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V v
(See below)
Writing cursive forms of V
Writing systemLatin script
TypeAlphabetic and Logographic
Language of originLatin language
Phonetic usage[v]
Unicode codepointU+0056, U+0076
Alphabetical position22
Time period~-700 to present
Descendants • U
 • W



Transliteration equivalentsY, U, W
Variations(See below)
Other letters commonly used withv(x)

V, or v, is the twenty-second and fifth-to-last letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its name in English is vee (pronounced /ˈv/), plural vees.[1]


Late Renaissance or early Baroque design of a V, from 1627
Ancient Corinthian vase depicting Perseus, Andromeda and Ketos. The inscriptions denoting the depicted persons are written in an archaic form of the Greek alphabet. Perseus (Greek: ΠΕΡΣΕΥΣ) is inscribed as ΣVΕΣΡΕΠ (from right to left), using V to represent the vowel [u].

The letter V comes from the Semitic letter Waw, as do the modern letters F, U, W, and Y.[2] 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 was later fronted to [y], the front rounded vowel spelled "ü" in German.

In Latin, a stemless variant shape of the upsilon was borrowed in early times as V — either directly from the Western Greek alphabet or from the Etruscan alphabet as an intermediary — to represent the same /u/ sound, as well as the consonantal /w/, num — originally spelled NVM — was pronounced /num/ and via was pronounced [ˈwia]. From the 1st century AD on, depending on Vulgar Latin dialect, consonantal /w/ developed into /β/ (kept in Spanish), then later to /v/.

During the Late Middle Ages, two minuscule glyphs developed which were both used for sounds including /u/ and modern /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 "valour" and "excuse" appeared as in modern printing, "have" and "upon" were printed as "haue" and "vpon". The first distinction between the letters "u" and "v" is recorded in a Gothic script from 1386, where "v" preceded "u". By the mid-16th century, the "v" form was used to represent the consonant and "u" the vowel sound, giving us the modern letter "u". Capital and majuscule "U" was not accepted as a distinct letter until many years later.[3]


In the International Phonetic Alphabet, /v/ represents the voiced labiodental fricative. See Help:IPA.

In English, special rules of orthography normally apply to the letter V:

  • Traditionally, V is not doubled to indicate a short vowel, the way, for example, P is doubled to indicate the difference between "super" and "supper". However, that is changing with newly coined words, such as savvy, "divvy up" and "skivvies".
  • Barring the word of, a word that ends in a v sound is spelled ve regardless of the sound of the vowel before it. This rule does not apply to transliterations of Slavic and Hebrew words, such as Kiev, or to words that started out as abbreviations, such as sov for sovereign.
  • The short u sound is spelled o, not u, before the letter v. This originated with a mediaeval scribal practice designed to increase legibility by avoiding too many vertical strokes (minims) in a row.

Like J, K, Q, X, and Z, V is not used very frequently in English. It is the sixth least frequently used letter in the English language, with a frequency of about 1.03% in words. V is the only letter that cannot be used to form an English two-letter word in the Australian version of the game of Scrabble.[4] C also cannot be used in the American version.[5]

The letter appears frequently in the Romance languages, where it is the first letter of the second person plural pronoun and (in Italian) the stem of the imperfect form of most verbs.

Name in other languages

  • Classical Latin: V [uː] is the name for both its use as a consonant and as a vowel. Chiefly in its role of a consonant and where the context calls for it, V (or rather its sound) was sometimes called by Roman grammarians [wau̯] (Latin: VAV), this being a name for the digamma (Ϝ); indeed, Roman grammarians commonly equated the sound of the consonantal V to that of the Aeolic digamma (Latin: digamma Aeolicum, digammon Aeolicum, digamma Aeolica) and would sometimes directly call the consonantal V a digamma. However, in general, the letter, wherever it occurred, was called [uː].
  • Catalan: ve, pronounced [ˈve]; in dialects that lack contrast between /v/ and /b/, the letter is called ve baixa [ˈbe ˈbajʃə] "low B/V".
  • Czech: ['vɛː]
  • French: ['ve]
  • German: Vau [ˈfaʊ]
  • Italian: vi [ˈvi] or vu [ˈvu]
  • Polish: fał ['faw]
  • Portuguese: [ˈve]
  • Spanish: uve [ˈuβe] is recommended, but ve [ˈbe] is traditional. If V is pronounced in the second way, it would have the same pronunciation as the letter B in Spanish (i.e. [ˈbe] after pause or nasal sound, otherwise [ˈβe]);[6] thus further terms are needed to distinguish ve from be. In some countries it is called ve corta, ve baja, ve pequeña, ve chica or ve labiodental.

