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This article is about the letter of the alphabet. For other uses, see F (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with .
For technical reasons, "F#" redirects here. For the programming language, see F Sharp (programming language). For F♯, see F-sharp. For the Godspeed You! Black Emperor album, see F♯A♯∞.
F cursiva.gif

F (named ef /ˈɛf/, plural effs)[1] is the sixth letter in the ISO basic Latin alphabet.


V or W
Roman F
Proto-semiticW-01.png PhoenicianW-01.png Digamma uc lc.svg EtruscanF-01.svg Roman F

The origin of 'F' is the Semitic letter vâv (or waw) that represented a sound like /v/ or /w/. Graphically it originally probably depicted either a hook or a club. It may have been based on a comparable Egyptian hieroglyph such as that which represented the word mace (transliterated as ḥ(dj)):-


The Phoenician form of the letter was adopted into Greek as a vowel, upsilon (which resembled its descendant, 'Y' but was also ancestor of Roman letters 'U', 'V', and 'W'); and with another form, as a consonant, digamma, which resembled 'F', but indicated the pronunciation /w/, as in Phoenician. (After /w/ disappeared from Greek, digamma was used as a numeral only.)

In Etruscan, 'F' probably represented /w/, as in Greek; and the Etruscans formed the digraph 'FH' to represent /f/. When the Romans adopted the alphabet, they used 'V' (from Greek upsilon) to stand for /w/ as well as /u/, leaving 'F' available for /f/. (At that time, the Greek letter phi 'Φ' represented an aspirated voiceless bilabial plosive /pʰ/, though in Modern Greek it approximates the sound of /f/.) And so out of the various vav variants in the Mediterranean world, the letter F entered the Roman alphabet attached to a sound which its antecedents in Greek and Etruscan did not have. The Roman alphabet forms the basis of the alphabet used today for English and many other languages.

The lowercase ' f ' is not related to the visually similar long s, ' ſ ' (or medial s). The use of the long s largely died out by the beginning of the 19th century, mostly to prevent confusion with ' f ' when using a short mid-bar (see more at: S).


In the English writing system 'f' is used to represent the sound /f/. It is commonly doubled at the end of words. Exceptionally, it represents the voiced sound /v/ in the common word "of".

In English-language online slang, "F" (with the pronunciation spelling eff) is used as an initialism for fuck. (e.g. F U, meaning fuck you). The F-word refers to the word fuck itself.

In the orthographies of other languages, 'f' commonly represents /f/, [ɸ] or /v/.

In French orthography, 'f' is used to represent /f/. It may also be silent at the end of words.

In Spanish orthography, 'f' is used to represent /f/.

In the Hepburn romanization of Japanese, 'f' is used to represent [ɸ], but is pronounced in different ways depending upon its context. It is usually considered to be an allophone of /h/ before /u/.

In Slavic languages, 'f' is used primarily in words of foreign (Greek, Latin, or Germanic) origin.

In phonetic and phonemic transcription, the International Phonetic Alphabet uses 'f' to represent the voiceless labiodental fricative.

In school grading "F" stands for Fail.

Related letters and other similar characters[edit]

Computing codes[edit]

Character F f
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 70 U+0046 102 U+0066
UTF-8 70 46 102 66
Numeric character reference F F f f
EBCDIC family 198 C6 134 86
ASCII 1 70 46 102 66
1 Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.

Other representations[edit]

NATO phonetic Morse code
Foxtrot ··–·
ICS Foxtrot.svg Semaphore Foxtrot.svg ⠋
Signal flag Flag semaphore Braille




  1. ^ "F", Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); "ef", "eff", "bee" (under "bee eff"), op. cit.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to F at Wikimedia Commons
  • The dictionary definition of F at Wiktionary
  • The dictionary definition of f at Wiktionary