples of how it was part of a 'commercial character set'. The book is 1916 and the date in the book as I seem to remember pre-dates Monotype, so it must be wrong.


But the 'Euro'. now that's Modern rubbish... is it the Cento sign? .. or Centi? and has no one ever clamed it to be a modern Latin form? But someone may call it the same at the Libra or Lira or Pound sterling, all being truncated characters.

John Hudson's picture

There was a discussion on comp.fonts many years ago about the various names for @. I think my favourite was 'the bagel'.

iota's picture

The only thing is if you called it anything else other than an "at sign" people would be like "huh?", and you'd end up having to tell them it means the "at sign" anyway. ;)

John Hudson's picture

If I recall correctly, 'bagel' was a fairly common name for the at sign in Israel, at least circa 1995. But this article says 'strudel' and also notes some other local names: http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0HWW/is_19_4/ai_75213360

twardoch's picture

There is a link collection at http://www.myfonts.com/unicode/0040/

Adam Twardoch

Miss Tiffany's picture

I've never liked calling it "the at sign". It felt clunky and without academic merit (somehow). I think I'll start using "apiece", very nice thank you.

Bald Condensed's picture

"Apestaart" indeed, which is loosely related to the German "Klammeraffe"
(both referring to monkeys).

Syndicate content Syndicate content