The name did not appear until the 1830s when "&" was the 27th letter of the English alphabet. The mark concluded the alphabet with "X, Y, Z, and per se and" with "and per se" meaning "and by itself." This final phrase was slurred by English school children during recitation and reborn as "ampersand."
The sign may also precede lists or summations or even help to categorize numbers, like separating hours from minutes as in "5:30." The word comes from the Greek kolon meaning "limb" or a "part of verse."
In this example the two clauses would be perfectly permissible sentences on their own, but because they both relate to the same person and the same affection for felines, they are appropriately linked with a semi-colon. The addition of the prefix semi-, meaning "part," to the Greek root kolon meaning "part of verse" makes the semi-colon quite literally a part of a part.
The mark was invented by the Italian printer Aldus Manutius in the late 1400s, a time when the slash mark signified a pause. Manutius lowered the slash mark in relation to the line of text and curved it slightly around the final letter. This freed the slash mark to indicate a comparison and simultaneously gave birth to the comma.
From the Greek word elleipsein meaning "to fall short," this punctuation mark indicates an omission or suppression of letters or words. Oftentimes readers can infer which terms are replaced by the ellipsis, but in certain settings there's just no way to know.
The word came to English in the late 1500s as a direct loan from the Middle French apostrophe meaning "aversion" or "turning away." Following its induction into English, the symbol enjoyed extreme popularity in written text, the result of a centuries-long trend to imitate French culture.
Before mechanized printing, quotations were indicated by identifying the speaker or using a different typeface, like italics. At the time single quotation marks indicated a pithy comment or quip. But by the 1740s, mechanical printing had taken off and printers adopted quotation marks to indicate speech.
The term is derived from the Ancient Greek hypo + hen literally translated as "under one."
Historically, the mark was used to unite words or syllables, most likely indicating the way phrases were meant to be sung by Greek and Roman bards. Hyphens are still used today in choral notation to indicate connected syllables.
There is much speculation as to the origin of the question mark, but most attribute its invention to Alcuin of York, leading scholar and teacher in the court of Charlemagne.
In the 8th century, Alcuin indicated questions in his writing with a mark like "a lightning flash, striking from left to right," according to language writer Lynne Truss.
After centuries of hurried handwriting, the "i" became a line, placed over the "o," written quickly as a dot. The exclamation point was introduced into English in the 15th century as a "note of admiration."
In the case of the interrobang, both word and symbol are portmanteaus in that the word bang was used for "exclamation point" in 1950s secretarial vernacular. Similarly, the question mark is also known as the "interrogation mark."
The beginnings of punctuation lie in classical rhetoric--the art of oratory. Back in ancient Greece and Rome, when a speech was prepared in writing, marks were used to indicate where--and for how long--a speaker should pause.
These pauses (and eventually the marks themselves) were named after the sections they divided. The longest section was called a period, defined by Aristotle as "a portion of a speech that has in itself a beginning and an end." The shortest pause was a comma (literally, "that which is cut off"), and midway between the two was the colon--a "limb," "strophe," or "clause."