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

Z is the twenty-sixth (number 26) and last letter in the English alphabet. The small letter, z, is used as a lowercase consonant. Z is not used much. It is the most rarely used letter in the English language. The same letter of the Greek alphabet is named zeta.

How it is said change

The letter is said as zed /ˈzɛd/. The first way of saying it comes from the Greek zeta. Even in American English, Z is given the nickname "zee" /ˈz/, because it comes from a late 17th century English speech.[1]

Where it came from change


Semitic change

The name of the Semitic symbol was zayin and was the seventh letter. It might have meant "weapon". It could have helped form English and French's z.

Greek change

The Greek form of Z was a close copy of the Phoenician symbol I. It stayed like this for a long time. The Greeks called it zeta, a new name made from the Greek letters eta (η) and theta (θ).

Etruscan change

In Etruscan, Z may have been /ts/.

Latin change

In Old Latin, /z/ (written s) became /r/ and the symbol for /z/ became useless. It was taken away from the alphabet by Appius Claudius Caecus, and a new letter, G, was put in.

In the 1st century BC, Z was put in the alphabet again at the end of the Latin alphabet. This was done to accurately represent the sound of the Greek zeta. The letter Z appeared only in Greek words, and is the only letter besides Y that the Romans took from Greek.

Meanings for Z change

References change

  1. One early use of "zee": Lye, Thomas (1969) [2nd ed., London, 1677]. A new spelling book, 1677. Menston, (Yorks.) Scolar P. p. 24. Zee Za-cha-ry, Zion, zeal