During the late Middle Ages, two forms of 'v' developed, which were both used for its ancestor 'u' and modern 'v'. The pointed form 'v' was written at the beginning of a word, while a rounded form 'u' was used in the middle or end, regardless of sound. So whereas 'valor' and 'excuse' appeared as in modern printing, 'have' and 'upon' were printed 'haue' and 'vpon'. The first distinction between the letters 'u' and 'v' is recorded in a Gothic alphabet from 1386, where 'v' preceded 'u'. By the mid-16th century, the 'v' form was used to represent the consonant and 'u' the vowel sound, giving us the modern letter 'u'. Capital 'U' was not accepted as a distinct letter until many years later.
Use in English
In English the letter is pronounced differently in different words. As an English vowel letter, it has a "long" and "short" pronunciation that are used in different contexts. Short 'u', found in closed syllables, commonly represents // (as in 'duck') or // (as in 'put'). Long 'u' commonly represents // ("long U" as in 'mule') or // (as in 'blue').
Use in other languages
In mathematics and science
The symbol 'U' is the chemical symbol for uranium.
Related letters and other similar characters
- 𐤅: Phoenician letter waw, the original glyph
- Υ υ : Greek letter upsilon, from which U is descended
- У у : Cyrillic letter u, descended from upsilon
- V v : Latin letter V, from which U is directly descended
- W w : Latin letter W, which, like U, is descended from V
- Y y : Latin letter Y, also descended from upsilon (like V)
- F f : Latin letter F, which also shares its roots with U, V, W, and Y
- Ŭ ŭ : Latin letter U with breve
- Ʉ ʉ : Latin letter U with bar
- Ü ü : Latin letter U with diaeresis/umlaut
- Ү ү : Cyrillic letter ue
|Unicode name||LATIN CAPITAL LETTER U||LATIN SMALL LETTER U|
|Numeric character reference||U||U||u||u|
- 1 Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.
- "U", Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993)
- Brown & Kiddle (1870) The institutes of English grammar, page 19.
Ues is the plural of the name of the letter; the plural of the letter itself is rendered U's, Us, u's, or us.
- Pflughaupt, Laurent (2008). Letter by Letter: An Alphabetical Miscellany. trans. Gregory Bruhn. Princeton Architectural Press. pp. 123–124. ISBN 978-1-56898-737-8. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
- Media related to U at Wikimedia Commons
- The dictionary definition of U at Wiktionary
- The dictionary definition of u at Wiktionary
Letter U with diacritics