Sign up ×
Spanish Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Spanish language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The symbol & is a representation of the Latin word et (see DPD, Appendix 4). Wikipedia claims that the symbol itself is called et; however, the DRAE's entry for et doesn't list the symbol as a meaning of the word, and I have never heard anybody use it in that way.

Which would be a proper name for that symbol?

share|improve this question
Neither et nor ampersand (which is a direct english translation) exist in DRAE with that meaning. I think the best name is et, but I had never heard of it. So I asked if a better name exist. – J. Calleja Dec 22 '11 at 13:32
I'd say that "&" is not often used in "Spanish sentences". weusually see it inames of International companies or sentences from English. I think that it is because in English "and" is longer than "&" so you save space, but in Spanish "y" is shorter and easier to type/write than "&". – Juanillo Dec 22 '11 at 15:36
My large Oxford dictionary translates ampersand as el signo &, which isn't very helpful. – Peter Taylor Dec 22 '11 at 22:30
Sometimes we call it 'la "y" inglesa' – skan Mar 8 at 15:40

9 Answers 9

Wikipedia has a very clear explanation:

El signo &, cuyo nombre en español es et es una alternativa gráfica de la conjunción copulativa latina et, que significa y de la que deriva la española «y».

Es conocido por su nombre en inglés ampersand, proveniente a su vez de la expresión and per se and, es decir, «y por sí mismo, y», usada como parte de la retahíla para la memorización del alfabeto.

Deriva del latín de donde el signo pasó a diversos idiomas, incluido el español. Su uso en nuestra lengua es superfluo, pues no resulta económico (a diferencia de otros idiomas) ya que la conjunción copulativa y tiene una grafía más breve y sencilla. En textos españoles antiguos es frecuente encontrarlo empleado en la expresión latina adoptada et cetera, en las formas &c. o &cetera.

RAE has this for et:

conj. desus. y.

I'd say & is called et as Wikipedia points out although is read as y just as in English is read as and

Lista de símbolos o signos no alfabetizables from RAE (thanks, Javi)

share|improve this answer
@Icarus, the point of the question (as it stands now) is that although Wikipedia has an explanation it is unsourced and doesn't seem to be consistent with resources which are considered the authority on the subject. This answer doesn't really address that issue. – Peter Taylor Dec 22 '11 at 15:22
@PeterTaylor: OP is asking for the meaning of & and the meaning is clearly y (and); The symbol itself is called et as shown on the link from RAE posted by Javi and on the question itself. I don't know what else can I do/add to answer the question. – Icarus Dec 22 '11 at 15:31
No, he's asking for the name (which isn't the same as the meaning: in English the name is ampersand and the meaning is and); similarly the table from DPD (which I linked in the question when I edited it) is a table of meanings, not of names. – Peter Taylor Dec 22 '11 at 15:40
@Icarus -1 I have to agree with Peter. This does not answer the question as the question is how is it called not about what it means and its origins (although its origins are a bonus nice fact) but irrelevant to answer what is asked. – Joze Apr 16 at 11:28

Based on my personal experience (computer engineering, lots of "&" in programming), I'd say that if you have to name that symbol and want others to understand you while spelling out loud, you have to say "ampersand". Remember that although RAE is the so-called authority, they don't always represent real use. That's why they're constantly upgrading.

share|improve this answer
+1 I also use "ampersand" at work – dusan Dec 23 '11 at 0:05
Yep, the same in Argentina, just ampersand with a stress in the first A – Petruza Dec 31 '11 at 2:31
Yes, as Petruza stated, technically it would be pronounced as "ámpersand" but I didn't dare writing it because is not a spanish word. – hnavarro Jan 3 '12 at 12:03
Curious, in Spain I mostly hear that pronounced "ampersánd". – Darkhogg Dec 4 '14 at 0:54
The RAE tries to represent real use in the whole hispanic world. Not only in Spain. The fact that ampersand is used in Spain doesn't mean it is used in the rest of the hispanic world. 'Real use' concerns all countries. – Joze Apr 7 at 12:24

My Gran Diccionario Larousse is also very unhelpful with this.

When I look up English ampersand it lists merely: signo "&" - and it has no entry for et.

Wiktionary though lists both et and also y comercial, both having feminine gender.

share|improve this answer

Yes, the official name is et but in the real world, at least in Mexico, this is a symbol very related to the English language. Since et is and shortened the translation to Spanish is y, this makes that in spoken language is usual to say:

i inglesa. ("ee" pronunciation for i)

Literally English i.

If you find out that people doesn't understand you while saying et you can try this.

share|improve this answer

In Dominican Republic we call it "y comercial" since in spanish "y" means "and"

share|improve this answer

The symbols in Spanish always stay the same. So the "&" symbol would still be "&". If you were to say "and" in Spanish it would be "y".

share|improve this answer
Could you clarify the name? I know the "&" as both "ampersand" and "and", so saying that you call it "&" provides no help. One of the comments states that neither "et" nor "ampersand" exist in the DRAE. – Diego Mar 3 at 17:49

Its Spanish name is officially “et”, like the Latin word meaning “and”: “En español no se recomienda usar el et pues la conjunción ‘y’ ya es lo suficiente breve y clara, y hasta más fácil de escribir” (The usage of the ampersand is not recommended in Spanish as the conjunction “y” is already brief & clear enough, and even easier to write.) Regards.

share|improve this answer
"No se recomienda usar" is fine, except when the topic is computer languages. If the syntax requires an ampersand, then an ampersand is going to be used. People are going to continue to borrow the English name until something else replaces that. – Walter Mitty Apr 8 at 14:45

In Colombia and Ecuador and Peru and Venezuela we have always used e comercial (pronounciation, et comercial written). In Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic I've seen them use y comercial In Spain as Hnavarro said they use ampersand.

In my humble opinion e comercial is more adapted to the spanish language. Ampersand is more of english and mostly used in engineering environments not in everyday life.

To summarize, I think e comercial is a more globally recognized term seeing it in terms of how many countries widely use it in the hispanic world.

share|improve this answer

Between people who don't know his name is called "El símbolo de y" (the symbol of and).

share|improve this answer
o "el símbolo del gusanito" – Diego Apr 8 at 18:49

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.