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Phonemic representationd͡ʒ, ʒ, ɡ, ɟ, ɣ
Position in alphabet3
Numerical value3
Alphabetic derivatives of the Phoenician
LatinC, G, Ɣ
CyrillicГ, Ґ

Gimel is the third letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Gīml Phoenician gimel.svg, Hebrew Gimel ג, Aramaic Gāmal Gimel.svg, Syriac Gāmal ܓ, and Arabic ǧīm ج (in alphabetical order; fifth in spelling order). Its sound-value in the original Phoenician and in all derived alphabets, except Arabic, is a voiced velar plosive [ɡ]; in Modern Standard Arabic, it represents either a /d͡ʒ/ or /ʒ/ for most Arabic speakers except in Northern Egypt, the southern parts of Yemen and some parts of Oman where it is pronounced as the voiced velar plosive [ɡ] (see below).

In its Proto-Canaanite form, the letter may have been named after a weapon that was either a staff sling or a throwing stick (spear thrower), ultimately deriving from a Proto-Sinaitic glyph based on the hieroglyph below:


The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek gamma (Γ), the Latin C, G, Ɣ and yogh , and the Cyrillic Г and Ґ.

Hebrew gimel[edit]


Orthographic variants
Various print fonts Cursive
Serif Sans-serif Monospaced
ג ג ג Hebrew letter Gimel handwriting.svg Hebrew letter Gimel Rashi.png

Hebrew spelling: גִּימֶל

Bertrand Russell posits that the letter's form is a conventionalized image of a camel.[1][2] The letter may be the shape of the walking animal's head, neck, and forelegs. Barry B. Powell, a specialist in the history of writing, states "It is hard to imagine how gimel = "camel" can be derived from the picture of a camel (it may show his hump, or his head and neck!)".[3]

Gimel is one of the six letters which can receive a dagesh qal. The two functions of dagesh are distinguished as either qal (light) or hazaq (strong). The six letters that can receive a dagesh qal are bet, gimel, daled, kaph, pe, and taf. Three of them (bet, kaph, and pe) have their sound value changed in modern Hebrew from the fricative to the plosive by adding a dagesh. The other three represent the same pronunciation in modern Hebrew, but have had alternate pronunciations at other times and places. They are essentially pronounced in the fricative as ג gh غ, dh ذ and th ث. In the Temani pronunciation, gimel represents /ɡ/, /ʒ/, or /d͡ʒ/ when with a dagesh, and /ɣ/ without a dagesh. In modern Hebrew, the combination ג׳ (gimel followed by a geresh) is used in loanwords and foreign names to denote [d͡ʒ].


In gematria, gimel represents the number three.

It is written like a vav with a yud as a "foot", and is traditionally believed to resemble a person in motion; symbolically, a rich man running after a poor man to give him charity. In the Hebrew alphabet gimel directly precedes dalet, which signifies a poor or lowly man, from the Hebrew word dal (b. Shabbat, 104a).[4]

The word gimel is related to gemul, which means 'justified repayment', or the giving of reward and punishment.

Gimel is also one of the seven letters which receive special crowns (called tagin) when written in a Sefer Torah. See shin, ayin, teth, nun, zayin, and tsadi.

The letter gimel is the electoral symbol for the United Torah Judaism party, and the party is often nicknamed Gimmel.[5][6]

In Modern Hebrew, the frequency of usage of gimel, out of all the letters, is 1.26%.

Syriac gamal/gomal[edit]

Syriac Eastern gamal.svg Madnḫaya Gamal
Syriac Serta gamal.svg Serṭo Gomal
Syriac Estrangela gamal.svg Esṭrangela Gamal

Syriac letter shapes Gamal.PNG

In the Syriac alphabet, the third letter is ܓ — Gamal in eastern pronunciation, Gomal in western pronunciation (ܓܵܡܵܠ). It is one of six letters that represent two associated sounds (the others are Bet, Dalet, Kaph, Pe and Taw). When Gamal/Gomal has a hard pronunciation (qûššāyâ ) it represents [ɡ], like "goat". When Gamal/Gomal has a soft pronunciation (rûkkāḵâ ) it traditionally represents [ɣ] (ܓ݂ܵܡܵܠ), or Ghamal/Ghomal. The letter, renamed Jamal/Jomal, is written with a tilde/tie either below or within it to represent the borrowed phoneme [d͡ʒ] (ܓ̰ܡܵܠ), which is used in Garshuni and some Neo-Aramaic languages to write loan and foreign words from Arabic or Persian.

Arabic ǧīm [edit]

an approximation of the main pronunciations of written ⟨ج⟩ in Arabic dialects.

The Arabic letter ج is named جيم ǧīm [d͡ʒiːm, ʒiːm, ɡiːm, ɟiːm]. It is written in several ways depending on its position in the word:

Position in word Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form:
ج ـج ـجـ جـ


In all varieties of Arabic, cognate words will have consistent differences in pronunciation of the letter. The standard pronunciation taught outside the Arabic speaking world is an affricate [d͡ʒ], which was the agreed upon pronunciation by the end of the nineteenth century to recite the Qur'an. It is pronounced as a fricative [ʒ] in most of Northern Africa and the Levant, and [ɡ] is the prestigious and most common pronunciation in Egypt, which is also found in Southern Arabian Peninsula. Differences in pronunciation occur because readers of Modern Standard Arabic pronounce words following their native dialects.

