History is full of wonders as long as we don’t notice some fundamental concepts, its been thousands of years and signs are playing an important role in our day to day life in various forms. To simplify the message, to minimise the size of information and to save a lot of time, we use symbols.
We encounter thousands of signs and symbols. But have you ever wondered about those symbols’ origins? And are we using them in the correct manner? If we keep connecting such doubts then we can easily form a thread of unknown things that might stretch beyond the length of China wall.
However, here at this moment, let us consider seven most popular and significant signs without which our day won’t pass.
On this way of unleashing these mysteries, let us start with the popular keyboard sign ‘&’, ampersand.
The symbol we know as the ampersand first appeared in some graffiti on a Pompeian wall around the first century A.D. It wasn’t called an “ampersand” at the time—it was just a ligature of the cursive letters “E” and “T” forming the Latin word et, which means “and.”
At first, it was created several hundred years before by Cicero’s secretary Tiro.
By the early nineteenth century, kids started inserting the phrase “and per se and” to distinguish it, and over time, this all got blended together to sound more and more like “ampersand.” The mondegreen name for the centuries-old symbol first appeared in the dictionary in 1837.
Over time, the letters ”E” and “T” have merged into the symbol we use today.
The Heart Symbol:
Though the symbolic representation is quite different from the actual picture, ‘heart’ is the word given on both occasions. However, there are several theories about the symbol’s origins, two vital theories include:
- When courting swans approach each other in the middle of a lake, their shapes merge into a shape similar to the heart symbol. In many of the world’s cultures, these birds represent love, loyalty, and devotion due to the fact that swan pairs stay together for life.
- Another hypothesis says that the heart symbol originally represented the feminine form. Supporters of this theory argue that the symbol depicts the shape of the female pelvis. The Ancient Greeks were known to attach special significance to this part of the female anatomy and even went on to construct one very special temple to the goddess Aphrodite. It was unique because it was the only temple in the world in which people worshipped the buttocks. Oh yes, you read that right!
The Bluetooth Symbol:
This symbol probably looks like nothing understandable, but the real means right there in itself. Bluetooth symbol when elaborated looks like the combination of B and H, now, for details we need to switch back to the tenth-century story when Denmark was ruled by King Harald Blåtand, a historical figure famous for uniting Danish tribes into a single kingdom.
Harald was often called “Bluetooth“ since he was a known lover of blueberries, and at least one of his teeth had a permanent blue tint.
Bluetooth technology is designed for uniting multiple devices into a single network. The symbol representing this technology is a combination of two Scandinavian runes: ”Hagall“ (or “Hagalaz”) which is the analogue of the Latin ”H,“ and ”Bjarkan“ — a rune that equals the Latin letter “B.”
These two runes from the initials of Harald Blåtand’s name. By the way, a first generation Bluetooth device was coloured blue and — yes, you’ve guessed it — resembled a tooth.
The “Power On” Symbol:
This symbol is seen everywhere even on the device we use to read this article, or be it the mobile we carry anywhere.
Despite its necessity, very few people know about its origin. As early as the 1940s, engineers used a binary system for representing specific switches, where 1 meant on and 0 meant off. In the following decades, it has transformed into a sign that features a circle (zero) and a vertical line (one).
The Peace Symbol:
This was invented in 1958 during the protests against the use of nuclear weapons. The symbol is a combination of the semaphore signals for the letters “N“ and ”D,“ standing for “Nuclear Disarmament.”
In the semaphore alphabet, the letter ”N“ is transmitted by holding two flags in an inverted ”V,” and the letter “D” is formed by holding one flag pointed straight up and the other pointed straight down. Superimposing these two signs forms the shape of the peace symbol.
The “OK” Sign:
There are several theories about where this gesture could’ve come from. Most people interpret this hand gesture as the equivalent of the words “All right”. However, it is not perceived as something positive everywhere. For instance, in France, the gesture denotes that the person at whom it is directed is a zero:
- A hypothesis states that the 7th U.S. President, Andrew Jackson, used this expression when finalising his decisions. He often wrote “All correct“ in the German manner: ”Oll correct,” or simply the abbreviation “OK.”
- Yet another theory says that the ”OK” gesture by itself is nothing other than a mudra — a ritual gesture in Buddhism and Hinduism. The sign symbolises learning, and many Buddhist artworks depict the Buddha making this gesture.
The Medical Symbol:
The symbol of medicine (a staff with wings and two snakes) was first adopted by mistake.
Switching back into the history, according to legend, the Greek god Hermes possessed a magic staff, ‘the Caduceus’, which looked precisely like the modern medical symbol. The Caduceus had the power to stop any disputes and reconcile enemies, but it had nothing to do with medicine.
And the simple truth is that, more than a hundred years ago, US military doctors confused the Caduceus with the Rod of Asclepius. Since Asclepius is the Ancient Greek god of healing and medicine, the mistake is quite understandable. Subsequently, the symbol has taken root and is now used to represent medical confidentiality.