symbols, acronyms & abbreviations



arroba ? – present. 


anifora The earliest known record of its use is that found by Giorgio Stabile in a letter written by a Florentine merchant on 4 May 1536.

How did the symbol for a unit become part of internet urls?

In 1885, the @ symbol appeared on the Underwood typewriter keyboard.

In 1971, during the development of the mail system in ARPAnet, Ray Tomlinson decided to distinguish between local addressees and those at some other host. The external addresses were named by inserting @ before the name of the "foreign" host. He chose the @ symbol because it was available on the keyboard, would not be expected to occur in the names of persons or domains and from the appropriateness of the commercial sense of "at".

Spanish speaking teenagers began to use the character in text messaging to create gender-free words: “Holla [email protected]!”

Most of these are taken from a survey conducted on The Linguist List by Karen Steffen Chung; see

Locale/Language  Word Meaning
Afrikaans aapstert monkey's tail
Catalan arrova from the unit of measure
China (Cantonese) at  
Slovak zavinàc rollmops (rolled pickled fish)
Czech zavinác  
Danish snabel-a (elephant's) trunk-a
grisehale pig's tail
Dutch at  
apestaartje or apestaart monkey's tail
a-krul a-curl
English at  
round at proofreader use
Finnish miau merkki meow mark
French arobase  
a escargot snail
a enroule  
a commercial  
Frisian apesturtsje monkey's tail
German Klammeraffe spider monkey
Ohr ear
Hebrew shtrudel strudel
shablul snail
Hungarian kukac maggot
Italian chiocciola snail
Japanese atto maaku at mark
Korean dalphaengi snail
Polish malpa monkey
kotek little cat
ucho s'wini pig's ear
Portuguese arroba from the unit
Romanian la at
Russian sobachka little dog
Spanish arroba a unit
Swedish kanelbulle cinnamon roll
snabel-A (elephant's) trunk a

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