Egyptians always use the letter to represent [ɡ] as well as in names and loanwords, such as جولف "golf". However, ج may be used in Egypt to transcribe /ʒ~d͡ʒ/ (normally pronounced [ʒ]) or if there is a need to distinguish them completely, then چ is used to represent /ʒ/, which is also a proposal for Mehri and Soqotri languages.

The literary standard pronunciations
Non-literary pronunciation
  • [j]: In eastern Arabian Peninsula in the most colloquial speech, however [d͡ʒ] or sometimes [ʒ] to pronounce Literary Arabic loan words.

Historical pronunciation[edit]

While in all Semitic languages, e.g. Aramaic, Hebrew, Ge'ez, Old South Arabian the equivalent letter represents a [ɡ], Arabic is considered unique among them where the Jīmج⟩ was palatalized to an affricate [d͡ʒ] or a fricative [ʒ] in most dialects from classical times. While there is variation in Modern Arabic varieties, most of them reflect this palatalized pronunciation except in coastal Yemeni and Omani dialects, where it is pronounced as [ɡ] due to their substrate languages being Old South Arabian languages. The rest of Yemen, as well as Sudan, "preserved" the historical pronunciation of [ɟ].

Historically, till about the nineteenth century, Egyptian Arabic had the North African [ʒ] pronunciation, but it evolved differently to [ɡ] by the Cairo elite, later that spread and became today's prestigious pronunciation[citation needed].

It is not well known when palatalization occurred or the probability of it being connected to the pronunciation of Qāfق⟩ as a [ɡ], but in most of the Arabian peninsula (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE and parts of Yemen and Oman) which is the homeland of the Arabic language, the ⟨ج⟩ represents a [d͡ʒ] and ⟨ق⟩ represents a [ɡ], except in coastal Yemen and southern Oman where ⟨ج⟩ represents a [ɡ] and ⟨ق⟩ represents a [q], which shows a strong correlation between the palatalization of ⟨ج⟩ to [d͡ʒ] and the pronunciation of the ⟨ق⟩ as a [ɡ] as shown in the table below:

Language / Dialects Pronunciation of the letters
ج ق
Proto-Semitic [ɡ] []
Parts of Southern Arabia1 [ɡ] [q]
Most of the Arabian Peninsula [d͡ʒ]2 [ɡ]
Modern Standard Arabic [d͡ʒ]3 [q]


  1. Coastal Yemen and southern Oman.
  2. [ʒ] can be an allophone in East Arabian dialects.
  3. In most Modern Standard Arabic registers ⟨ج⟩ is pronounced [d͡ʒ] or [ʒ], but in Egypt [g], Yemen [ɡ, ɟ], and Sudan [ɟ].

Character encodings[edit]

Character information
Preview ג ج گ ܓ
Encodings decimal hex dec hex dec hex dec hex dec hex dec hex
Unicode 1490 U+05D2 1580 U+062C 1711 U+06AF 1811 U+0713 2050 U+0802 8503 U+2137
UTF-8 215 146 D7 92 216 172 D8 AC 218 175 DA AF 220 147 DC 93 224 160 130 E0 A0 82 226 132 183 E2 84 B7
Numeric character reference ג ג ج ج گ گ ܓ ܓ ࠂ ࠂ ℷ ℷ
Named character reference ℷ

Character information
Preview 𐎂 𐡂 𐤂
Encodings decimal hex dec hex dec hex
Unicode 66434 U+10382 67650 U+10842 67842 U+10902
UTF-8 240 144 142 130 F0 90 8E 82 240 144 161 130 F0 90 A1 82 240 144 164 130 F0 90 A4 82
UTF-16 55296 57218 D800 DF82 55298 56386 D802 DC42 55298 56578 D802 DD02
Numeric character reference 𐎂 𐎂 𐡂 𐡂 𐤂 𐤂

See also[edit]

The serif form of the Hebrew letter gimel is occasionally used for the gimel function in mathematics.


  1. ^ Russell, Bertrand (1972). A history of western philosophy (60th print. ed.). New York: Touchstone book. ISBN 9780671314002.
  2. ^ Stan Tenen - Meru Foundation. "Meru Foundation Research: Letter Portrait: Gimel".
  3. ^ Powell, Barry B. (27 March 2009). Writing: Theory and History of the Technology of Civilization. Wiley Blackwell. p. 182. ISBN 978-1405162562.
  4. ^ Ginzburgh, Yitzchak; Trugman, Avraham Arieh; Wisnefsky, Moshe Yaakov (1991). The Alef-beit: Jewish Thought Revealed Through the Hebrew Letters. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 42, 389. ISBN 9780876685181.
  5. ^ "Mass Rally for United Torah Judaism -". Hamodia. 11 March 2015.
  6. ^ "Gedolim at Special Conference Call to Strengthen UTJ to Uphold Torah, Shabbos and Religious Character -". Hamodia. 1 April 2019.

External links[edit]