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What do They Call the at Symbol in Other Countries?

Updated Oct 02, 2010

In the United States, @ is usually spoken as "at," though it's official name is "commercial at." The at symbol, so ubiquitous today because of its use in email addresses, originated in commerce. The precise etymology of the sign is not known, but variations have been used in retail and accounting for centuries, where it's used to communicate cost per item. Now, it's not uncommon to see grocery store receipts with the at symbol used to communicate exactly the same thing: 2.45lbs Fuji Apples @ $1.99lb = $4.88 means that the unit price for Fujis is $1.99 per pound.

Since 1972 the at sign has been working double duty. Ray Tomlinson is credited with using @ to indicate the location of a user on a specific host, and the format of the email address was born. This created a new problem for non-English speakers, though. Since the word "at" and the symbol @ match so nicely in our language, English speakers may take for granted the fact that in other languages, the name for such a funny little symbol may not be so obvious.

In our continual quest to educate and inform, here is wiseGEEK's own collection of how @ translates to English from a variety of the world's languages.

Language Word Translation IMAGE
Croatian manki monkey
Czech zavinac "rollmops," a way of serving pickled herring
Danish snabel elephant's trunk
Dutch apenstaartje little monkey tail
Finnish miau, or miaumau "meow marks"
German klammeraffe spider monkey
Greek papaki duckling
Hebrew krukhit strudel
Hungarian kukac worm, mite, or maggot
Italian chioccoiola snail
Mandarin Chinese--Taiwan xiao lao shu little mouse
Norwegian grisehale pig's tail
Russian sobaka dog
Swedish kanelbulle cinnamon bun
Thai ai tua yiukyiu the wiggling worm-like character
Turkish kulak ear
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