letter of the Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet
Aa Bb Cc Dd
Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj
Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp
Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv
Ww Xx Yy Zz

Y is the twenty-fifth (number 25) letter in the English alphabet[1] and a ligature of two letter I's or J's or one I and one J. It is the only letter with two syllables. Y is pronounced "wie", "greek-ieh" or "greek-jay" or simply "greek". It is sometimes considered a vowel. In words like year, yell, and yes, Y is a consonant. In words like cry, fly, and sky, it is a vowel. Sometimes, it takes the form of the digraph Ij, Ii or Jj.

Y cursiva.gif

Especially in Afrikaans, Dutch and French, Y also has a kind with a diaeresis above it (Ÿ, ÿ).

Where it came fromEdit

Semitic, Phoenician, Greek and LatinEdit

An early Semitic version of the letter yodh.
The later Phoenician version of yodh.

Y has appeared as the Semitic letter "yodh". This was the first time it appeared in an alphabet. I and J also come from the Semitic alphabet. The Greek and Latin alphabets used the Phoenician form of this early alphabet. There are similarities to the old English letter yogh (Ȝȝ). The table shows where Y came from.

Where the English letter "Y" came from
Phoenician Greek Latin English (approximate times of changes)
Old Middle Now
    75x I → 75x/I → 75x/I/75x
    (vowel /y/)   (vowel /i/)   (vowels)
    C →
G → Ȝ → G →
consonantal   /j/   (consonant)
Þ →   /th/ -

Meanings for YEdit

  • In chemistry, Y is the symbol for yttrium.
  • In Mathematics, y is another unknown variable, used as a second unknown variable ("x" is used as the first unknown variable)


  1. "Y" Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993); "wy," op. cit.