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Form of the Gothic letter
Some words with Hwair, in Joseph Wright's Grammar of the Gothic Language (1910)

Hwair (also ƕair, huuair, hvair) is the name of 𐍈, the Gothic letter expressing the [] or [ʍ] sound (reflected in English by the inverted wh-spelling for [ʍ]). Hwair is also the name of the Latin ligature ƕ (capital Ƕ) used to transcribe Gothic.


The name of the Gothic letter is recorded by Alcuin in Codex Vindobonensis 795 as uuaer. The meaning of the name ƕair was probably "cauldron, pot"[1] (cf. ƕairnei "skull");[2] comparative reconstruction shows *kʷer- (“a kind of dish or pot”) in Proto-Indo-European.

There was no Elder Futhark rune for the phoneme, so that unlike those of most Gothic letters, the name does not continue the name of a rune (but see qairþra).


Gothic ƕ is the reflex of Common Germanic *, which in turn continues the Indo-European labiovelar * after it underwent Grimm's law. The same phoneme in Old English and Old High German is spelled hw.


The Gothic letter is transliterated with the Latin ligature of the same name, ƕ, which was introduced by philologists around 1900 to replace the digraph hv, which was formerly used to express the phoneme, e.g. by Migne (vol. 18) in the 1860s. It is used, for example, in Dania transcription. It was also used to represent the voiceless labial–velar fricative [ʍ] in a 1921 edition of the International Phonetic Alphabet.

Related letters and other similar characters[edit]

Character encodings[edit]

character 𐍈 Ƕ ƕ
character encoding decimal hexadecimal decimal hexadecimal decimal hexadecimal
Unicode 66376 10348 502 01F6 405 0195
UTF-8 240 144 141 136 F0 90 8D 88 199 182 C7 B6 198 149 C6 95
Numeric character reference 𐍈 𐍈 Ƕ Ƕ ƕ ƕ

Note that the Unicode names of the Latin letters are different: "Hwair" and "Hv".[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ cognate with Sanskrit caru "pot"); see e.g. Karl Ljungstedt, Anmärkningar till det starka preteritum i germanska språk (1887), p. 165. Hans Jensen, 00Die Schrift in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart, 1935, p. 38 Kratylos vol. 1-2, 1956, p. 175.
  2. ^ Mark 15:22 ƕairneins staþs = κρανιου τοπος "Golgatha".
  3. ^ "Latin Extended-B: Range: 0180–024F" (PDF). The Unicode Standard, Version 6.0. Unicode Inc. 2010. pp. 21, 18. Retrieved 2011-10-15.