Today, there are many different abbreviations for the phrase "et cetera", including

  • etc.
  • &c.
  • &ct.

As far as I know, the phrase was used in the classical period - in other words, it's not simply a modern-day expression. Are there any records of how Romans abbreviated "et cetera"?

  • 1
    You might want to read the Wikipedia entry for ampersand (&), especially regarding history. Ampersand was only used in cursive, so you should not expect to find it carved in a stone.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 21:25
  • @JoonasIlmavirta I didn't know that, cool. I didn't have any expectations regarding how the phrase was abbreviated, so I just gave the examples to show that there are many variants today.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 21:28
  • I remember there was a Tironian abbreviation for "et" that looked like 7, but I don't know the specifics about how it was used. Wikipedia says the "z" in viz. ("videlicet") is descended from it.
    – Asteroides
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 7:08

1 Answer 1


First of all, the history of the ampersand (deriving from a ligature of a cursive et) is too short to be relevant to Classical Latin as @JoonasIlmavirta points out.

Wikipedia lists ZC (zetera et cetera) or ZE (zetera) as abbreviations of et cetera for classical Latin.

However, as @Marc points out, the American Society of Greek and Latin Epigraphy doesn't list it in their common Latin abbreviations. (Apparently, their list is based on inscriptions that were published in the French publication L'Année épigraphique between 1888 and 1993. The inscriptions are available on Wikimedia.)

I have been able to find a number of coins from the 16th century with ZC (et cetera) as an inscription, but of course that is not Classical Latin.


  • 5
    Do you have a better source than a Wiki with no sources?
    – cmw
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 21:38
  • 6
    xkcd.com/978 -not that that is what is happening now :P
    – brianpck
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 21:42
  • @C.M.Weimer I did find other books citing ZC and ZE as abbreviations of et cetera, but so far I haven't been able to find any primary source with these abbreviations. Let me dig around a little further.
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 22:17
  • 5
    I second @C.M.Weimer. It's especially concerning that neither ZC nor ZE is recorded in the ASGLE list.
    – Marc
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 22:18

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