Frequently Asked Reference Questions

What is the ’@’ sign called?

Ampersand, asterisk, tilde, comma, parentheses. Most of the commonly used symbols in the English language have particular names associated with them, so we can talk about them without having to say "you know, that squiggly symbol that kind of looks like the letter S." With the emergence of the Internet, and with it, the important role that the ’@’ sign plays in e-mail addresses, this once uncommon symbol now has a lot of people wondering what to call it.

Officially, this symbol is called commercial at. Unofficially, most people seem to refer to it as the at sign or just at. Recently, there has also been a movement to call it the atmark. There are also numerous nicknames for it, including snail, curl, strudel, whorl, and whirlpool.

Interested in learning more about the origins of @, and what other countries call it? Check out these web pages:

@ – A Sign of the Times — an article by Karl-Erik Tallmo that was originally published in Swedish in Svenska Dagbladet in 1994.

Where it’s at — an article by Michael B Quinion, from his "World Wide Words" web site.

A Natural History of the @ Sign — by Scott Herron of Herron Technical Communication.

Does the symbol @ have a name? — an online discussion from the "Semantic Enigmas" section of the Guardian Unlimited web site.