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Basic Latin alphabet

Q is the seventeenth letter of the basic modern Latin alphabet. Its name in English (pronounced /kjuː/) is spelled cue.[1]



Egyptian hieroglyph wj Phoenician Q Etruscan Q Greek Qoppa

The Semitic sound value of Qôp (perhaps originally qaw, "cord of wool", and possibly based on an Egyptian hieroglyph) was /q/ (voiceless uvular plosive), a sound common to Semitic languages, but not found in English or most Indo-European ones. In Greek, this sign as Qoppa Ϙ probably came to represent several labialized velar plosives, among them /kʷ/ and /kʷʰ/. As a result of later sound shifts, these sounds in Greek changed to /p/ and /pʰ/ respectively. Therefore, Qoppa was transformed into two letters: Qoppa, which stood for a number only, and Phi Φ which stood for the aspirated sound /pʰ/ that came to be pronounced /f/ in Modern Greek.

In the earliest Latin inscriptions, the letters C, K and Q were all used to represent the sounds /k/ and /g/ (which were not differentiated in writing). Of these, Q was used to represent /k/ or /g/ before a rounded vowel (e.g. "EQO" = ego), K before /a/, and C elsewhere. Later, the use of C (and its variant G) replaced most usages of K and Q: Q survived only to represent /k/ when immediately followed by a /w/ sound.[2]

The Etruscans used Q only in conjunction with V to represent /kʷ/


In most modern western languages written in Latin script, such as in Romance and Germanic languages, Q appears almost exclusively in the digraph QU, though see Q without U. In English this digraph most often denotes the cluster /kw/, except in borrowings from French where it represents /k/ as in plaque. In Italian qu represents /kw/ (where /w/ is the semivowel allophone of /u/); in German, /kv/; and in French, Occitan, Catalan, Spanish and Portuguese, /k/ or /kw/; in the same languages qu replaces c for /k/ before front vowels i and e, since in those contexts c is a fricative and letter 'k' is seldom used outside loan words.) Danish abolished the letter in 1872, although it's still part of the alphabet. A consequence of this was the change in spelling of the word 'kvinde' (woman), which prior to 1872 was spelt 'Quinde'. As a result the term 'kvinde med q' (woman spelt with q) is used for an old-fashioned woman, whilst 'kvinde med k' is used about a modern woman.

In the Aymara, Aleut, Yup'ik, Inuit, Greenlandic, Uzbek, Quechua, and Tatar languages, as well as romanised Arabic, Q is a voiceless uvular plosive. [q] is also used in the IPA for the voiceless uvular plosive, as well as in most transliteration schemes of Semitic languages for the "emphatic" qōp sound. The sound is rendered with letter ﻕ in Arabic script.

In Maltese and Võro, Q denotes the glottal stop.

In Albanian, q represents the voiceless palatal plosive, /c/. In Chinese Hanyu Pinyin, Q is used to represent the sound [tɕʰ], which is close to English "ch" in "cheese".

In Fijian, Q represents the prenasalized voiced velar plosive [ŋɡ].

In Xhosa and Zulu, Q represents the postalveolar click [kǃ].

In Kiowa, Q represents a glottalized velar plosive, /kʼ/.

Q, which is rarely seen in a word without a U next to it in English, is the second most rarely used letter in the English language. The Q represents a voiceless velar plosive, contrary to the belief that it represents a labialized voiceless velar plosive. If this were the case, there would be no need for the "U" at the end.

The lowercase Q is usually seen as a lowercase O with a descender (i.e. downward vertical tail) extending from the right side of the bowl, with or without a swash (i.e. flourish). The lowercase Q's descender is usually typed without a swash due to the major style difference typically seen between the descenders of the lowercase G (a loop) and lowercase Q (vertical). The descender of the lowercase Q is usually handwritten finishing with a rightward swash to distinguish from the leftward facing curved descender on the lowercase G.

Codes for computing

Alternative representations of Q
NATO phonetic Morse code
Quebec – – · –
Signal flag Flag semaphore Braille

In Unicode, the capital Q is codepoint U+0051 and the lower case q is U+0071.

The ASCII hexadecimal codes for capital Q and lowercase q are 51 and 71, respectively. These equal 81 and 113 in decimal, and 01010001 and 01110001 in binary.

The EBCDIC code for capital Q is 216 and for lowercase q is 152.

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

See also


  1. ^ "Q" Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993); "que," op. cit.
  2. ^ Sihler, Andrew L. (1995). New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin (illustrated ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 21. ISBN 0195083458. 
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 Q with diacritics
Two-letter combinations
Letter-digit & Digit-letter combinations
   Q0Q1Q2Q3Q4Q5Q6Q7Q8Q9    0Q1Q2Q3Q4Q5Q6Q7Q8Q9Q   

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 Universal Character Set
Letter q.svg
Basic Latin U+0071



Wikipedia has an article on:



q lower case (upper case Q)

  1. The seventeenth letter of the basic modern Latin alphabet.

See also



  1. A symbol of the IPA, representing a voiceless uvular stop.

q, Q

  1. (physics) electrical charge
  2. (physics) heat

See also

Other representations of Q:


Most common English words: worse « safe « main « #979: q » greatly » floor » example





q (plural qs)

  1. The seventeenth letter of the English alphabet.




q (plural qs)

  1. (sports) conditional qualification
  2. question

Related terms



  • (letter name): IPA: /ky/


q (lower case, upper case Q)

  1. The seventeenth letter of the Dutch alphabet.

See also

  • Previous letter: p
  • Next letter: r



q m. and f. inv.

  1. See under Q




  1. Quintus



  1. A letter of the Latin alphabet.




  1. Used in SMS for que and qué


q (lower case, upper case Q)

  1. The 20th letter of the Spanish alphabet.

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

Q is the seventeenth (number 17) letter in the English alphabet.

Some people say that the letter Q is not needed, because the sound it makes can be made with "K" and "W" instead. The same sort of things are said about the letters "X" and "C".

Below are some ancient ways of writing "Q":

Egyptian hieroglyph wj Phoenician Q Etruscan Q Greek Qoppa
V24 [[File:]] [[File:]] [[File:]]

Meanings for Q

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