In typography, a sans serif typeface is one that does not have small strokes — called serifs — at the ends of its letters.

1. In printing sans-serif fonts are usually used for headlines, not for body text. They have also become the standard for on-screen body text because they look less cluttered than serif fonts.

Etymology -
The word derives from the French sans, without, + the English serif, which is perhaps from the Dutch schreef, a line or a stroke.

Oxford English Dictionary -
Its first citation is from 1830:
"Lines Pica San-Serif."
(Figgins's Spec. Printing Types, 8)

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