Want to meet two extinct letters of the alphabet? Learn what “thorn” and “wynn” sounded like

The English alphabet, as you likely know, is made up of 26 letters.

But it wasn’t always that way.

Before we get to which letters were late additions, let’s explain a bit about Old English. English was first written in the Anglo-Saxon futhorc runic alphabet, also known as Anglo-Saxon. The Angles and Saxons came from Germany and settled in Britain in the fifth century. The region they inhabited became known as “Angle-land,” or “England.”

Eventually, Christian missionaries introduced the Latin alphabet, which ultimately replaced Anglo-Saxon. But for some time, the alphabet included the letters of the Latin alphabet, some symbols (like the ampersand), and some letters of Old English.

As Modern English evolved, the Old English letters were dropped or replaced.

(Our trusty alphabet isn’t the only part of language that has changed — October used to be the eighth month, and September the seventh. What happened? Find out here.)

Here’s an example: In Old English, a letter called “thorn” represented the “th” sound (as in “that”) in Modern English. In the Latin alphabet, the “y” was the symbol that most closely resembled the character that represented thorn. So, thorn was dropped and “y” took its place. (But is “y” a vowel or a consonant? We explore the dilemma here.)

That is why the word “ye,” as in “Ye Olde Booke Shoppe,” is an archaic spelling of “the.”

The Old English letter “wynn” was replaced by “uu,” which eventually developed into the modern w. (It really is a double u.)

The letters “u” and “j” didn’t join what we know as the alphabet until the sixteenth century.

Now consider ancient history influences days of the week. Who is the attractive goddess that Friday is named for? Here’s that odd and entertaining story.

RESTAURANT REQUESTS; Chicken salad recipe from Kozlak’s Royal Oak.(TASTE) see here chicken salad sandwich recipe

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN) January 11, 2001 | Osby, Diane Q. I would like the almond chicken salad sandwich recipe from Kozlak’s Royal Oak Restaurant.

- Peggy Louis, Cannon Falls A. Here is the chicken salad recipe sent from Kozlak’s Royal Oak Restaurant, 4785 Hodgson Rd., Shoreview.

Kozlak’s Royal Oak Restaurant Almond Chicken Salad X Makes 6 cups.

- 2 (10-oz.) cans chicken – 6 green onions, chopped – 4 ribs celery, chopped – 1 c. sliced almonds, toasted – 1 (7-oz.) jar red pepper, rinsed, drained and diced – 1 1/2 c. mayonnaise – Salt and white pepper to taste In a bowl, combine chicken, onions, celery, almonds and red pepper. Add mayonnaise, salt and white pepper to taste. Chill. Serve with your choice of bread. web site chicken salad sandwich recipe

Nutrition information per 1/4 cup serving:

Calories 165 Carbohydrates 2 g Protein 6 g Fat 15 g including sat. fat 2 g Cholesterol 23 mg Sodium 221 mg Calcium 22 mg Dietary fiber 1 g Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 med-fat meat exch., and 2 fat exch.

X Recipe has been tested.

Osby, Diane


  1. kit -  February 25, 2015 - 3:30 pm

    Does anyone else notice how in some very important older documents and such, the “s” looks like it is a “f” instead?

  2. Reane McGuinness -  December 6, 2014 - 7:21 pm

    There is actually 28 letters in the alphebet.

    • NMcLean -  January 7, 2015 - 3:14 pm

      There are is correct, not there is. :)

    • Michael -  January 23, 2015 - 10:23 am

      I am trying to find a written example of where i understand that in old english the second “s” in a double “s” was often written in a manner that resembled an “h”

      • Page -  March 6, 2015 - 4:40 pm

        Are you thinking of when a long s and a short s are used in the middle of a word with a double s? Such as “miſsion” instead of “miſſion” or the modern “mission”

      • STEPHEN -  March 12, 2015 - 4:38 am

        All the states in Germany used different Letters and a person Condensed the language so the ” Dem deutche folk” could learn at school and not pay somebody to do it for you…Hitler. The schaftless S and the ulaut survived. You see the long S as in strasser .

  3. Reane McGuinness -  December 6, 2014 - 7:19 pm

    There are actually 28 letters in the alphabet.

    • tonycaudil -  February 27, 2015 - 8:00 am

      Unless I have 6 fingers on each hand there ARE
      26 letters in the alphabet.

