Z

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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 cursiva.gif

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 | change source]

The letter is said as either zed' /ˈzɛd/ or zee. The first way of saying it comes from the Greek zeta. In American English, its name is zee /ˈz/, because it comes from a late 17th century English speech.[1]

Where it came from[change | change source]

Phoenician
zayin
Etruscan
Z
Greek
zeta
PhoenicianZ-01.png EtruscanZ-01.svg Zeta uc lc.svg

Semitic[change | change source]

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 | change source]

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 | change source]

In Etruscan, Z may have been /ts/.

Latin[change | change source]

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 | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. One early use of "zee": Lye, Thomas (1969) [2nd ed., London, 1677]. A new spelling book, 1677. Menston, (Yorks.) Scolar P. p. 24. LCCN 70-407159. Zee Za-cha-ry, Zion, zeal