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Basic Latin alphabet

L is the twelfth letter of the basic modern Latin alphabet. Its name in English is spelled el or occasionally ell (pronounced /ɛl/).[1]



The letter L is derived from the Phoenician crook or goad which stood for /l/. This originally may have been based on an Egyptian hieroglyph that was adapted by Semites for alphabetic purposes. The Greek letter Lambda Λ (upper case) or λ (lower case), as well as the equivalent Etruscan and Latin letters, represent the same sound as the Semitic letter.

Egyptian hieroglyph `wt Proto-Semitic L Phoenician L Etruscan L Greek Lambda


In English, L can have several values, depending on whether it occurs before or after a vowel. The alveolar lateral approximant (the sound which the IPA uses the lowercase [l] to represent) occurs before a vowel, as in lip or please, while the velarized alveolar lateral approximant (IPA [ɫ]) occurs in bell and milk (see Dark L). This velarization does not occur in many European languages that use L; it is also a factor making the pronunciation of L difficult for users of languages that either lack, or have different values, for L, such as Japanese or some southern dialects of Chinese.

L can occur before almost any plosive, fricative, or affricate in English. Common digraphs include LL, which has a value identical to L in English, but has the separate value voiceless alveolar lateral fricative (IPA /ɬ/) in Welsh, where it can appear in an initial position.

A palatal lateral approximant or palatal L (IPA /ʎ/) occurs in many languages, and is represented by GL in Italian, LL in Spanish and Catalan, LH in Portuguese, and Ļ in Latvian.

In English writing, L is often silent in such words as walk or could (its presence modifies other letters' sounds, i.e. 'wak' might be more likely to be pronounced such that it would rhyme with 'back').

Codes for computing

Alternative representations of L
NATO phonetic Morse code
Lima ·–··
Signal flag Flag semaphore Braille

In Unicode the capital L is codepoint U+004C and the lowercase l is U+006C. In some fonts, a lowercase l may be difficult to distinguish from a 1(one) or an uppercase letter I(i). A more stylized version based on the handwritten ℓ is sometimes used - this is often used as a suffix on a number to represent litres. Its codepoint is U+2113 and its numeric character reference is "ℓ". Capital I(i) can also be hard to distinguish from a lowercase l(L), as many fonts use a vertical bar for both of these characters. In recent times, many new fonts have curved the lowercase form to the right and is increasingly common, especially on European road signs and advertisements.

The ASCII code for capital L is 76 and for lowercase l is 108; or in binary 01001100 and 01101100, correspondingly.

The EBCDIC code for capital L is 211 and for lowercase l is 147.

The numeric character references in HTML and XML are "L" and "l" for upper and lower case respectively.

See also


  1. "L" Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989) Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged. (1993); "el", "ell", op. cit.
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 L with diacritics
Two-letter combinations
Letter-digit & Digit-letter combinations
   L0L1L2L3L4L5L6L7L8L9    0L1L2L3L4L5L6L7L8L9L   

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 L

Ĺĺ Ľľ Ļļ Ḹḹ Ḽḽ Ḻḻ Łł Ŀŀ Ƚƚ Ⱡⱡ Ɫɫ ɬ ɭ ȴ ʟ LJLjlj LJLjlj

Letters using dot sign


lower case (upper case )

  1. The letter l with a dot below.

Simple English

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

L is the twelfth (number 12) letter in the English alphabet.

Meanings for L

  • For clothing, L sometimes means "large size".
  • In Roman numerals, L means the number fifty.
  • The city of Chicago, Illinois has an elevated train called the "Chicago 'L'".
  • L is also the first letter that the famous Luke Bynt ever said
  • A character from the manga and anime Death Note.
  • In Wheel of Fortune, L is one of the six letters given to any contestant participating in the "Bonus Round."
  • L is the symbol for litre, a unit of volume.

Citable sentences

Up to date as of December 22, 2010

Here are sentences from other pages on Town, which are similar to those in the above article.

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