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Virama (Sanskrit: विराम/हलन्त, romanizedvirāma/halanta ्) 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, hasanta or explicit virāma, a diacritic in many Brahmic scripts, including the Devanagari and Bengali 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 do not 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 हलन्त, halanta
Nepali हलन्त, halanta
Kannada ಹಲಂತ, halanta
Odia ହଳନ୍ତ, hôḷôntô
Gujarati હાલાંત, hālānta
hosonto Bengali হসন্ত, hôsôntô
Assamese হসন্ত, hoxonto / হছন্ত, hosonto
Sylheti ꠢꠡꠘ꠆ꠔꠧ, hośonto ◌ ꠆
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.sat, IPA: [ʔa̰θaʔ] lit. "nonexistence"
viream Khmer វិរាម, vīrāma
toandokheat ទណ្ឌឃាត, toandokheat
karan, thanthakhat Thai การันต์, kārạnt[1][2] / ทัณฑฆาต, thanthakhat[3][4] ◌์ Thanthakhat is the name of the diacritic, while karan refers to the character that was marked. These two terms are often used interchangeably. It is used to mark as silent vowels or consonants that were originally pronounced, but have become silenced in Thai pronunciation (mostly from Sanskrit and Old Khmer). This diacritic is sometimes used in loanwords from European languages to mark final consonants in consonant clusters (e.g. want as วอนท์).
pinthu พินทุ, pinthu ◌ฺ Pinthu is akin to Sanskrit bindu, and means "point" or "dot". It is used to mark a syllable as closed, and it is only used in Thai script when writing Pali or Sanskrit.
nikkhahit นฤคหิต / นิคหิต ◌ํ Nikkhahit represents what was originally anusvāra in Sanskrit. Like pinthu, it is also only used when writing Pali or Sanskrit in Thai script. It marks a syllable as nasalized, realized in Thai as a nasal closed consonant following the vowel.
rahaam Northern Thai (Lanna) ᩁᩉ᩶ᩣ᩠ᨾ, rahaam[5] ◌᩺
Tai Khün ◌᩼
Tai Lue ◌᩼
pangkon Javanese ꦥꦁꦏꦺꦴꦤ꧀, pangkon ◌꧀
Balinese ᬧᬂᬓᭀᬦ᭄, pangkon ◌᭄ Also called adeg-adeg
sukun Dhivehi Dhivehi: ސުކުން, sukun ް◌ Derives from Arabic "sukun"
Srog med Tibetan Srog med Only used when transcribing Sanskrit


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 virāma; therefore,
  3. क् (ka + virāma) represents a dead consonant k.

If this k क् is further followed by another consonant letter, for example, ṣa ष, the result might look like क्‌ष, which represents kṣa as ka + (visible) virāma + ṣa. In this case, two elements k क् and ṣa ष 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.[6]

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

  • ka क + virāma + ṣa ष = kṣa क्ष

is a fully conjoined ligature. It is also possible that the virāma 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 [ṅka ṅkha ṅɡa ṅɡha], in common Sanskrit orthography, should be written as conjuncts (the virāma 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 virāma 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.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "คำศัพท์ การันต์ แปลว่าอะไร?". Longdo Dict.
  2. ^ th:การันต์
  3. ^ "คำศัพท์ ทัณฑฆาต แปลว่าอะไร?". Longdo Dict.
  4. ^ th:ทัณฑฆาต
  5. ^ "Tai Tham" (PDF). The Unicode Standard. Retrieved 30 July 2022.
  6. ^ 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. {{cite web}}: External link in |work= (help)
  7. ^ Akira Nakanishi: Writing Systems of the World, ISBN 0-8048-1654-9, pp. 48.

External links[edit]