The ampersand today is used primarily in business names, but that small character was once the 27th part of the alphabet. The shape of the character (&) predates the word ampersand by more than 1,500 years. In the first century, Roman scribes wrote in cursive, so when they wrote the Latin word “et” which means “and” they linked the e and t. Over time the combined letters came to signify the word “and” in English as well. Certain versions of the ampersand, like that in the font Caslon, clearly reveal the origin of the shape. The ampersand was originally referred to as "and" which made reciting the alphabet somewhat awkward. The end of the recitation would have been X Y Z and .... The ampersand began losing popularity in the early 1800s and was generally discontinued sometime between 1835 and 1850.