“At Symbol” or “Monkey’s Tail”? How @ Is Known around the World

Well, I guess it’s official: we English-speakers have a pretty lame name for the symbol that looks like this: @. In most of our conversations, you’ll hear it referred to simply as “the ‘at’ symbol.”

Could there be any more boring way of naming such a beautiful little mark that we see, literally, dozens of times per day? I suppose it’s not much worse off than many of our other symbol names: the pound or hashtag (#); the ampersand (&); the tilda (~); or the caret (>). But at least each of those have a real name. Oh sure, officially, the “@” is called the “commercial at” but is that really any better? Believe it or not, there’s actually a movement to officially name it the atmark. Before the movement takes off, though, I say we fight for something better.

Thanks to some wonderful research and design conducted by Viking, we can see how much more fun people and languages around the world refer to the ubiquitous little @. I say we adopt one of the more colorful, metaphorical names (or, even better, come up with one ourselves–I kind of like “whirligig” or “pinwheel” as in, “my email address is curtis[whirligig]gmail.com”). But what do I know?

Here’s a taste for what it’s called around the world: