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V v
Writing systemLatin script
TypeAlphabetic and logographic
Language of originLatin language
Sound values[v]
In UnicodeU+0056, U+0076
Alphabetical position22
Time period~−700 to present
Descendants • U
 • W




TransliterationsY, U, W
Associated graphsv(x)
Writing directionLeft-to-right
This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and ⟨ ⟩, see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.

V, or v, is the twenty-second letter of the Latin alphabet, used in the modern English alphabet, the alphabets of other western European languages and others worldwide. Its name in English is vee (pronounced /ˈv/), plural vees.[1]


  • Catalan: ve (pronounced [ˈve]); in dialects that lack contrast between /v/ and /b/, the letter is called ve baixa [ˈbe ˈbajʃə], "low B/V".
  • Czech: ['vɛː]
  • French: ['ve]
  • German: Vau [ˈfaʊ]
  • Italian: vi [ˈvi] or vu [ˈvu]
  • Japanese: ⟨v⟩ is called a variety of names originating in English, most commonly ブイ [bɯi] or [bui], but less nativized variants, violating to an extent the phonotactics of Japanese, of ヴィ[viː], ヴイ [vɯi] or [vui], and ヴィ [vi] are also used. The phoneme /v/ in Japanese is used properly only in loanwords, where the preference for either /v/ or /b/ depends on many factors; in general, words that are perceived to be in common use tend toward /b/.
  • Polish: fał ['faw]
  • Portuguese: [ˈve]
  • Spanish: uve [ˈuβe] is recommended, but ve [ˈbe] is traditional. If ⟨v⟩ is referred to as the latter, it would have the same pronunciation as the letter ⟨b⟩ in Spanish (i.e. [ˈbe] after pause or nasal sound, otherwise [ˈβe]);[2] thus further terms are needed to distinguish ve from be. In some countries it is called ve corta, ve baja, ve pequeña, ve chica or ve labiodental.


Proto-Sinaitic Phoenician
Western Greek
Ancient Corinthian vase depicting Perseus, Andromeda and Ketos. The inscriptions denoting the depicted persons are written in an archaic form of the Greek alphabet. Perseus (Ancient Greek: ΠΕΡϺΕΥϺ) is inscribed as ⟨ϺVΕϺΡΕΠ⟩ (from right to left), using ⟨V⟩ to represent the vowel [u]. San (⟨Ϻ⟩) is used instead of Sigma (⟨Σ⟩).

The letter ⟨v⟩ ultimately comes from the Phoenician letter waw by way of u.

During the Late Middle Ages, two minuscule glyphs of U developed which were both used for sounds including /u/ and modern /v/. The pointed form ⟨v⟩ was written at the beginning of a word, while a rounded form ⟨u⟩ was used in the middle or end, regardless of sound. So whereas valour and excuse appeared as in modern printing, have and upon were printed as "haue" and "vpon". The first distinction between the letters ⟨v⟩ and ⟨u⟩ is recorded in a Gothic script from 1386, where ⟨v⟩ preceded ⟨u⟩. By the mid-16th century, the ⟨v⟩ form was used to represent the consonant and ⟨u⟩ the vowel sound, giving us the modern letter ⟨v⟩. ⟨u⟩ and ⟨v⟩ were not accepted as distinct letters until many years later.[3] The rounded variant became the modern-day version of ⟨u⟩, and the letter's former pointed form became ⟨v⟩.

Use in writing systems

Pronunciation of ⟨v⟩ by language
Orthography Phonemes
Catalan /v/ or /b/
Cherokee romanization /ə̃/
Standard Chinese (substitute for ⟨ü⟩ in Pinyin) /y/
Choctaw (substitute for ⟨ʋ⟩) /ə/
Dutch /v/ or /f/
English /v/
Esperanto /v/
French /v/
Galician /b/
German /f/, /v/
Indonesian /f/
Italian /v/
Irish /w/, //
Malay /v/
Muscogee /ə/ ~ /a/
Old Norse /w/
Portuguese /v/ or /b/
Spanish /b/
Turkish /v/


In English, ⟨v⟩ represents a voiced labiodental fricative.

Special rules of orthography normally apply to the letter ⟨v⟩:

  • Traditionally, ⟨v⟩ is not doubled to indicate a short vowel, the way, for example, ⟨p⟩ is doubled to indicate the difference between super and supper. However, that is changing with newly coined words, such as savvy, divvy up and skivvies.
  • A word-final /v/ sound (except in of) is normally spelled -⟨ve⟩, regardless of the pronunciation of the vowel before it. This rule does not apply to transliterations of Slavic and Hebrew words, such as Kyiv (Kiev), or to words that started out as abbreviations, such as sov for sovereign.
  • The /ʌ/ sound is spelled ⟨o⟩, not ⟨u⟩, before the letter ⟨v⟩. This originated with a mediaeval scribal practice designed to increase legibility by avoiding too many vertical strokes (minims) in a row.