  4. sample of order letter in philippines -  November 25, 2014 - 3:41 am

    […] The alphabet used to have other letters — meet two The english alphabet, as you likely know, is made up of 26 letters. but it wasn’t always that way. before we get to which letters were late additions, let’s. […]

  5. order letter with example -  November 14, 2014 - 5:17 am

    […] The alphabet used to have other letters — meet two The english alphabet, as you likely know, is made up of 26 letters. english was first written in the anglo-saxon . . . see more. […]

  6. Darwin -  September 12, 2014 - 9:35 pm

    I enjoy what you guys tend to be up too. This kind of clever work and coverage!
    Keep up the excellent works guys I’ve you guys to our blogroll.

  7. harley -  March 30, 2014 - 1:12 pm

    @jay kruse in it”s original pronounceing u would make the k hard then roll the r like in germanany or spainish if it”s easey the u would have the umlaut makeing it like oe/oo and the se as see and or ond in old English would have meant cross. my last name is supposed to have the umlaut over the o making it go:ff the double ff is like a single f n slightly like a v I hope I helped u

    • SONU NIGAM RAJPUR -  October 27, 2014 - 6:47 am

      I l u

    • chas -  December 27, 2014 - 8:38 am

      thanks, informative but would have been better if you could spell.

    • tonycaudil -  February 27, 2015 - 8:03 am

      Huh ? Did not follow that post.

      • Vic -  March 27, 2015 - 7:38 am

        ‘texting’ or ‘txtng’ seems to be destroying our ability to communicate clearly, as does that damnable ‘auto-correct.’
        I hope people know that auto-correct is an option they can turn off.

  8. harley -  March 30, 2014 - 12:25 pm

    @Glitchy the y with out a dot was pronounced like a u like ypsolon in old English or middle English u would have used thou for you in some places ther was a y with a dot above it was pronounced eye or ie another letter im teaching my daughter n her teachers whene she has teachers to teach lol

  9. harley -  March 30, 2014 - 12:04 pm

    @nick if u translate the end of your comment it would read that was good king it”s from Beowulf the o in god is supposed to have a dot over the o it was pronounced like oo im teaching the o with a dot to my baby as well as all her teachers whene she goes to school. the c was pronounced like the k

  10. harley -  March 30, 2014 - 11:47 am

    @odin”s-Boy the ruinc symbol of ingwaz or ng was a x with two diamonds set on top of each outher im nat sure why more people aren’t taught of these letters their part of English it would be easer in writing,im going to teach them to my one year ond daughter lol I accadentley said and before I wrought daughter ha ha her name ist aanaztarc.ia ist was used in middle English or is it aenglish :-)

    • tonycaudil -  February 27, 2015 - 8:08 am

      Harley……. YOU need to learn the English spelling, yourself, before teaching ANY child. Poor thing would be embarrassed in school, every day.

  11. harley -  March 30, 2014 - 11:14 am

    I have a one year daughter n I have included da ae ,oe ,thorn ,sh ,ng, and ,yoga in da alphabeta and will be giving a copy to all of her teachers whene she starts school oh n the umlaut like da doted letter c. or the y with a dot n her middle name has da thorn in it her middle name is lylythzee but u put da umlaut over da e e n a dot over the y n a thorn for the th it means sea of lillis

    • Vic -  March 27, 2015 - 7:42 am

      This just doesn’t work when you txt it, dude. You cannot be righteous and wrong all at the same time.

  12. Kate -  March 5, 2014 - 4:27 am

    Just wondering what the QWERTY keyboard would look like with these changes. All of us would have to go back to typing class.

  13. Ralph Morgan Lewis -  January 22, 2014 - 9:11 pm

    For Mr. Kruse: German pronunciation is kru-zuh with u like that in cool. Many families anglicized the pronunciation to sound less German, especially during WW 1 and WW 2.

    In many languages, the polite form for “you” was based on the 3rd person pronouns, as in the use of 3rd person when addressing royalty. 2nd person pronouns (German “du”, plural “ihr”) are used for family, close friends, or children. The polite form “Sie” uses 3d person plural verb forms when addressing one or several people. Other languages, likewise use a 3rd person form for polite (Spanish “Usted”, pl. “Ustedes”; French “vous” for both singular & plural; Italian “Lei”, pl. “Loro”)

  14. Ralph Morgan Lewis -  January 22, 2014 - 8:31 pm

    Your statement concerning Old English thorn [ ϸ ] is incorrect: it represented the voiceless th sound in think, thought, with. The voiced th sound of the, this, that, then was represented by edh [ ð ] the large form of which resembled a Y and thus led to confusion.

