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Basic Latin alphabet

R is the eighteenth letter of the modern Latin alphabet. Its name in English (pronounced /ɑr/) is spelled ar;[1] its name in Hiberno-English is or (/ɔr/).



Egyptian hieroglyph R Proto-Semitic R Phoenician R Etruscan R Greek Rho Later Etruscan R

The original Semitic letter was probably inspired by an Egyptian hieroglyph for "head", pronounced t-p in Egyptian, but it was used for /r/ by Semites because in their language, the word for "head" was Rêš (also the name of the letter). It developed into Greek Ρ ῥῶ (Rhô) and Latin R. It is likely that some Etruscan and Western Greek forms of the letter added the extra stroke to distinguish it from a later form of the letter P.

The minuscule (lower-case) form of r developed through several variations on the capital form. In handwriting it was common not to close the bottom of the loop but continue into the leg, saving an extra pen stroke. The loop-leg stroke shortened into the simple arc used today. Another minuscule, r rotunda (ꝛ), kept the loop-leg stroke but dropped the vertical stroke. It fell out of use around the 18th century.


The letter R represents a rhotic consonant in many languages, as shown in the table below. The International Phonetic Alphabet uses several variations of the letter to represent the different rhotic consonsants; [r] represents the alveolar trill.

Alveolar trill [r] Listen Arabic, Armenian, Bulgarian, some dialects of British English or in emphatic speech, Finnish, German in some dialects, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese in emphatic male speech, Lithuanian, Latin, Norwegian, Polish, Catalan, Portuguese (traditional European form), Romanian, Russian, Scots, Spanish and Albanian 'rr', Swedish, Welsh, in standard Dutch, Galician
Alveolar approximant [ɹ] Listen English (most varieties), Dutch in some Dutch dialects (in specific positions of words), Faroese
Alveolar flap / Alveolar tap [ɾ] Listen Greek, Hindi 'र', Korean 'ㄹ' (also realised as [l] or [ɭ]), Polish, Portuguese, Catalan, Spanish and Albanian 'r', Turkish, Italian, Quechua, Galician, Leonese
Alveolar lateral flap [ɺ] Listen Japanese
Voiced retroflex fricative [ʐ] Listen Mandarin as an allophone, Spanish used as an allophone of [r] in some South American accents.
Retroflex approximant [ɻ] Listen some varieties of American English, Mandarin as an allophone
Retroflex flap [ɽ] Listen Hindi 'ड़', sometimes Scottish English
Uvular trill [ʀ] Listen German stage standard, French; some Dutch dialects (mainly in Belgium), Swedish in Southern Sweden
Voiced uvular fricative [ʁ] Listen German, Danish, French in and around Paris, Modern Hebrew, Portuguese

Other languages may use the letter r in their alphabets (or Latin transliterations schemes) to represent rhotic consonants different from the alveolar trill. In Haitian Creole, it represents a sound so weak that it is often written interchangeably with w, eg. Kweyol for Kreyol.

Dog's Letter

The letter R is sometimes referred to as the littera canina (canine letter). This phrase has Latin origins: the Latin R was trilled so it sounds like a snarling dog. A good example of a trilling R is the Spanish word for dog, perro. [2] In William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, such a reference is made by Juliet's nurse in Act 2, scene 4, when she calls the letter R "the dog's name." The reference is also found in Ben Jonson's English Grammar.[3]

Codes for computing

Alternative representations of R
NATO phonetic Morse code
Romeo ·–·
Signal flag Flag semaphore Braille

In Unicode, the capital R is codepoint U+0052 and the lower case r is U+0072.

The ASCII code for capital R is 82 and for lowercase r is 114; or in binary 01010010 and 01110010, correspondingly.

The EBCDIC code for capital R is 217 and for lowercase r is 153.

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

See also


  1. ^ "R" Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); "ar," op. cit.
  2. ^ A Word A Day: Dog's letter
  3. ^ Shakespeare, William; Horace Howard Furness, Frederick Williams (1913). Romeo and Juliet. Lippincott. p. 189. 
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 R with diacritics

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 R

Ŕŕ Řř Ŗŗ Ȑȑ Ȓȓ Ṝṝ Ṟṟ Ɍɍ ɽ ɼ ɾ ʀ

Letters using dot sign


lower case (upper case )

  1. The letter r with a dot above.

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

R is the eighteenth (number 18) letter in the English alphabet.

Meanings for R

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