From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about Semitic letter. For other uses, see Zayn.
Phonemic representation z
Position in alphabet 7
Numerical value 7
Alphabetic derivatives of the Phoenician

Zayin (also spelled Zain or Zayn or simply Zay) is the seventh letter of many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician 𐤆, Aramaic, Hebrew ז, Syriac ܙ and Perso-Arabic alphabet ز (see below). It represents the sound [z].

The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek zeta (Ζ), Etruscan z Z, Latin Z, and Cyrillic Ze З.

The Phoenician letter appears to be named after a sword or other weapon. (In Biblical Hebrew, zayin (זין) means sword, and the verb lezayen (לזיין) means to arm. In modern Hebrew, zayin (זין) means penis and lezayen (לזין) is a vulgar term which generally means to perform sexual intercourse and is used in a similar fashion to the English word fuck,[1] although the older meaning survives in "maavak mezuyan" (armed struggle) (מאבק מזוין) and "beton mezuyan" (בטון מזוין) (armed, i.e., reinforced concrete). The Proto-Sinaitic glyph according to Brian Colless may have been called ziqq, based on a hieroglyph depicting a "manacle".

Hebrew zayin[edit]

Orthographic variants
Various print fonts Cursive Hebrew Rashi script
Serif Sans-serif Monospaced
ז ז ז Hebrew letter Zayin handwriting.svg Hebrew letter Zayin Rashi.png

In modern Hebrew the frequency of the usage of zayin, out of all the letters, is 0.88%.

Hebrew spelling: זַיִן

In modern Hebrew, the combination ז׳ (zayin followed by a geresh) is used in loanwords and foreign names to denote [ʒ] as in vision.


In gematria, zayin represents the number seven,[2] and when used at the beginning of Hebrew years it means 7000 (i.e. זתשנד in numbers would be the future date 7754).

Zayin is also one of the seven letters which receive a special crown (called a tagin) when written in a Sefer Torah. See ʻayin, gimel, teth, nun, shin, and tzadi. It is one of several Hebrew letters that have an additional meaning as a noun. The others are: bet [ב, the second letter] whose name is a grammatical form of the word for 'house' (בית); vav [ו, the sixth letter] whose name means 'hook' (וו); kaf [כ, the eleventh letter] whose name means 'palm [of the hand]' (כף); ʻayin [ע, the sixteenth letter] whose name means 'eye' (עין); pe [פ, the seventeenth letter] whose name means 'mouth' (פה); qof [ק, the nineteenth letter] whose name means 'monkey' (קוף); shin [ש, the twenty-first letter] whose name means 'tooth' (שין); tav [the twenty-second letter] whose name means 'mark' (תו), and several other Hebrew letters whose names are ancient Hebrew forms of nouns still used, with a slight change of form or pronunciation, as nouns in modern Hebrew.[3]

Syriac zain[edit]

Zain is a constant with the /z/ sound which is a voiced alveolar fricative.

Arabic zayn[edit]

The letter is named zayn/zāy/zāʾ). It is written in several ways depending on its position in the word:

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ز ـز ـز ز

The similarity to rāʼ  ر  is likely a function of the original Syriac forms converging to a single symbol, requiring that one of them be distinguished as a dot; a similar process occurred to jīm and ḥāʼ.


The same letter is used in a number of languages with another name: ze.


Main article: ژ

It also has a modified version: ژ Persian pronunciation: [ʒe] which are used in Persian, Pashto, Kurdish, Urdu and Uyghur (see K̡ona Yezik̡).

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ژ ـژ ـژ ژ

Character encodings[edit]

Character ז ز ܙ
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 1494 U+05D6 1586 U+0632 1817 U+0719 2054 U+0806
UTF-8 215 150 D7 96 216 178 D8 B2 220 153 DC 99 224 160 134 E0 A0 86
Numeric character reference ז ז ز ز ܙ ܙ ࠆ ࠆ
Character 𐎇 𐡆 𐤆
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 66439 U+10387 67654 U+10846 67846 U+10906
UTF-8 240 144 142 135 F0 90 8E 87 240 144 161 134 F0 90 A1 86 240 144 164 134 F0 90 A4 86
UTF-16 55296 57223 D800 DF87 55298 56390 D802 DC46 55298 56582 D802 DD06
Numeric character reference 𐎇 𐎇 𐡆 𐡆 𐤆 𐤆

See also[edit]