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The Latin alphabet
Aa Bb Cc Dd
Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj
Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp
Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv
Ww Xx Yy Zz
Y cursiva.gif

Y is the twenty-fifth (number 25) letter in the English alphabet.[1] It is sometimes considered a vowel. In words like say, yell, and they, the Y is a consonant. In words like sty, cry, and fly, the Y is considered a vowel.

Where it came from

Semitic, Phoenician, Greek and Latin

An early Semitic version of the letter waw.
The later Phoenician version of waw.

"Y" has appeared as the Semitic letter "waw". This was the first time it appeared in an alphabet. F, U, V, and W also come from the Semitic alphabet. The Greek and Latin alphabets used the Phoenician form of this early alphabet. There are similarities to the old English letter yogh (Ȝȝ). The table shows where the letter "y" came from.

Where the English letter "Y" came from
Phoenician Greek Latin English (approximate times of changes)
Old Middle Now
Phoenician waw.svg Upsilon uc lc.svg 75x U → 75x/U/UU → 75x/U/75x
75x 75x (vowel /y/) 75x (vowel /i/) 75x (vowels)
Phoenician gimel.svg Gamma uc lc.svg C →
G → Ȝ → G →
consonantal 75x /j/ 75x (consonant)
Þ → 75x /th/ -

Meanings for Y


  1. "Y" Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993); "wy," op. cit.