The modern lowercase 'b' derives from later Roman times, when scribes began omitting the upper loop of the capital.
|Blackletter B||Uncial B|
|Modern Roman B||Modern Italic B||Modern Script B|
In English, most other languages that use the Latin alphabet, and the International Phonetic Alphabet, 'b' denotes the voiced bilabial plosive /b/, as in 'bib'. In English it is sometimes silent; most instances are derived from old monosyllablic words with the 'b' final and immediately preceded by an 'm', such as 'lamb' and 'bomb'; a few are examples of etymological spelling to make the word more like its Latin original, such as 'debt' or 'doubt'.
In Estonian, Icelandic, and Chinese pinyin, 'b' does not denote a voiced consonant; instead, it represents a voiceless /p/ that contrasts with either a geminated /pp/ (in Estonian) or an aspirated /pʰ/ (in Chinese, Danish and Icelandic), represented by 'p'. In Fijian 'b' represents a prenasalized /mb/, whereas in Zulu and Xhosa it represents an implosive /ɓ/, in contrast to the digraph 'bh' which represents /b/.
'B' is also a musical note. Its value varies depending on the region; a 'b' in Anglophone countries represents a note that is a semitone higher than the B note in Northern Continental Europe. (Anglophone B is represented in Northern Europe with 'H'.) Archaic forms of 'b', the b quadratum (square b, ♮) and b rotundum (round b, ♭) remain in use for musical notation as the symbols for natural and flat, respectively.
In Contracted (grade 2) English braille, 'b' stands for "but" when in isolation.
Related letters and other similar characters
- Β β : Greek letter Beta
- В в : Cyrillic letter Ve
- Б б : Cyrillic letter Be
- Ɓ ɓ : Latin letter B with hook
- Ъ ъ : Cyrillic letter Yer (also known as the hard sign, back yer, or tvyordiy znak) is shaped like the letter b, but has no phonetic value on its own in modern East Slavic languages. The ъ serves as an orthographic device that indicates that the consonant preceding the ъ is not palatalized.
- Ь ь : Cyrillic letter Soft sign (also known as the front yer, or myagkiy znak) is also shaped like the letter b, but has no phonetic value on its own in modern East Slavic languages. The ь serves as orthographic device that indicates that the consonant preceding the ь is softened or palatalized.
- ẞ ß : German letter Eszett, originally a ligature of long s 'ſ' with 'z', now considered to stand for 'ss'.
- ב : Hebrew letter Bet
- ␢ : U+2422 ␢ blank symbol
- ♭: The flat in music, mentioned above, still closely resembles lowercase b.
|Unicode name||LATIN CAPITAL LETTER B||LATIN SMALL LETTER B|
|Numeric character reference||B||B||b||b|
- 1 Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.
- "B" Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993); "bee", op. cit.
- Media related to B at Wikimedia Commons
- The dictionary definition of B at Wiktionary
- The dictionary definition of b at Wiktionary
Letter B with diacritics