In Japanese, V is called a variety of names originating in English, most commonly ブイ [bɯi] or [bui], but less nativized variants, violating to an extent the phonotactics of Japanese, of ヴィー [viː], ヴイ [vɯi] or [vui], and ヴィ [vi] are also used. The phoneme /v/ in Japanese is used properly only in loanwords, where the preference for either /v/ or /b/ depends on many factors; in general, words that are perceived to be in common use tend toward /b/.

Pronunciation and use

Pronunciations of Vv
Language Dialect(s) Pronunciation (IPA) Environment Notes
Alabama /ə̃/
Catalan Central /b/
Most dialects /v/
Cayuga /ə̃/
Dutch Some dialects /f/
Standard /v/
English /v/
Galician /b/ Usually
/β/ After vowels, l, or r
German Standard /f/
Indonesian /f/
Italian /v/
Irish // After i, or before e or i
Koasati /ə̃/
Malay /v/
Mandarin Standard /y/ Pinyin latinization; informal replacement for <ü>
Mikasuki /ə̃/
Spanish [β] Usually
/β/ [note 1]
Tuscarora /ə̃/

In most languages which use the Latin alphabet, ⟨v⟩ has a voiced bilabial or labiodental sound. In English, it is a voiced labiodental fricative. In most dialects of Spanish, it is pronounced the same as ⟨b⟩, that is, [b] or [β̞]. In Corsican, it is pronounced [b], [v], [β] or [w], depending on the position in the word and the sentence. In contemporary German, it is pronounced [v] in most loan-words while in native German words, it is always pronounced [f]. In standard Dutch it is traditionally pronounced as [v] but in many regions it is pronounced as [f] in some or all positions.

In Native American languages of North America (mainly Muskhogean and Iroquoian), ⟨v⟩ represents a nasalized central vowel, /ə̃/.

In Chinese Pinyin, while ⟨v⟩ is not used, the letter ⟨v⟩ is used by most input methods to enter letter ⟨ü⟩, which most keyboards lack (Romanised Chinese is a popular method to enter Chinese text). Informal romanizations of Mandarin Chinese use V as a substitute for the close front rounded vowel /y/, properly written ü in pinyin and Wade–Giles.

In Irish, the letter ⟨v⟩ is mostly used in loanwords, such as veidhlín from English violin. However the sound [v] appears naturally in Irish when /b/ (or /m/) is lenited or "softened", represented in the orthography by ⟨bh⟩ (or "mh"), so that bhí is pronounced [vʲiː], an bhean (the woman) is pronounced [ən̪ˠ ˈvʲan̪ˠ], etc. For more information, see Irish phonology.

This letter is not used in the Polish alphabet, where /v/ is spelled with the letter ⟨w⟩ instead, following the convention of German. In German, the letter ⟨v⟩ sounds like /f/.

Other systems

In the 19th century, ⟨v⟩ was sometimes[when?] used to transcribe a palatal click, /ǂ/, a function since partly taken over by ⟨ç⟩.[citation needed]

Related characters

Descendants and related letters in the Latin alphabet

  • U u : Latin letter U, originally the same letter as V
  • W w : Latin letter W, descended from V/U
  • Ỽ ỽ : Middle Welsh V
  • V with diacritics: Ṽ ṽ Ṿ ṿ Ʋ ʋ [7]
  • IPA-specific symbols related to V: ʋ
  • ᶹ : Modifier letter small v with hook is used in phonetic transcription[7]
  • Ʌ ʌ ᶺ: Turned v
  • ⱴ : V with curl
  • Uralic Phonetic Alphabet-specific symbols related to V:[8]

