|Look up Z or z in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Basic Latin alphabet|
Name and pronunciation
In most dialects of English, the letter's name is zed (/[unsupported input]/) reflecting its derivation from the Greek zeta but in American English, its name is zee (/[unsupported input]/), deriving from a late 17th century English dialectal form.
Other languages spell the letter's name in a similar way: zeta in Italian and in Spanish, zäta in Swedish, zet in Dutch, Polish, German, Romanian and Czech, zæt in Danish, zett in Norwegian, zède in French, and zê in Portuguese.
Several languages lacking the /z/ phoneme render it as /ts/, e.g. zeta /tsetɑ/ or /tset/ in Finnish. In Chinese (Mandarin) pinyin the name of the letter Z is pronounced [tsɛ], although the English zed and zee have become very common.
Another English dialectal form is izzard (/[unsupported input]/). It dates from the mid-18th century and probably derives from Occitan izèda or the French ézed, whose reconstructed Latin form would be *idzēta, perhaps a popular form with a prosthetic vowel.
The name of the Semitic symbol was zayin, possibly meaning "weapon", and was the seventh letter. It represented either z as in English and French, or possibly more like /dz/ (as in Italian zeta, zero).
The Greek form of Z was a close copy of the Phoenician symbol I, and the Greek inscriptional form remained in this shape throughout ancient times. The Greeks called it zeta, a new name made in imitation of eta (η) and theta (θ).
In earlier Greek of Athens and Northwest Greece, the letter seems to have represented /dz/; in Attic, from the 4th century BC onwards, it seems to have been either /zd/ or a /dz/, and in fact there is no consensus concerning this issue. In other dialects, as Elean and Cretan, the symbol seems to have been used for sounds resembling the English voiced and unvoiced th (IPA /ð/ and /θ/, respectively). In the common dialect (κοινη) that succeeded the older dialects, ζ became /z/, as it remains in modern Greek.
In Etruscan, Z may have represented /ts/.
In Old Latin, the consonant /z/ (written s) developed into /r/ by rhotacism and a symbol for /z/ became useless. It was therefore removed from the alphabet around 300 BC by the Censor Appius Claudius Caecus, and a new letter, G, was put in its place soon thereafter.
In the 1st century BC, Z was introduced again at the end of the Latin alphabet to accurately represent the sound of the Greek zeta. The letter Z appeared only in Greek words, and is the only letter besides Y that the Romans took directly from Greek, rather than from Etruscan.
Earlier zeta was transliterated as s at the beginning and ss in the middle of words, as in sōna for ζώνη "belt" and trapessita for τραπεζίτης "banker".
In Vulgar Latin, Greek zeta seems to have represented (IPA /dj/), and later (IPA /dz/); d replaced /z/ in words like baptidiare for baptizare "baptize", while conversely Z appears for /di/ in forms like zaconus, zabulus, for diaconus "deacon", diabulus, "devil". Z was also written for the consonant J, which changed from an approximant in Latin to a fricative in the Romance languages, as in zunior for junior "younger".
Last letter of the alphabet
In earlier times, the English alphabets used by children terminated not with Z but with & or related typographic symbols. In her 1859 novel Adam Bede, George Eliot refers to Z being followed by & when she makes Jacob Storey say, "He thought it [Z] had only been put to finish off th' alphabet like; though ampusand would ha' done as well, for what he could see."
A glyph variant of Z originating in the medieval Gothic minuscules and the Early Modern Blackletter typefaces is the "tailed z" (German geschwänztes Z, also Z mit Unterschlinge). In some Antiqua typefaces, this letter is present as a standalone letter or in ligatures. Together with long s (ſ), it is the origin of the ß ligature in the German alphabet.
Z in an Antiqua typeface may be identical with the character representing 3 in other fonts.
lowercase cursive z
In Italian, Z represents two phonemes, /ts/ and /dz/; in German, it stands for /ts/; in Castilian Spanish it represents /θ/ (as English th in thing), though in other dialects (Latin American, Andalusian) this sound has merged with /s/.
Early English used S alone for both the unvoiced and the voiced sibilant. The Latin sound imported through French was new and was not written with Z but with G or I. The successive changes can be well seen in the double forms from the same original, jealous and zealous. Both of these come from a late Latin zelosus, derived from the imported Greek ζῆλος zêlos. The earlier form is jealous; its initial sound is the [dʒ] which developed to Modern French [ʒ]. John Wycliffe wrote the word as gelows or ielous.
Few words in the Basic English vocabulary begin with Z, though it occurs in words beginning with other letters. It is the most rarely used letter in written English. It is more common in American English than in British English, as with the endings -ize/-ise and -ization/-isation, where the American spelling is derived from Greek and the British from French. One native Germanic English word that contains z, freeze (past froze, participle frozen) came to be spelled that way by convention, even though it could have been spelled with s (as with choose, chose, chosen).
In Finnish, Z is pronounced /ts/. Officially the sound [z] would appear in certain select loanwords such as azeri, but in practice [z] is heard and pronounced as /s/ in such words. The use of Z to denote /ts/ is discouraged in official language, as in the case of pitsa ("pizza").
International Phonetic Alphabet
Z is used in six of the seven officially recognized digraphs in the Polish language, and is the most frequently used of the consonants in that language.
Z was replaced with s in Icelandic in 1973, as in íslenska "Icelandic (language)" (formerly íslenzka in Old Icelandic). Here the combination of the d of Ísland and the s of -(i)sk was spelled z, representing ts.
Codes for computing
The EBCDIC code for capital Z is 233 and for lowercase z is 169.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Z.|
- "Z" Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster's Third New International
- One early use of "zee": Lye, Thomas (1969) [2nd ed., London, 1677]. A new spelling book, 1677. Menston, (Yorks.) Scolar P. p. 24. LCCN 70-407159.
Zee Za-cha-ry, Zion, zeal
- George Eliot: Adam Bede. Chapter XXI. online at Project Gutenberg
- "asset". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 3rd ed. 2001.
- English letter frequencies
|Look up Z or z in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
ace:Z af:Z als:Z ar:Z an:Z arc:Z ast:Z az:Z zh-min-nan:Z be:Z, літара be-x-old:Z (літара) bs:Z br:Z ca:Z cs:Z co:Z cy:Z da:Z de:Z et:Z el:Z eml:Z es:Z eo:Z eu:Z fa:Z fr:Z (lettre) fy:Z fur:Z gv:Z (lettyr) gd:Z gl:Z gan:Z xal:Z үзг ko:Z hr:Z ilo:Z id:Z is:Z it:Z he:Z ka:Z kw:Z sw:Z ht:Z ku:Z (tîp) la:Z lv:Z lt:Z hu:Z mk:Z (Латиница) mzn:Z ms:Z nah:Z nl:Z (letter) ja:Z no:Z nn:Z nrm:Z uz:Z (harf) pl:Z pt:Z ro:Z qu:Z ru:Z (латиница) se:Z stq:Z scn:Z simple:Z sk:Z sl:Z sr:Z (слово латинице) sh:Z fi:Z sv:Z tl:Z th:Z tr:Z (harf) uk:Z (латиниця) vi:Z vo:Z war:Z yi:Z yo:Z zh-yue:Z bat-smg:Z zh:Z