7 Well-Known Symbols Whose Meaning We Knew Nothing About

The Ampersand (“&”)

The ampersand symbol (&) represents the Latin conjunction “et“ which equals the English word ”and.“ Such ligature was first invented in Ancient Rome by Tiro, Cicero’s personal secretary. To speed up writing, Tiro invented a system of abbreviations which became known as the “Tironian Notes.”
Many centuries later, the ampersand became so popular in Europe and America that, for a long time, it enjoyed the honor of concluding the Englishalphabet. It only began to be omitted in the early twentieth century. The actual word ”ampersand“ is a contraction of the phrase ”And per se and” that teachers used to say after reciting the alphabet from “A” to “Z.“

Over time, the letters ”E” and “T” have merged into the symbol we use today.


The Heart Symbol

In this case, things are even less straightforward. Despite the popular belief that “love resides in the heart,” everyone knows that the shape of the real human heart has little in common with this symbolic representation. However, there are several theories about the symbol’s origins.

When courting swans approach each other in the middle of a lake, their shapes merge into a shape similar to the heart symbol. In many of the world’s cultures, these birds represent love, loyalty, and devotion due to the fact that swan pairs stay together for life.

Another hypothesis says that the heart symbol originally represented the feminine form. Supporters of this theory argue that the symbol depicts the shape of the female pelvis. The Ancient Greeks were known to attach special significance to this part of the female anatomy and even went on to construct one very special temple to the goddess Aphrodite. It was unique because it was the only temple in the world in which people worshipped the buttocks. Oh yes, you read that right!

There is also a theory stating that this symbol represents the shape of an ivy leaf. On their vases, the Greeks usually included ivy leaves in drawings that portrayed Dionysus — the god of winemaking and patron of passion.