A commercial at, @, also called an at symbol, an "at sign", or just at, is a symbolic abbreviation for the word at. Its formal name comes from its commercial use in invoices, as in, "7 widgets @ £2 ea. = £14". It is also known as strudel, and, rarely, each, vortex, and whorl, and INTERCAL: whirlpool, cyclone, snail, ape, cat, rose, cabbage, amphora.

Its most familiar use today is in e-mail addresses: e.g., jdoe@widget.com. It is ironic that @ has become a trendy mark of the Internet since it is a very old symbol, derived from the Latin preposition "ad" (at). Giorgio Stabile, a professor of history in Rome, has traced the symbol back to the Italian Renaissance in a Roman mercantile document signed by Francesco Lapi on May 4, 1536 (1536-05-04).

"Commercial at" in other languages:

  • In Dutch, it is called apestaartje ("little monkey-tail").
  • The French name is arobase and sometimes escargot.
  • In Spain and Portugal, it denotes a weight of about 25 pounds. The weight and the symbol are called arroba.
  • In Israeli Modern hebrew, it is known as 'shtrudl' ("Strudel").
  • Italianss call it chiocciola ("snail").
  • In German, it is Klammeraffe, meaning "clinging monkey."
  • In Danish, it is either grishale ("pig's tail") or snabel-a ("(animal's) trunk-a").
  • In Finnish, it is kissanhäntä ("cat's tail") or miukumauku ("miaow" as in the sound made by a cat).
  • In Mandarin Chinese, it is xiao laoshu (小老鼠), meaning "tiny mouse", or laoshu hao (老鼠號, "mouse sign").
  • In Polish, małpka (little monkey).
  • In Russian, sobachka (собачка) (little dog).
  • In Slovenian, it is called afna (little monkey)
  • In Swedish, it is called snabel-a, or kanelbulle ("cinnamon roll")

The commercial at corresponds to Unicode and ASCII character 64, or 0x0040.

This article (or an earlier version of it) contains material from FOLDOC, used with permission.

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