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Diacritics in Latin & Greek
double acute˝
double grave ̏
caron, háčekˇ
inverted breve  ̑  
diaeresis, umlaut¨
palatal hook  ̡
retroflex hook  ̢
hook above ̉
horn ̛
iota subscript ͅ 
ogonek, nosinė˛
perispomene ͂ 
rough breathing
smooth breathing᾿
Marks sometimes used as diacritics
full stop/period.
Diacritical marks in other scripts
Arabic diacritics
Early Cyrillic diacritics
kamora ҄
pokrytie ҇
titlo ҃
Hebrew diacritics
Indic diacritics
Gurmukhī diacritics
Khmer diacritics
Thai diacritics
IPA diacritics
Japanese kana diacritics
Syriac diacritics
Dotted circle
Punctuation marks
Logic symbols

Virama (Sanskritविराम, virāma ?, Devanagari: विराम ्) is a Sanskrit phonological concept to suppress the inherent vowel that otherwise occurs with every consonant letter, commonly used as a generic term for a codepoint in Unicode, representing either

  1. halanta (Kannada: ಹಲಂತ halanta; Hindi: हलन्त halant; Mandarin: 怛達點畵 dádá diǎnhuà; Japanese: 怛達 tatatsu) or explicit virama, a diacritic in many Brahmic scripts, including the Devanagari and Eastern Nagari scripts, or
  2. saṃyuktākṣara (Sanskrit: संयुक्ताक्षर) or implicit virama, a conjunct consonant or ligature.

Unicode schemes of scripts writing Mainland Southeast Asia languages, such as that of Burmese script and of Tibetan script, generally don't group the two functions together.


The name is Sanskrit for "cessation, termination, end". As a Sanskrit word, it is used in place of several language-specific terms, such as:

Name in English books Language In native language Form Notes
halant Hindi हलन्त, halant ?
halanta Punjabi ਹਲੰਤ, halanta ?
Marathi हलंत, halanta ?
Kannada ಹಲಂತ, halanta ?
Odia ହଳନ୍ତ, haḷanta ?
hoshonto Bengali হসন্ত, hôsôntô ?
Assamese হসন্ত, hoxonto / হছন্ত, hosonto ?
Sylheti ꠢꠡꠘ꠆ꠔꠧ, ośonto ?
pollu Telugu పొల్లు, pollu ?
pulli Tamil புள்ளி, puḷḷi ?
chandrakkala Malayalam ചന്ദ്രക്കല, candrakkala / വിരാമം, viraamam ?
hal kirima Sinhalese හල් කිරිම, hal kirīma ?
a that Burmese အသတ်, a.satIPA: [ʔa̰θaʔ] ? lit. "nonexistence"
karan, pinthu, thanthakhat Thai การันต์, kārạnt[1][2] / พินทุ, pinthu / ทัณฑฆาต, thanthakhat ?[3][4] pinthu is akin to Sanskrit bindu, and means "point" or "dot"
pangkon Javanese ꦥꦁꦏꦺꦴꦤ꧀, pangkon ?
pangkon Balinese ᬧᬂᬓᭀᬦ᭄, pangkon ? Also called adeg-adeg
sukun Divehi Dhivehi: ސުކުން ް


In Devanagari and many other Indic scripts, a virama is used to cancel the inherent vowel of a consonant letter and represent a consonant without a vowel, a "dead" consonant. For example, in Devanagari,

  1. is a consonant letter, ka,
  2. ् is a virama; therefore,
  3. क् (ka + virama) represents a dead consonant k.

If this k क् is further followed by another consonant letter, for example, ṣa , the result might look like क्‌ष, which represents kṣa as ka + (visible) virama + ṣa. In this case, two elements k क् and ṣa are simply placed one by one, side by side. Alternatively, kṣa can be also written as a ligature क्ष, which is actually the preferred form. Generally, when a dead consonant letter C1 and another consonant letter C2 are conjoined, the result may be:

  1. A fully conjoined ligature of C1+C2;
  2. Half-conjoined—
    • C1-conjoining: a modified form (half form) of C1 attached to the original form (full form) of C2
    • C2-conjoining: a modified form of C2 attached to the full form of C1; or
  3. Non-ligated: full forms of C1 and C2 with a visible virama.[5]

If the result is fully or half-conjoined, the (conceptual) virama which made C1 dead becomes invisible, logically existing only in a character encoding scheme such as ISCII or Unicode. If the result is not ligated, a virama is visible, attached to C1, actually written.

Basically, those differences are only glyph variants, and three forms are semantically identical. Although there may be a preferred form for a given consonant cluster in each language and some scripts do not have some kind of ligatures or half forms at all, it is generally acceptable to use a nonligature form instead of a ligature form even when the latter is preferred if the font does not have a glyph for the ligature. In some other cases, whether to use a ligature or not is just a matter of taste.

The virama in the sequence C1 + virama + C2 may thus work as an invisible control character to ligate C1 and C2 in Unicode. For example,

  • ka + virama + ṣa = kṣa क्ष

is a fully conjoined ligature. It is also possible that the virama does not ligate C1 and C2, leaving the full forms of C1 and C2 as they are:

  • ka + virama + ṣa = kṣa क्‌ष

is an example of such a non-ligated form.

The sequences ङ्क ङ्ख ङ्ग ङ्घ [ŋka ŋkʰa ŋɡa ŋɡʱa], in common Sanskrit orthography, should be written as conjuncts (the virama and the top cross line of the second letter disappear, and what is left of the second letter is written under the ङ and joined to it).

End of word[edit]

The inherent vowel is not always pronounced, in particular at the end of a word (schwa deletion). No virama is used for vowel suppression in such cases. Instead, the orthography is based on Sanskrit where all inherent vowels are pronounced, and leaves to the reader of modern languages to delete the schwa when appropriate.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "คำศัพท์ การันต์ แปลว่าอะไร?". Longdo Dict.
  2. ^ th:การันต์
  3. ^ "คำศัพท์ ทัณฑฆาต แปลว่าอะไร?". Longdo Dict.
  4. ^ th:ทัณฑฆาต
  5. ^ Constable, Peter (2004). "Clarification of the Use of Zero Width Joiner in Indic Scripts" (PDF). Public Review Issue #37. Unicode, Inc. Retrieved 2009-11-19. External link in |work= (help)
  6. ^ Akira Nakanishi: Writing Systems of the World, ISBN 0-8048-1654-9, pp. 48.

External links[edit]