VV or v is the 22nd and fifth-to-last letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its name in English is vee (pronounced ), plural vees.
HistoryThe letter V 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 as in "moon". This was later fronted to , 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 sound, as well as the consonantal . Thus, num—originally spelled NVM—was pronounced and via was pronounced . From the 1st century AD on, depending on Vulgar Latin dialect, consonantal developed into (kept in Spanish), then later to .
During the Late Middle Ages, two minuscule glyphs developed which were both used for sounds including and modern . 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.
LetterIn the International Phonetic Alphabet, represents the voiced labiodental fricative. See Help:IPA.
In English, V is unusual in that it has not traditionally been 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 "divvy up" and "skivvies". 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. C also cannot be used in the American version.
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
In Japanese, V is often called "bui" (ブイ), possibly due to the difficulty of typing "vi" (ヴィ or ヸ) or even "vui" (ヴイ), an approximation of the English name which substitutes the voiced bilabial plosive for the voiced labiodental fricative (which does not exist in native Japanese phonology) and differentiates it from "bī" (ビー), the Japanese name of the letter B. 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 ).
Use in writing systemsIn most languages which use the Latin alphabet, 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 , that is, or . In Corsican, it is pronounced , , or , depending on the position in the word and the sentence. In contemporary German, it is pronounced in most loan-words while in native German words, it is always pronounced . In standard Dutch it is traditionally pronounced as but in many regions it is pronounced as in some or all positions.
In Native American languages of North America (mainly Muskhogean and Iroquoian), represents a nasalized central vowel, /ə̃/.
In Chinese Pinyin, while is not used, the letter is used by most input methods to enter letter , 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 is mostly used in loanwords, such as veidhlín from English violin. However the sound appears naturally in Irish when /b/ (or /m/) is lenited or "softened", represented in the orthography by (or "mh"), so that bhí is pronounced , an bhean (the woman) is pronounced , etc. For more information, see Irish phonology.
This letter is not used in the Polish alphabet, where is spelled with the letter [[W|]] instead, following the convention of German. In German, the letter sounds like /f/.
Other systemsIn the 19th century, was sometimes used to transcribe a palatal click, , a function since partly taken over by .
Descendants and related letters in the Latin alphabet
Ancestors and siblings in other alphabets
Ligatures and abbreviations
Other representationsV 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).