The at sign (or commertial at) is nowadays mostly known for its use in e-mail addresses.

While the sign itself is quite old, it is interesting to see what names the sign has adopted in different languages due to its recent popularity. In german it is called Klammeraffe (spider monkey) and in swedish it is named snabel a ( trunk a). There are other languages that associate animals to it, ranging from “a small freshwater snail with no tentacles” (Korean) via “little duck” (greek) and “rolled pickled herring” (Czech) to “worm, mite, or maggot” (Hungarian). an interesting list with many more examples can be found here – sometimes displaying a regional background (it is called “the earmuff” in Island).
However, the origin of the symbol is unknown. It could have evolved from a sloppy or calligraphic version of the french à.

This post is a followup to nabla.

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