V, 22d letter of the alphabet (see U). It is a usual symbol for a voiced labiodental spirant, as in the English vat. In Roman numerals it corresponds to Arabic 5. In chemistry V is the symbol of the element vanadium.

V is the twenty-second letter in the modern Latin alphabet. Its name in English is spelled vee or occasionally ve ().

The letter

The letter V ultimately comes from the Semitic letter Waw, as do the modern letters F, U, W, and Y. See F for details.

In Greek, the letter "upsilon" (Υ) was adapted from waw to represent, at first, the vowel /u/ as in "moon". This later developed to /y/, the vowel spelled ü in German.

In Latin, it was borrowed in early times as V (without the stem) to represent the same /u/ sound, as well as the consonantal /w/. Thus, num — or, as originally spelled, NVM — was pronounced "noom" (/num/) and via / VIA was pronounced "wee-a" (/wia/. From the first century A.D. on, depending on Vulgar Latin dialect, consonantal /w/ developed into /β/, then later to /v/.

In Roman numerals, the letter V is used to represent the number 5. It was used because it resembled the convention of counting by notches carved in wood, with every fifth notch double-cut to form a "V".

During the late Middle Ages, two forms of "v" developed, which were both used for modern u and v. The pointed form "v" was written at the beginning of a word, while a rounded form "u" was used in the middle or end, regardless of sound. So whereas valor and excuse appeared as in modern printing, "have" and "upon" were printed haue and vpon. Eventually, in the 1700s, to differentiate between the consonant and vowel sounds, the "v" form was used to represent the consonant, and "u" the vowel sound, giving us the modern letter "u". Capital "U" appeared at this time; previously, V was used in all cases. Initially, once the letters 'u' and 'v' were established as separate letters, 'v' preceded 'u' in the alphabet; in modern times, this order has been reversed.

In the IPA, /v/ represents the voiced labiodental fricative. See .

Similarly to J, K, Q, W and Y, V is not used very frequently in the Basic English Language. However, it appears frequently in the Spanish and French languages.

Other names

  • French:
  • Italian: vi or vu
  • Spanish: uve (recommended) / ve (traditional). In some countries it is called ve corta, ve baja, ve pequeña, or ve chica. These further terms are needed to distinguish ve with be, the letter B, as are both pronounced /be/ in many dialects of Spanish (Mexico is a notable exception).
  • Portuguese:
  • German, Polish: fau

In Japanese, V is often called "bui" (ブイ). This name is an approximation of the English name which substitutes the voiced bilabial plosive for the voiced labiodental fricative (which doesn't exist in native Japanese phonology) and differentiates it from "bī" (ビー), the Japanese name of the letter B. The sound can be written with the relatively recently developed katakana character vu , though in practice the pronunciation is usually not the strictly labiodental fricative found in English. Moreover, some words are more often spelled with the b equivalent character instead of vu due to the long-time use of the word without it (e.g. "Violin" is more often found as than as due partly to inertia, and to some extent due to the more native Japanese sound).

In Chinese Hanyu Pinyin, letter V is missing, as there is no sound [v] in Standard Mandarin but the letter “v” is used by most input methods to enter letter “ü”, since it’s missing on most keyboards. Romanised Chinese is a popular method to enter Chinese text phonetically.

In Irish Language the letter v is sometimes used in loan words from English, such as Vean Van. However the sound "Ví" appears naturally in Irish when the letter B is lenitised or softened, i.e. [b] followed by a h forms a [v] so "Bhí" is pronounced Vee, "An Bhean"(the woman) is pronounced van, et cetera.

Codes for computing

In Unicode the capital V is codepoint U+0056 and the lowercase v is U+0076.

The ASCII code for capital V is 86 and for lowercase v is 118; or in binary 01010110 and 01110110, respectively.

The EBCDIC code for capital V is 229 and for lowercase v is 165.

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

See also


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

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