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Basic 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

L (/[unsupported input]ˈɛl/; named el, rarely ell)[1] is the twelfth letter of the basic modern Latin alphabet.


Egyptian hieroglyph Proto-Semitic Lamd Phoenician
Etruscan L Greek
Proto-semiticL-01.png PhoenicianL-01.png EtruscanL-01.png Lambda uc lc.svg

Lamedh is believed to have come from a pictogram of an ox goad or cattle prod. Some have suggested a shepherd's staff.


In English, L can have several values, depending on whether it occurs before or after a vowel. The alveolar lateral approximant (the sound which the IPA uses the lowercase [l] to represent) occurs before a vowel, as in lip or please, while the velarized alveolar lateral approximant (IPA [ɫ]) occurs in bell and milk (see Velarized alveolar lateral approximant). This velarization does not occur in many European languages that use L; it is also a factor making the pronunciation of L difficult for users of languages that either lack, or have different values, for L^, such as Japanese or some southern dialects of Chinese.

L can occur before almost any plosive, fricative, or affricate in English. Common digraphs include LL, which has a value identical to L in English, but has the separate value voiceless alveolar lateral fricative (IPA /ɬ/) in Welsh, where it can appear in an initial position.

A palatal lateral approximant or palatal L (IPA /ʎ/) occurs in many languages, and is represented by GL in Italian, LL in Spanish and Catalan, LH in Portuguese, and Ļ in Latvian.

In English writing, L is often silent in such words as walk or could (its presence modifies other letters' sounds, i.e. 'wak' might be more likely to be pronounced such that it would rhyme with 'back').

Currency signs

The capital letter L is used as the currency sign for the Albanian lek and the Honduran lempira. It is also infrequently used as a substitute for the pound sign, which it resembles.

Codes for computing

Alternative representations of L
NATO phonetic Morse code
Lima ·–··
ICS Lima.svg Semaphore Lima.svg ⠇
Signal flag Flag semaphore Braille

In some fonts, a lowercase l may be difficult to distinguish from a 1 (one) or an uppercase letter I (i). A more stylized version based on the handwritten ℓ is sometimes used in mathematics and elsewhere. Its codepoint is U+2113 and its numeric character reference is "ℓ". Capital I (i) can also be hard to distinguish from a lowercase l (L), as many fonts use a vertical bar for both of these characters. In recent times, many new fonts have curved the lower-case form to the right and it is increasingly common, especially on European road signs and advertisements.

The ASCII code for capital L is 76 and for lowercase l is 108; or in binary 01001100 and 01101100.

The EBCDIC code for capital L is 211 and for lowercase l is 147.

The numeric character references in HTML and XML are "L" and "l" for upper and lower case respectively.

See also


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

ace:L af:L als:L ar:L an:L arc:L ast:L az:L zh-min-nan:L be:L, літара be-x-old:L (літара) bs:L br:L (lizherenn) ca:L cs:L co:L cy:L da:L de:L et:L el:L es:L eo:L eu:L fa:L fr:L (lettre) fy:L fur:L gv:Lhouan gd:L gl:L gan:L xal:L үзг ko:L hr:L id:L ilo:L is:L it:L he:L ka:L kw:L sw:L ht:L ku:L (tîp) la:L lv:L lb:L lt:L hu:L mk:L (Латиница) mr:L mzn:L ms:L my:L nah:L nl:L (letter) ja:L no:L nn:L nrm:L uz:L (harf) pl:L pt:L ro:L qu:L ru:L (латиница) se:L stq:L scn:L simple:L sk:L sl:L sr:L (слово латинице) sh:L fi:L sv:L tl:L th:L tr:L (harf) uk:L (латиниця) vec:L vi:L vo:L war:L yi:L yo:L zh-yue:L diq:L bat-smg:L zh:L