monogram

monogram

[mon-uh-gram]
monogram [Gr.,=single letter], symbol of a name or names, consisting typically of a letter or several letters worked together. A famous monogram is that of Christ, consisting of X (chi) and P (rho), the first two letters of Christ in Greek. The monogram has been commonly used by artists (e.g., Dürer), monarchs (e.g., E.R. for Elizabeth II), companies, societies, and others. Bridal monograms and monograms on clothing, silverware, jewelry, seals, and letterheads are common.

Originally a cipher consisting of a single letter, later a design or mark consisting of two or more letters intertwined. The letters thus interlaced may be either all the letters of a name or the initial letters of the given names and surname of a person for use on notepaper, seals, or elsewhere. Many early Greek and Roman coins bear the monograms of rulers or towns. Most famous is the sacred monogram, which is formed by the conjunction of the first two Greek letters of ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ (Christ), usually with the α (alpha) and ω (omega) of the Apocalypse on each side of it. The Middle Ages were extremely prolific in inventing ciphers for ecclesiastical, artistic, and commercial use. Related devices are the colophons used for identification by publishers and printers, the hallmarks of goldsmiths and silversmiths, and the logos adopted by corporations.

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A monogram is a motif made by overlapping or combining two or more letters or other graphemes to form one symbol. Monograms are often made by combining the initials of an individual or a company, used as recognizable symbols or logos. A series of uncombined initials is properly referred to as a cypher and is not a monogram, although ciphers are frequently referred to as monograms.

A monogram may be a craftsman's signature on pieces of art such as sculptures and pieces of furniture, especially when the guilds enforced measures against unauthorized participation in the trade.

An individual's monogram is often a very fancy piece of art for adorning luggage, clothing, and so forth.

Monograms of the names of monarchs are used as part of the insignia of public organizations in kingdoms, such as on police badges. This indicates a connection to the ruler.

Monograms like the interrobang are used as letters, punctuation, and the like, and are not used for companies.

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