u_top picture

From the Word Fugitives archive...

The "commercial a"

Please note: This page is a read-only archive of messages posted in the Word Fugitives conference of Post & Riposte.


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit
Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic
Topic: 3) The 'commercial 'a' ' (1 of 6), Read 61 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Barbara Wallraff (msgrammar@theatlantic.com)
Date: Wednesday, December 02, 1998 11:00 AM

Joss Randall, of Paris, France, writes: "For some time I have been trying to find the word for the well-known symbol @. In the past, it was also known as the 'commercial "a,"' because it was used to indicate so many pears or whatever at such-and-such a price. In French it is an 'arobase,' but what about in English?"

I've looked into this question more than once before but never found a satisfactory answer. I think we're going to have to coin something. Help?

TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit
Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic
Topic: 3) The 'commercial 'a' ' (2 of 6), Read 56 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Rachel Kadel-Garcia (rachel@post.harvard.edu)
Date: Wednesday, December 02, 1998 05:48 PM

I've always called it an "at sign". That's
technically a phrase, not a word, but do $
and % feel slighted by their names? (and
even in the commercial context, it is read as
"at")

rachel at post dot harvard dot ed yoo

TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit
Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic
Topic: 3) The 'commercial 'a' ' (3 of 6), Read 53 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Barbara Wallraff (msgrammar@theatlantic.com)
Date: Wednesday, December 02, 1998 06:52 PM

Rachel, that's an excellent point about $ and %. To someone thinking of & and *, it seems obvious that @ *ought* to have a "name." But maybe @ does belong in the other category. Of course, there's no reason we can't give it a new one-word name, if anyone can come up with a good one. People do keep wondering and asking.

TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit
Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic
Topic: 3) The 'commercial 'a' ' (4 of 6), Read 48 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Heidi Schroeder (zincats@aol.com)
Date: Wednesday, December 02, 1998 08:12 PM

How about "at-ostrophe"?

This is probably not etymologically back-uppable, but it's cute!

-Heidi

TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit
Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic
Topic: 3) The 'commercial 'a' ' (5 of 6), Read 36 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Michael Fischer (tsuwm@aol.com)
Date: Thursday, December 03, 1998 10:08 PM

I am seeing the "@" referred to in writing (at least informally) more and more as, simply, the "atsign" -- not that I approve.

TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit
Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic
Topic: 3) The 'commercial 'a' ' (6 of 6), Read 17 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Jason Taniguchi (jasont@ccp.ca)
Date: Monday, December 07, 1998 06:00 PM

From the Toronto Serial Diners Collective:

Yes, we all call it an "at sign": two words, not one. But we would love it if everyone would agree to call it an "atsterisk".

One Serial Diner insisted that it should be called a "flupsplat". "Why flupsplat?" I said. "Because I hate it," he replied.


Return to the
Court Record index.

Return to the Word Fugitives main page.

Copyright © 1998 by The Atlantic Monthly Company.
Cover Atlantic Unbound The Atlantic Monthly Post & Riposte Atlantic Store Search