Like j, k, w, x and z, ⟨v⟩ is not used very frequently in English. It is the sixth least frequently used letter in the English language, occurring in roughly 1% of words. ⟨v⟩ is the only letter that cannot be used to form an English two-letter word in the British[4] and Australian[5] versions of the game of Scrabble. It is one of only two letters (the other being ⟨c⟩) that cannot be used this way in the American version.[6][7] ⟨v⟩ is also the only letter in the English language that is never silent.[8]

Romance languages

The letter represents /v/ in several Romance languages, but in others it represents the same sound as ⟨b⟩, i.e. /b/, due to a process known as betacism. Betacism occurs in most dialects of Spanish, in some dialects of Catalan and Portuguese, as well as in Aragonese, Asturleonese and Galician.

In Spanish, the phoneme has two main allophones; in most environments, it is pronounced [β̞], but after a pause or a nasal it is typically [b]. See Allophones of /b d g/ in Spanish phonology for a more thorough discussion.

In Corsican, ⟨v⟩ represents [b], [v], [β] or [w], depending on the position in the word and the sentence.

Other languages

Late Renaissance or early Baroque design of ⟨v⟩, from 1627

In most languages that use the Latin alphabet, ⟨v⟩ represents a voiced bilabial or labiodental sound.

In contemporary German, it represents /v/ in most loanwords, while in native German words, it always represents /f/.

In standard Dutch, it traditionally represents /v/, but in many regions, it represents /f/ in some or all positions.

In the Latinization of the Cherokee syllabary, ⟨v⟩ represents a nasalized schwa, /ə̃/.

In Chinese pinyin, while v is not used, the letter ⟨v⟩ is used by most input methods to enter the letter ⟨ü⟩, which most keyboards lack (romanized-input Chinese is a popular method to enter Chinese text). Informal romanizations of Mandarin Chinese use ⟨v⟩ as a substitute for the close front rounded vowel /y/, properly written ⟨ü⟩ in both pinyin and Wade–Giles.

Other systems

In the International Phonetic Alphabet, ⟨v⟩ represents the voiced labiodental fricative.

Other uses

Ancestors and siblings in other alphabets

  • 𐤅: Semitic letter Waw, from which the following symbols originally derive:
    • Υ υ : Greek letter Upsilon, from which ⟨v⟩ derives
      • Y y : Latin letter y, which, like ⟨v⟩, also derives from Upsilon (but was taken into the alphabet at a later date)
      • Ѵ ѵ : Cyrillic letter izhitsa, also descended from Upsilon
      • У у : Cyrillic letter u, also descended from Upsilon via the digraph of omicron and upsilon

Ligatures and abbreviations

Other representations


Character information
Preview V v
Encodings decimal hex dec hex dec hex dec hex
Unicode 86 U+0056 118 U+0076 65334 U+FF36 65366 U+FF56
UTF-8 86 56 118 76 239 188 182 EF BC B6 239 189 150 EF BD 96
Numeric character reference V V v v V V v v
EBCDIC family 229 E5 165 A5
ASCII 1 86 56 118 76
1 Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.



  1. ^ "V", Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993); "vee", op. cit.
  2. ^ Díez Losada, Fernando (2004). La tribuna del idioma (in Spanish). Editorial Tecnologica de CR. p. 176. ISBN 978-9977-66-161-2.
  3. ^ Pflughaupt, Laurent (2008). Letter by Letter: An Alphabetical Miscellany. trans. Gregory Bruhn. Princeton Architectural Press. pp. 123–124. ISBN 978-1-56898-737-8. Archived from the original on May 10, 2013. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  4. ^ Collins Scrabble Dictionary Revised 6th edition (2022) Harper Collins ISBN 978 00085 2391 6
  5. ^ "2-Letter Words with Definitions". Australian Scrabble Players Association (ASPA). 8 May 2007. Archived from the original on 5 March 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  6. ^ Hasbro staff (2014). "Scrabble word lists:2-Letter Words". Hasbro. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  7. ^ Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, 6th Edition (2018) Merriam Webster ISBN 978 08777 9422 6
  8. ^ "Every Letter Is Silent, Sometimes". Archived from the original on March 5, 2023. Retrieved March 5, 2023.
  9. ^ a b Constable, Peter (April 19, 2004). "L2/04-132 Proposal to add additional phonetic characters to the UCS" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on October 11, 2017. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  10. ^ Miller, Kirk; Ashby, Michael (November 8, 2020). "L2/20-252R: Unicode request for IPA modifier-letters (a), pulmonic" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on July 30, 2021. Retrieved October 13, 2022.
  11. ^ Everson, Michael; et al. (March 20, 2002). "L2/02-141: Uralic Phonetic Alphabet characters for the UCS" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on February 19, 2018. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  12. ^ Ruppel, Klaas; Rueter, Jack; Kolehmainen, Erkki I. (April 7, 2006). "L2/06-215: Proposal for Encoding 3 Additional Characters of the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on July 6, 2017. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  13. ^ "Roman Liturgy Fonts containing the response and versicle characters – Roman Liturgy". Roman Liturgy. September 7, 2011. Archived from the original on July 23, 2016. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
  14. ^ Everson, Michael; Baker, Peter; Emiliano, António; Grammel, Florian; Haugen, Odd Einar; Luft, Diana; Pedro, Susana; Schumacher, Gerd; Stötzner, Andreas (January 30, 2006). "L2/06-027: Proposal to add Medievalist characters to the UCS" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on September 19, 2018. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  • Media related to V at Wikimedia Commons
  • The dictionary definition of V at Wiktionary
  • The dictionary definition of v at Wiktionary