S is the nineteenth letter in the modern Latin alphabet. Its name in English is spelled ess or occasionally es generally es- when part of a compound word, plural esses.


Proto-Semitic š Phoenician S Etruscan S Greek Sigma
Semitic Šîn ("teeth") represented a voiceless postalveolar fricative /ʃ/ (as in ship). Greek did not have this sound, so the Greek sigma (Σ) came to represent /s/. The name "sigma" probably comes from the Arabic word "samak" (fish; spine) and not "Šîn". In Etruscan and Latin, the [s] value was maintained, and only in modern languages has the letter been used to represent other sounds, such as voiceless postalveolar fricative [ʃ] in Hungarian and German (before p, t) or the voiced alveolar fricative [z] in English, French and German.

Care must be taken for incompletely anglicized words from German and proper names from that language. The trigraph "sch" is pronounced like the English digraph "sh." When S is followed either by a p or t, it is pronounced with the same "sh" sound, but when starting a word followed by a vowel, it is pronounced like the English "z," (not the German one).

An alternative form of s, ſ, called the long s or medial s, was used at the beginning or in the middle of the word; the modern form, the short or terminal s, was used at the end of the word. For example, "sinfulness" is rendered as "ſinfulneſs" using the long s. The use of the long s died out by the beginning of the 19th century, largely to prevent confusion with the minuscule f. The ligature of ſs (or ſz) became the German ess-tsett ( ß ).

In a high-school biology textbook used in the 1960s, a text discussing the discovery of cells in animal tissue by the English biologist Robert Hooke was photostatically reproduced, including the long "s." The explanation read, "The type is quaint, but once you notice that an s is often much like an f, you fhould have little trouble reading it." The long s has often been parodied in Mad Magazine, including the usage "Poor Alfred'f Almanack."

S is one of the most commonly used letters of the Latin Alphabet in the Basic English language.

Codes for computing

In Unicode the capital S is U+0053 and the lower case s is U+0073.

The ASCII code for capital S is 83 and for lowercase s is 115; or in binary 01010011 and 01110011, correspondingly.

The EBCDIC code for capital S is 226 and for lowercase s is 162.

The numeric character references in HTML and XML are "S" and "s" for upper and lower case respectively.

Similar letters and symbols


See also

For other meanings and uses of the letter "S", see S (disambiguation).

af:S als:S ar:S arc:S ast:S az:S bs:S ca:S cs:S co:S cy:S da:S de:S el:S es:S eo:S eu:S fa:S fur:S gan:S gd:S gl:S ko:S hr:S ilo:S is:S it:S he:S ka:S kw:S sw:S ht:S la:S lv:S lt:S hu:S mzn:S ms:S nah:S ja:S no:S nn:S nrm:S pl:S pt:S ro:S qu:S se:S scn:S simple:S sk:S sl:S fi:S sv:S tl:S th:S vi:S vo:S yo:S zh-yue:S bat-smg:S zh:S

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