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?

  • 1
    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, 2011 at 13:32
  • 1
    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, 2011 at 15:36
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    My large Oxford dictionary translates ampersand as el signo &, which isn't very helpful. Dec 22, 2011 at 22:30
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    Sometimes we call it 'la "y" inglesa'
    – skan
    Mar 8, 2015 at 15:40
  • Between people who don't know his name is called "El símbolo de y" (the symbol of and). Apr 8, 2015 at 17:44

10 Answers 10


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.

  • 4
    +1 I also use "ampersand" at work
    – dusan
    Dec 23, 2011 at 0:05
  • 2
    Yep, the same in Argentina, just ampersand with a stress in the first A
    – Petruza
    Dec 31, 2011 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, 2012 at 12:03
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    Curious, in Spain I mostly hear that pronounced "ampersánd".
    – Darkhogg
    Dec 4, 2014 at 0:54
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    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.
    – Jose Luis
    Apr 7, 2015 at 12:24

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)

  • 4
    @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. Dec 22, 2011 at 15:22
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    @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, 2011 at 15:31
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    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. Dec 22, 2011 at 15:40
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    @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.
    – Jose Luis
    Apr 16, 2015 at 11:28

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.


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.


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


In Colombia and Ecuador and Peru and Venezuela we have always used e comercial (pronunciation, 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 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.


Though the DLE does not mention the symbol explicitly, other sources from the RAE affirm that the symbol is called et in Spanish:

#RAEconsultas El signo & se llama «et», pues nace de la ligadura de las letras «e» y «t», que en latín forman la conjunción «et» (= «y»).

Símbolos o signos no alfabetizables

& et (lat.: y)

&, nombre de este signo gráfico

¿Qué nombre recibe el signo gráfico «&» que aparece en los teclados?

En español se llama et y en inglés ampersand.


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.)

  • "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. Apr 8, 2015 at 14:45

This is a nice question because symbols and abbreviations denote a shorthand for a word(s). Such cases often lead to a lack of translation in any language because these symbols are language context independent ( another example being the $ symbol) (counter examples exist for symbols such as the caret symbol, etc.) According to the historic root, & was used as a short form for et (latin for the word and). Feel free to use "ampersand" or "et" as per your convenience.

  • That does not seem to add anything to the previous answers can you expand it, perhaps with references?
    – mdewey
    Jul 14, 2020 at 8:43

Que tal? Nombre de "&" como "y comercial"

El carácter &, llamado et ó también como y comercial, es una ligadura de la conjunción copulativa latina «et» y equivale a la conjunción Española «y».

Pensé que este dato sería interesante. Saludos.

Diego M.

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