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Ø (minuscule: "ø"), is a vowel and a letter used in the Danish, Faroese and Norwegian languages.

The name of this letter is the same as the sound it represents (see usage). Though not its native name, among English-speaking typographers the symbol may be called a "slashed o", "o with stroke" or "Oscar".[citation needed] Although these names suggest it is a ligature or a diacritical variant of the letter o, speakers of languages which use the letter ø hold that it is not. That is, emically they perceive it as a different letter entirely.




There are at least two theories about the origin of the letter ø:

  • That it arose as a version of the ligature Œ for a diphthong spelled "oe", with the horizontal line of the "e" written across the "o".
  • That it arose in Anglo-Saxon England as an O and an I written in the same place, to represent a long close [ö] sound resulting from i-mutation of [ō]: compare Bede's Northumbrian Anglo-Saxon period spelling Coinualch for standard Cēnwealh (a man's name) (in a text in Latin). Later the letter ø disappeared from Anglo-Saxon as the Anglo-Saxon sound [ø] changed to [ē], but by then use of the letter ø had spread from England to Scandinavia.


Danish keyboard with keys for Æ, Ø, and Å. On Norwegian keyboards the Æ and Ø trade places.
  • The name of this letter in Unicode is "Latin capital/small letter O with stroke". In Unicode, as in ISO 8859-1 before it, the letters Ø and ø have the respective code points U+00D8 and U+00F8.
  • In the TeX typesetting system, the letter is produced by \o
  • On a Mac operating system using a US English-language keyboard, the letter can be typed by holding the [Option] key while typing O, or o, to yield Ø, or ø.
  • On an Amiga operating system using any keyboard map, the letter can be typed by holding the [Alt] key while typing O, or o, to yield Ø, or ø.
  • On Microsoft Windows, using the "United States-International" keyboard setting, it can be typed by holding down the Alt-Gr key and pressing "L". It can also be typed under any keyboard setting by holding down the [Alt] key while typing 0216 or 0248 on the numeric keypad, provided the system uses code page 1252 as system default. (Code page 1252 is a superset of ISO 8859-1, and 216 and 248 are the decimal equivalents of hexadecimal D8 and F8.)
  • In HTML character entity references, needed in cases where the letter is not available by ordinary coding, the codes are Ø and ø.
  • In the X Window System environment, one can produce these characters by pressing Alt-Gr and o or O, or by pressing the Multi key followed with a slash and then o or O.
  • In some systems, such as older versions of MS-DOS, the letter Ø is not part of the widely used code page 437. In Scandinavian codepages, Ø replaces the yen sign (¥) at 165, and ø replaces the ¢ sign at 162.


  • The letter "Ø" is sometimes used in mathematics as a replacement for the symbol "∅" (Unicode character U+2205), referring to the empty set as established by Bourbaki. The "∅" symbol is always drawn as a slashed circle, whereas in most typefaces the letter "Ø" is a slashed ellipse. Virtually identical is the diameter sign (Unicode character U+2300).


  • In music theory, ø is widely used as a chord label to represent a half-diminished chord. (m7b5: 1 - b3 - b5 - b7). For example, Cm7b5 would be notated as Cø.
  • In engineering drawings, the symbol ⌀ (closely resembling Ø) preceding a dimension indicates a diameter.
  • In photography, the symbol ⌀ (closely resembling Ø) represents the lens diameter, i.e. a lens with a diameter of 82 mm would be written on the lens as: ⌀ 82 mm
  • As an abbreviation for Enhedslisten, a Danish political party
  • The letter ∅ with two brackets symbolizing a double no set was used as the gang symbol for the Lords of Chaos, a self-styled teen militia. Ex. ( Ø )
  • In linguistics, a zero element (i.e. a grammatical element represented by the absence of a word) is represented by ∅, such as the difference in English between the articles "the", "a", "an", and instances where nouns are not preceded by articles, represented by ∅.
  • In Indonesian car number plates, the symbol ∅ (closely resembling Ø) is placed behind number of registration to distinguish it from number 0. For example: B 2031 ∅T, which is registered in Jakarta.
  • The ø is used as the o in "The Wørd", a regular segment on The Colbert Report.
  • In phpMyAdmin the ø is used to substitute the "mean" or "average"
  • In Audio Engineering the ø is used to represent a signal whose polarity (sometimes called phase) has been reversed.
  • Many scholars in biological and human sciences use Mø as shorthand notation for "macrophage". Whether this was a parallel invention to, or corruption of, MΦ ("phi" for "phage") is unclear.
  • The American Christian-Hardcore band Underoath uses the ∅ symbol in their logo, Underøath.
  • The Chicago based modern Artist, the∅ or ∅, goes by this symbol. [1]

See also


  1. ^ Danish and Norwegian alphabet contains a recording of a person reciting the Danish alphabet.


The basic modern 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
Letter O with diacritics
Letters using stroke sign

history palaeography derivations diacritics punctuation numerals Unicode list of letters ISO/IEC 646


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


The Latin script
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
Variations of letter O

Óó Òò Ŏŏ Ôô Ốố Ồồ Ỗỗ Ổổ Ǒǒ Öö Ȫȫ Őő Õõ Ṍṍ Ṏṏ Ȭȭ Ȯȯ Ȱȱ Øø Ǿǿ Ǫǫ Ǭǭ Ōō Ṓṓ Ṑṑ Ỏỏ Ȍȍ Ȏȏ Ơơ Ộộ Ɵɵ Œœ

Letters using stroke sign

Ⱥ Ƀƀ Ȼȼ Đđ Ɇɇ Ǥǥ Ħħ Ɨɨ Ɉɉ Ꝁꝁ Łł Øø Ᵽᵽ Ɍɍ Ŧŧ Ʉʉ Ɏɏ Ƶƶ Ꝥꝥ



  1. A letter O with a stroke. Used as vowel in some Scandinavian alphabets.



  1. (mathematics) A symbol for the empty or null set: the set with no elements.
  2. (linguistics) A symbol for a null form commonly used instead of : one that is never expressed in speech or writing, but that appears to play a grammatical role; for example, English may be said to have a usual plural suffix -s and a usual singular suffix .

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