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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

Q (/[unsupported input]ˈkjuː/; named cue)[1] is the seventeenth letter of the basic modern Latin alphabet.


Egyptian hieroglyph
Etruscan Q Greek
PhoenicianQ-01.png EtruscanQ-01.svg GreekQ-01.png

The Semitic sound value of Qôp (perhaps originally qaw, "cord of wool", and possibly based on an Egyptian hieroglyph) was /q/ (voiceless uvular plosive), a sound common to Semitic languages, but not found in English or most Indo-European ones. In Greek, this sign as Qoppa Ϙ probably came to represent several labialized velar plosives, among them /kʷ/ and /kʷʰ/. As a result of later sound shifts, these sounds in Greek changed to /p/ and /pʰ/ respectively. Therefore, Qoppa was transformed into two letters: Qoppa, which stood for a number only, and Phi Φ which stood for the aspirated sound /pʰ/ that came to be pronounced /f/ in Modern Greek.

In the earliest Latin inscriptions, the letters C, K and Q were all used to represent the sounds /k/ and /g/ (which were not differentiated in writing). Of these, Q was used to represent /k/ or /g/ before a rounded vowel (e.g. "EQO" = ego), K before /a/, and C elsewhere. Later, the use of C (and its variant G) replaced most usages of K and Q: Q survived only to represent /k/ when immediately followed by a /w/ sound.[2]

The Etruscans used Q only in conjunction with V to represent /kʷ/


In most modern western languages written in Latin script, such as in Romance and Germanic languages, ‹q› appears almost exclusively in the digraph ‹qu› (e.g. quick, quit, quack), though see Q without U.

  • In English this digraph most often denotes the cluster /kw/, except in borrowings from French where it represents /k/ as in plaque. Q is the second most rarely used letter in the English alphabet.
  • In Italian ‹qu› represents /kw/ (where /w/ is the semivowel allophone of /u/)
  • In Spanish, French, Occitan, Catalan and Portuguese, ‹qu› represents /k/ or /kw/; ‹qu› replaces ‹c› for /k/ before front vowels ‹i› and ‹e›, since in those languages 'c' represents a fricative or affricate before front vowels.

In Chinese Hanyu Pinyin, ‹q› is used to represent the sound [tɕʰ], which is close to English ‹ch› in "cheese", but pronounced further toward the front of the mouth.

In Fijian, ‹q› represents the prenasalized voiced velar plosive [ŋɡ].

In Xhosa and Zulu, ‹q› represents the postalveolar click [kǃ].

In Kiowa, ‹q› represents a glottalized velar plosive, /kʼ/.

In Võro and Maltese, ‹q› represents the glottal stop.

A comparison of q and g.

The lowercase Q is usually seen as a lowercase O with a descender (i.e., downward vertical tail) extending from the right side of the bowl, with or without a swash (i.e., flourish). The lowercase Q's descender is usually typed without a swash due to the major style difference typically seen between the descenders of the lowercase G (a loop) and lowercase Q (vertical). The descender of the lowercase Q is sometimes handwritten finishing with a rightward swash to distinguish from the leftward facing curved descender on the lowercase G.

In physics, Q and q are used to denote electric charge; Q is used for energy (especially in a form of heat).

Computing codes

Alternative representations of Q
NATO phonetic Morse code
Quebec – – · –
ICS Quebec.svg Semaphore Quebec.svg ⠟
Signal flag Flag semaphore Braille

In Unicode (Basic Multilingual Plane), the capital Q is codepoint U+0051 and the lower case q is U+0071.

The ASCII hexadecimal codes for capital Q and lowercase q are 51 and 71, respectively. These are equivalent to 81 and 113 in ASCII decimal, and ASCII binary 01010001 and 01110001.

In ASCII octal "Q" is represented by 121 and "q" by 161. The advantage of octal over hexadecimal is that it requires only digits 0 through 7 as opposed to hexadecimal's need for A through F for values exceeding 9. Octal continues use in the Unix/Linux command line (c.f. "chmod", etc.).

The UTF-EBCDIC code for capital Q is 216 and for lowercase q is 152.

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

See also


  1. "Q" Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993); "que," op. cit.
  2. Sihler, Andrew L. (1995). New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin (illustrated ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 21. ISBN 0195083458.

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