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Latin letter Ð.svg

Eth (Ð, ð; also spelled edh or ) is a letter used in Old English, Icelandic, Faroese (in which it is called edd), and Elfdalian. It was also used in Scandinavia during the Middle Ages, but was subsequently replaced with dh and later d. The capital eth resembles a D with a line partially through the vertical stroke. The lower case resembles an insular d with a line through the top.

The letter originated in Irish writing (Freeborn 1992, 24) as a d with a cross-stroke added. The lowercase version has retained the curved shape of a medieval scribe's d, which d itself in general has not.

In Icelandic, ð represents a voiced dental fricative like th in English "them", but it never appears as the first letter of a word. The name of the letter is pronounced , i.e., voiceless, unless followed by a vowel. It has also been labeled an "interdental fricative."[1]
This Icelandic representation can be used for the consonant "" in देवनागरी in Devanagari script as a voiced dental fricative in IPA.

In Faroese, ð isn't assigned to any particular phoneme and appears mostly for etymological reasons; however, it does show where most of the Faroese glides are, and when the ð is before r it is, in a few words, pronounced [ɡ]. In the Icelandic and Faroese alphabets, ð follows d.

In Olav Jakobsen Høyem's version of Nynorsk based on Trøndersk, the ð is always silent and is introduced for etymological reasons.

In the orthography for Elfdalian, the ð represents a voiced dental fricative like th in English "them", and it follows d in the alphabet.

In Old English, ð (referred to as ðæt by the Anglo-Saxons) was used interchangeably with þ (thorn) to represent either voiced or voiceless dental fricatives. The letter ð was used throughout the Anglo-Saxon era, but gradually fell out of use in Middle English, disappearing altogether by about 1300;[citation needed] þ survived longer, ultimately being replaced by the modern digraph th by about 1500.

The ð is also used by some in written Welsh to represent the letter 'dd' (the voiced dental fricative).[citation needed]

Lower-case eth is used as a symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), again for a voiced dental fricative, and in IPA usage, the name of the symbol is pronounced with the same voiced sound, as /ɛð/. (The IPA symbol for the voiceless dental fricative is θ.)

A handwritten ð is visible.


Computer encoding

System Uppercase Lowercase Notes
Unicode U+00D0 U+00F0 Inherited from the older ISO 8859-1 standard
Unix-like Compose key plus d and h Compose key plus D and H For ISO8859-based locales
Unix-like Compose key plus d and h Compose key plus D and h For UTF-8-based locales
Mac OS X Shift+Option+D Option+d Typed by by activating the US Extended keyboard layout
Microsoft Windows Alt key 0208 Alt key 0240 AltGr+d with the US International keyboard layout


Prince By-Tor takes the cavern to the North light,
The sign of Eth is rising in the air.

See also

Notes and references

  • Freeborn, Dennis (1992). From Old English to Standard English. London: MacMillan.

External links

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

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

See also eth




Proper noun




  1. A short form of the female given name Ethel.


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