Naming the @ Symbol

by jfjudah

We know a comma and an exclamation point when we see it. We can talk about them because everyone’s agreed on their names. But as far as I can tell, the @ symbol doesn’t have a legitimate name yet. I’d love to see the @ symbol get bona fide and proper. I mean, if the # can get a name, why can’t the @ symbol? Calling it “the at symbol” each time it’s mentioned is annoying, and calling it “the spider monkey symbol” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.

Giving symbols a name has several positive outcomes. For instance, it solidifies meaning which unifies the communicators and mitigates confusion. That’s why mathematical symbols and diacritics all have names — so we can communicate with absolute clarity. So what name does the @ have? None as far as I can tell, so let’s get to work on that.

Aterra, The @ Symbol, Ideal Sans by H&FJ

In my opinion, the name for the @ symbol should have several qualities:

  1. Soft vowel sounds, such as the ‘a’ in “at”.
  2. Clarity and simplicity: the feeling of, “That makes sense.”
  3. Seeing its current use in culture, it might be good to have it reference a location.

So I’ll start it off with a suggestion: aterra (pronounced uh-tehr’-uh).

That feels right to me — a location-based name for an important cultural and technological symbol.

Aterra. We can use it when saying “the at symbol” is too clunky.

Feel free to run with it or come up with your own. Let’s get some good suggestions out there and see what catches on.