Ancestors and siblings in other alphabets

  • 𐤅: Semitic letter Waw, from which the following symbols originally derive
    • Υ υ : Greek letter Upsilon, from which V derives
      • Y y : Latin letter Y, which, like V, also derives from Upsilon (but was taken into the alphabet at a later date)
      • Ѵ ѵ : Cyrillic letter izhitsa, also descended from Upsilon
      • У у : Cyrillic letter u, also descended from Upsilon via the digraph of omicron and upsilon
        • Ү ү : Cyrillic letter Ү, descended from У and izhitsa and used in the scripts for languages in the former Soviet Union and currently the Russian Federation, as well as in Mongolian. Most commonly it represents /y/ or /ʏ/.

Ligatures and abbreviations

Computing codes

Character information
Preview V v
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 86 U+0056 118 U+0076
UTF-8 86 56 118 76
Numeric character reference &#86; &#x56; &#118; &#x76;
EBCDIC family 229 E5 165 A5
ASCII 1 86 56 118 76
1 Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.

Other representations

V is the symbol for vanadium. It is number 23 on the periodic table. Emerald derives its green coloring from either vanadium or chromium.

v, v., and vs can also be used as an abbreviation for the word versus when between two or more competing items (Ex: Brown v. Board of Education).

NATO phonetic Morse code
About this sound▄▄▄▄▄
ICS Victor.svg

Semaphore Victor.svg

Sign language V.svg ⠧
Signal flag Flag semaphore American manual alphabet (ASL fingerspelling) Braille dots-1236
Unified English Braille

See also


  1. the Spanish language phoneme /β/ has two main allophones; in most environments it is pronounced [β̞] but after a pause or a nasal it is most typically [b]. See Αllοphοnes οf /b d g/ in Spanish phοnοlοgy for a mοre thοrοugh discussiοn.


  1. "V", Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993); "vee", op. cit.
  2. "Letter V". Behind the Type. Archived from the original on 20 November 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  3. Pflughaupt, Laurent (2008). Letter by Letter: An Alphabetical Miscellany. trans. Gregory Bruhn. Princeton Architectural Press. pp. 123–124. ISBN 978-1-56898-737-8. Archived from the original on 2013-05-10. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
  4. "2-Letter Words with Definitions". Australian Scrabble Players Association (ASPA). 8 May 2007. Archived from the original on 5 March 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  5. Hasbro staff (2014). "Scrabble word lists:2-Letter Words". Hasbro. Archived from the original on 2014-04-07. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  6. Díez Losada, Fernando (2004). La tribuna del idioma (in español). Editorial Tecnologica de CR. p. 176. ISBN 978-9977-66-161-2.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Constable, Peter (2004-04-19). "L2/04-132 Proposal to add additional phonetic characters to the UCS" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-10-11. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  8. Everson, Michael; et al. (2002-03-20). "L2/02-141: Uralic Phonetic Alphabet characters for the UCS" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-02-19. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  9. Ruppel, Klaas; Rueter, Jack; Kolehmainen, Erkki I. (2006-04-07). "L2/06-215: Proposal for Encoding 3 Additional Characters of the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-07-06. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  10. "Roman Liturgy Fonts containing the response and versicle characters – Roman Liturgy". www.romanliturgy.org. Archived from the original on 2016-07-23. Retrieved 2016-06-24.
  11. Everson, Michael; Baker, Peter; Emiliano, António; Grammel, Florian; Haugen, Odd Einar; Luft, Diana; Pedro, Susana; Schumacher, Gerd; Stötzner, Andreas (2006-01-30). "L2/06-027: Proposal to add Medievalist characters to the UCS" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-09-19. Retrieved 2018-03-24.

External links

  • Media related to Lua error in Module:Commons_link at line 64: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value). at Wikimedia Commons
  • The dictionary definition of V at Wiktionary
  • The dictionary definition of v at Wiktionary