    • Willard -  January 16, 2015 - 9:45 pm

      The modern Icelandic alphabet includes thorn & edh.

  15. Ye Olde Fenwick & wolf tamer and tree puncher -  December 11, 2013 - 3:27 am

    I always thought “ye” was like “you.”
    Signed, Ye Olde Fenwick*

    *If you’ve read the 39 Clues, you should know who I am.

    I’m glad neither “w” nor “th” are in my name. (My real name, not my screen name.) Minecrafters forever!!
    -A wolf tamer and tree puncher

  16. Lawrence -  July 10, 2013 - 5:01 am

    What would happen if I spelled my name out and said double v instead of double u? Do you think they would get it?

  17. yayapapaya -  June 11, 2013 - 1:41 am

    wait. it’s 4.40 pm on my clock.

  18. yayapapaya -  June 11, 2013 - 1:39 am


  19. Hector -  January 5, 2013 - 3:34 pm

    Bless all you guys. Not because you’re so damn smart, but
    because you’re so damn curious about this kind of stuff. Long
    live the Geeks of the world.

  20. Diana -  September 26, 2012 - 4:45 pm

    **crazy, I just realized that’s how you pronounce ‘ear’. This is now embarrassing. And yet there is still a difference! But this is not article-relevant, so accept the nit-picking apology and ignore me.

  21. Diana -  September 26, 2012 - 4:42 pm

    To Everybody: Thanks for the healthy discussion, this adds so much more knowledge to what the article already has to offer. To Nate: I study German, and ‘ihr’ is not pronounced as ‘ear’; ‘ihr’ has a little more of an open-ended lilt to it where the r is concerned and is definitely more broken-up than smooth, kind of like pronouncing ‘e’ first and then ‘ar’. But these things are hard to explain in words, they must be heard. Sorry I’m so nit-picky, it’s a bit of a fix. :<

  22. Nathaniel -  September 18, 2012 - 10:44 am

    In Old English, it was known as “æsc”; this has become “ash” in Modern English.

    • Barfasmuel jaschqwiecz -  May 20, 2014 - 9:52 am

      No, I believe you are wrong.

      • Helgeva jaschqwiecz -  May 20, 2014 - 9:54 am

        No, he is right you idiot.

  23. Said -  September 16, 2012 - 7:03 pm

    What about the British ae symbol?

  24. Logan -  September 11, 2012 - 8:12 am

    To Dracodis: Thx 4 the info. im SO gonna tell my English teacher that!

  25. Olivia -  August 12, 2012 - 5:47 pm

    COOL! this article links to lots of other random ones but thats good and btw wynn is such a pretty word!! thorn woulda been soooooooooooo useful!!!! we need to add that back and also a letter for sh and ch. mayb ck too

    • Vic -  March 27, 2015 - 7:55 am

      I agree, except for the ck idea. ch is a sound created by the blend of the two letters.
      ck is just the k sound where the k is not influenced by the presence of the c, therefore, the c could be eliminated wherever it appears with the k.
      It would be nice to have a way to differentiate the soft c from the hard c so that correct pronunciation could be assured when reading aloud.
      Also, I just remembered: sometimes ch sounds like k and that often presents a confusion for the reader. I am told English is a difficult and hard to learn language. The more I follow this blog, the more I understand how confusing it could be to someone trying to learn it. Those of us blessed to be born into it have it easy.
      I’m having a real rough time with Spanish. To me it seems unnecessarily complicated and yet very limited in scope.

      • Vic -  March 27, 2015 - 7:59 am

        Same issue with soft g and hard g, as in gym versus goat.

  26. Glendan -  July 24, 2012 - 2:44 pm

    Just because it’s bothering me.

    First, the article says that y replaces thorn, which is not true. The letter ‘y’ was imported with the Latin alphabet, and was used by the Anglo-Saxons to represent a high front rounded vowel, such as the “ue” in Modern German.

