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Kaph               Lamedh               Mem
Phoenician Hebrew Aramaic Syriac Arabic
Lamedh ל Lamedh ܠ ل‍,ل
Greek Latin Cyrillic
Phonemic representation: l
Position in alphabet: 12
Numerical (Gematria/Abjad) value: 30

Lamed or Lamedh is the twelfth letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew Lamed ל and Arabic alphabet Lām ل. Its sound value is IPA: [l].

The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Lambda (Λ), Latin L, and Cyrillic El (Л).



Phoenician alphabet
(ca. 1050–200 BCE)
𐤀    𐤁    𐤂    𐤃    𐤄    𐤅
𐤆    𐤇    𐤈    𐤉    𐤊    𐤋
𐤌    𐤍    𐤎    𐤏    𐤐
𐤑    𐤒    𐤓    𐤔    𐤕
Semitic abjads · Genealogy
Hebrew alphabet
(400 BCE–present)
א    ב    ג    ד    ה    ו
ז    ח    ט    י    כך
ל    מם    נן    ס    ע    פף
צץ    ק    ר    ש    ת
History · Transliteration
Niqqud · Dagesh · Gematria
Cantillation · Numeration
Syriac alphabet
(200 BCE–present)
ܐ    ܒ    ܓ    ܕ    ܗ    ܘ
ܙ    ܚ    ܛ    ܝ    ܟܟ    ܠ
ܡܡ    ܢܢ    ܣ    ܥ    ܦ
ܨ    ܩ    ܪ    ܫ    ܬ
Arabic alphabet
(400 CE–present)
ا    ب    ت    ث    ج    ح
خ    د    ذ    ر    ز    س
ش    ص    ض    ط    ظ    ع
غ    ف    ق    ك    ل
م    ن    ه    و    ي
History · Transliteration
Diacritics · Hamza ء
Numerals · Numeration

Lamedh is believed to have come from a pictogram of an ox goad or cattle prod. Some have suggested a shepherd's staff.

Hebrew Lamed

Orthographic variants
Various Print Fonts Cursive
Serif Sans-serif Monospaced
ל ל ל Hebrew letter Lamed handwriting.svg Hebrew letter Lamed Rashi.png


Lamed represents an alveolar lateral approximant (/l/).


Lamed in gematria represents the number 30.

With the letter Vav it refers to the Lamedvavniks, the 36 righteous people who save the world from destruction.

As an abbreviation, it can stand for litre. Also, a sign on a car with a Lamed on it means that the driver is a student of driving (the Lamed stands for lomed, learner).

As a prefix, it can have two purposes:

  • It can be attached to verb roots, designating the infinitive (Daber means "speak", Ledaber means to speak).
  • It can also act as a preposition meaning "to" or "for".

Arabic lām

The letter is named lām, and is written is several ways depending in its position in the word:

Position in word: Isolated Initial Medial Final
Form of letter: ل لـ ـلـ ـل

Lām is used as a prefix in two different ways. Lām-kasra (لـِ, /li/) is essentially a preposition meaning "to" or "for", as in لِوالدي liwālidī, "for my father". In this usage, it has become concatenated with other words to form new constructions often treated as independent words: for instance, لِماذا limāḏā, meaning "why?", is derived from لـِ li and ماذا māḏā, meaning "what?" thus getting "for what?". This construction is virtually, semantically identical with that which is in most Romance languages, e.g. French pourquoi, Spanish por qué, and Italian perché (though ché is an archaism and not in current use).

The other construction, lām-fatḥa (لَـ /la/) is used as an emphatic particle in very formal Arabic.

Simple English

Lamed or Lamedh is the twelfth letter in the Hebrew alphabet.

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