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This article is about the letter of the Roman alphabet. For the letter of the Cyrillic script (М, м), see Em (Cyrillic). For other uses, see M (disambiguation).
Writing cursive forms of M

M (named em /ˈɛm/)[1] is the 13th letter of the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet.


Egyptian hieroglyph "n" -Phoenician
Etruscan M Greek
Roman M
PhoenicianM-01.png EtruscanM-01.svg Mu uc lc.svg Roman M

The letter M is derived from the Phoenician Mem, via the Greek Mu (Μ, μ). Semitic Mem probably originally pictured water. It is thought that Semitic people working in Egypt c. 2000 BC borrowed a hieroglyph for "water" that was first used for an alveolar nasal (/n/), because of the Egyptian word for water, n-t. This same symbol became used for /m/ in Semitic, because the word for water began with that sound.

Use in writing systems[edit]

The letter m represents the bilabial nasal consonant sound [m] in the orthography of Latin as well as in that of many modern languages, and also in the International Phonetic Alphabet. In English, the Oxford English Dictionary (first edition) says that m is sometimes a vowel in words like spasm and in the suffix -ism. In modern terminology, this is described as a syllabic consonant (IPA [m̩]).

Other uses[edit]

The Roman numeral Ⅿ is used to represent the number 1000, though it was not used in Roman times.[2]

Related characters[edit]

Ancestors, descendants and siblings[edit]

Ligatures and abbreviations[edit]

Computing codes[edit]

Character M m
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 77 U+004D 109 U+006D
UTF-8 77 4D 109 6D
Numeric character reference M M m m
EBCDIC family 212 D4 148 94
ASCII 1 77 4D 109 6D
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
Mike ––
ICS Mike.svg Semaphore Mike.svg ⠍
Signal flag Flag semaphore Braille


  1. ^ "M" Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993); "em," op. cit.
  2. ^ Gordon, Arthur E. (1983). Illustrated Introduction to Latin Epigraphy. University of California Press. p. 45. Retrieved 3 October 2015. 

External links[edit]

  • Media related to M at Wikimedia Commons
  • The dictionary definition of M at Wiktionary
  • The dictionary definition of m at Wiktionary