    Second, eth and thorn were used indiscriminately. There was no distinction making one for one kind of ‘th’ and the other for another ‘th’. They both represented either kind, and were used interchangeably. The only difference was that thorn derived from the Runic alphabet, and eth derived from the Roman.

    The 3-looking letter yogh represented ‘gh’, and is derived from the old (insular) form of the letter ‘g’, as someone pointed out earlier.

  27. Nate -  July 19, 2012 - 8:19 am

    Actually, “Ye” was the second person plural pronoun which doesn’t exist as a single word in modern English and descends from the ancestor of High German’s “Ihr” (pronounced like “ear”). This was a pronoun rather than an article, also used as the possessive of the second-person plural pronoun.

    So “Ye Olde Book Shoppe” would mean “You all’s book store”, rather than simply “the bookstore.”

    I’d love you to show your research sources on this. Otherwise, excellent and informative article.

    • _______ -  January 26, 2015 - 8:18 pm

      I think it could mean either. If the ‘y’ is raised slightly over the other letters, it stands for the ‘th’, but if not, it means you. :) I’ve been studying old manuscripts, letters, and such for school… but just warning you, I’m no authority on the subject, that’s just my thought.

    • Luca -  March 27, 2015 - 12:10 pm

      No. People today pretending to sound archaic and saying “Ye olde” = “The old”: þ looks like y, apparently, so in the very early press when they couldn’t write þ they used y. And ofc þe is the. Ye as an actual word was the second person plural subjective pronoun. A very simple google search will tell you all, but let me help you: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ye

  28. Me -  July 16, 2012 - 9:43 pm


  29. Paul -  July 14, 2012 - 10:57 am

    Written and spoken English kan be improved. A few suggestions:

    -abandon digrafs such as ‘th’ and ‘ph’ unless one means to pronounse þem as in Latin;
    -restore usage of ye as þe sekond person plural pronoun;
    -use distinkt endings for verbs and nouns according both to their kase (subjektive, objektive, etk.) and number; and
    -eliminate redundant konsonants exsept as needed for foreign words and frases not yet kommon in English. C and Q come to mind.

    Þe þird, restoring inflektions, would permit more flexible word order þat, in turn, would inkrease þe amount of meaning konveyable wiþ a given number of words. Using þorn would be a praktical way to improve one’s visual akuity, too.

    Difþongs, also, kould be changed or added. For example, Powl, instead of Paul, to indikate the pronunsiation used in klassikal Latin. In fakt, why not use π instead of p to sπell πronunsiation? Op peπlase r wiþ po in πponunsiation?

    Wpitten and sπoken English kan be imπpoved, and fop þose of us in Amepika þe imπrovements would have addishional utility: To seπapate oupselves fpom tpoublemakeps like Demokpats, Peπublikans, and the lawyeps of þe Fedepalist Sosiety.

    Now, wut about ‘ch’, ‘ng’, and ‘sh’?

  30. David JM -  July 5, 2012 - 7:05 am

    A New Zealander comments that he hasn’t seen Q on a British numberplate. It does occur, but as other letters are used to denote the age of the vehicle, Q is reserved for those which have been so restored or modified that they cannot be dated. Ex-Army vehicles also have Qs because Army numberplates are distinct and cannot be used on civilian-owned vehicles.

  31. Mini Wembo -  June 27, 2012 - 11:19 am

    yis is so auusome!

  32. Raven -  June 26, 2012 - 10:53 pm

    Ƿᛝ ≠ ∞ ; Ƿᛝ = •

  33. Raven -  June 26, 2012 - 10:05 pm

    To clear up the “Y” in “ye” question: if you look closely at eth ( ð ), that little crossbar on the d-upstroke looks like a lowercase-y, and the rest of the letter below it looks like the loop on a script-y. So “ðe” looks like “ye” to someone unfamiliar with eth. And as eth is voiced-th, it is of course used to spell “the”.

  34. Raven -  June 26, 2012 - 9:57 pm

    Stewart7: Chesstnutss, my preciouss!

    “Too wise you are, too wise you be,
    I see you are too wise for me.”

  35. Stewart7 -  June 26, 2012 - 12:51 pm

    This is all fascinating, all I can say is:

    Who can translate the quickest?

  36. Peter_Mason -  June 15, 2012 - 3:36 pm

    I have never understood why there is no letter for th, one of most common sounds in the English language. I now learn that there was one and it was dropped. