it means at -or- it means reply to

(pronounced: at -or- the at sign -or- the at symbol)

The "at" sign or "@" symbol is now such an integral part of the Internet, it deserves special recognition. Located on top of the "2" on most computer keyboards (using the shift command), it is primarily used to separate the domain name and the user name in an e-mail address. For example, info@netlingo.com is read (and pronounced) as "info at netlingo dot com." NOTE: It is not pronounced "and" nor is it the ampersand symbol which instead looks like &.

Computer engineer Ray Tomlinson is credited with inventing the @ symbol for e-mail in late 1971, when he grappled with how to properly address what would be history's very first e-mail. Many languages have developed colloquial names for the @ sign which, for some reason, have food or animal references. Check it out:

  • In German, it is frequently called Klammeraffe, 'spider monkey' (you can imagine the monkey's tail).
  • In South Africa, it means 'monkey's tail.'
  • The Danish refer to it as grisehale, 'pig's tail' but more commonly call it snabel, 'an elephant's trunk' and also refer to it as the 'alpha sign.'
  • The Swedish refer to it as snabel-a (the name recommended by the Swedish Language Board) which also means 'an elephant's trunk.' Another common Swedish name is kanelbulle, which means 'cinnamon bun', which is rolled up in a similar way.
  • The Dutch use apestaart or apestaartje, '(little) monkey's tail,' this turns up in Friesian as apesturtsje and in Finnish in the form apinanhanta.
  • The Finnish also use kissanhanta, which means 'cat's tail' and miukumauku, which means 'the miaow sign.'
  • In French it is known as arobase or arrobe, which means 'little snail.'
  • In Hungarian it is kukac, which means 'worm' or 'maggot.'
  • In Russian it refers to 'little dog.'
  • In Poland it refers to 'little cat' or 'pig's ear.'
  • In Serbian is is majmun, which means 'monkey', with a similar term in Bulgarian.
  • In Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia it's called the 'crazy.'
  • Both Spanish and Portuguese use arroba, which derives from a unit of weight.
  • In Thai, the name transliterates as 'the wiggling worm-like character.'
  • Czechs often call it zavinac which is a 'rolled-up herring' or 'rollmop' it is also known as 'pickled herring.'
  • The most-used Hebrew term is 'strudel,' from the famous Viennese rolled-up apple sweet.
  • The Turks lovingly describe it as an 'ear.'
  • In Greece, it is 'little duck.'
  • In Mandarin Chinese, it is the 'mouse sign.'

Online jargon, also known as text message shorthand, used in texting, online chat, instant messaging, email, blogs, and newsgroup postings, these types of abbreviations are also referred to as chat acronyms

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NetLingo Classification: Acronyms and Text Message

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