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This article is about the letter Qoph. For the band, see Qoph (band).

More spelling for Qoph is Qof.

Phonemic representation kˤ, q
Position in alphabet 19
Numerical value 100
Alphabetic derivatives of the Phoenician

Qoph or Qop (in Modern Hebrew: Qof/Kof, Arabic: Qāf) is the nineteenth letter in many Semitic abjads or alphabets, including the Phoenician, Aramaic, Syriac, and Hebrew 'ק' or the Arabic alphabet qāf 'ق' (in abjadi order). Its sound value is an emphatic [] or [q]. In Hebrew Gematria, it has the numerical value of 100.

The origin of qoph is uncertain. It is usually suggested to have originally depicted either a sewing needle, specifically the eye of a needle (Hebrew קוף, means "hole"), or the back of a head and neck (qāf in Arabic meant "nape").[1] According to an older suggestion, it may also have been a picture of a monkey and its tail.[2]

Hebrew Qof[edit]

The OHED (Oxford Hebrew English Dictionary) gives the letter Qoph a transliteration value of 'Q' or 'K' and a final transliteration value as a 'ck'.

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

Hebrew spelling: קוֹף

Hebrew Pronunciation[edit]

In modern Israeli Hebrew the letter is also called kuf. The letter represents /k/; i.e., no distinction is made between Qof and Kaph. However, many historical groups have made that distinction, with Qof being pronounced [q] by Iraqi Jews and other Mizrahim, or even as [ɡ] by Yemenite Jews under the influence of Yemeni Arabic.

Significance of Qof[edit]

Qof in gematria represents the number 100. Sarah is described in Genesis Rabba as בת ק' כבת כ' שנה לחטא, literally At Qof years of age, she was like Kaph years of age in sin (i.e. when she was 100 years old, she was as sinless as when she was 20).

Qof is used in an Israeli phrase: after a child will say something false, one might say "B'Shin Qoph, Resh" (With Shin, Qoph, Resh). These letters spell Sheqer, which is the Hebrew word for a lie. It would be akin to an English speaker saying "That's an L-I-E."

Arabic qāf[edit]

The letter ق is named قاف qāf, and is written in several ways depending on its position in the word:

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ق ـق ـقـ قـ
The text in the folio appears below in modern script. Note how the Qaf's and Fa's are rendered:
منكم فقد ضل سواء السبيل فيما نقضهم ميثـٰـقهم لعنـٰـهم وجعلنا قلوبهم قـٰـسية يحرفون الكلم عن مواضعه ونسوا حظاً مما ذكروا به ولا تزال تطلع

It is usually transliterated into Latin script as q, though some scholarly works use .[3]

According to Sibawayh, author of the first book on Arabic grammar, the letter is pronounced as a voiced phoneme.[4] As noted above, Modern Standard Arabic has the voiceless uvular plosive /q/ as its standard pronunciation of the letter, but dialectical pronunciations vary as follows:

This variance has led to the confusion over the spelling of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi's name in Latin letters. In Western Arabic dialects the sound [q] is more preserved but can also be sometimes pronounced [ɡ] or as a simple [k] under Berber and French influence.

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Form of letter: ٯ ـٯ ـڧـ ڧـ

The Maghrebi style of writing qaf is different. Once the prevalent style, it is now only used in Maghribi countries for writing Qur'an with the exception of Libya which adopted the Mashriqi form. There is no possibility of confusing it with the letter fāʾ as it is written with a dot underneath (ڢ) in the Maghribi script.[5]


In Persian, the letter is pronounced [ɣ]~[ɢ].

Character encodings[edit]

Character ק ق ܩ
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 1511 U+05E7 1602 U+0642 1833 U+0729 2066 U+0812
UTF-8 215 167 D7 A7 217 130 D9 82 220 169 DC A9 224 160 146 E0 A0 92
Numeric character reference ק ק ق ق ܩ ܩ ࠒ ࠒ
Character 𐎖 𐡒 𐤒
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 66454 U+10396 67666 U+10852 67858 U+10912
UTF-8 240 144 142 150 F0 90 8E 96 240 144 161 146 F0 90 A1 92 240 144 164 146 F0 90 A4 92
UTF-16 55296 57238 D800 DF96 55298 56402 D802 DC52 55298 56594 D802 DD12
Numeric character reference 𐎖 𐎖 𐡒 𐡒 𐤒 𐤒


  1. ^ Travers Wood, Henry Craven Ord Lanchester, A Hebrew Grammar, 1913, p. 7. A. B. Davidson, Hebrew Primer and Grammar, 2000, p. 4. The meaning is doubtful. "Eye of a needle" has been suggested, and also "knot" Harvard Studies in Classical Philology vol. 45.
  2. ^ Isaac Taylor, History of the Alphabet: Semitic Alphabets, Part 1, 2003: "The old explanation, which has again been revived by Halévy, is that it denotes an 'ape,' the character Q being taken to represent an ape with its tail hanging down. It may also be referred to a Talmudic root which would signify an 'aperture' of some kind, as the 'eye of a needle,' ... Lenormant adopts the more usual explanation that the word means a 'knot'.
  3. ^ e.g., The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition
  4. ^ Kees Versteegh, The Arabic Language, pg. 131. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2001. Paperback edition. ISBN 9780748614363
  5. ^ Muhammad Ghoniem, M S M Saifullah, cAbd ar-Rahmân Robert Squires & cAbdus Samad, Are There Scribal Errors In The Qur'ân?, see qif on a traffic sign written ڧڢ which is written elsewhere as قف, Retrieved 2011-August-27