AND THE WINNER IS
The symbol “&” is a ligature of the letters “et” which is Latin for “and.” The word ampersand is a conflation of the phrase “and per se and”, meaning “and [the symbol which] by itself [is] and.”
via Good Ampersand
via Shit Ampersand
Its letterform can be traced back to the first century A.D. and the Old Roman cursive, in which the letters E and T occasionally were written together to form a ligature.