A New York Times article points out that many languages have creative names for the @ symbol. The Dutch refer to it as a monkey’s tail. For Italians, it’s a snail. But in boring old English, we just say “at.” Let’s get inventive.
The Times piece discusses how many English Internet terms have become increasingly universal, like hashtag and WiFi. But when it comes to the little circular squiggle that’s crucial for email addresses and tagging on social media, “@” has a range of descriptive terms across the linguistic spectrum:
The Poles use a word for it that means monkey. The Dutch call it a monkey’s tail. The Czechs call it a rolled-up fish filet. The Greeks call it a duckling. In Hungarian, it is a worm. In Italian, it is a snail. In Ukrainian, it is a dog. In Taiwanese, it is a mouse. Meanwhile, in the United States, it’s technically known as the “commercial at.”
Boring! Surely we can come up with a better moniker. I always think of flowers when I see an @, because of ASCII flowers from the pre-emoji era like this rose: @}-,-`-. So I’m going to go with flower. Take that, Czech rolled-up fish filet.
What’ve you got?
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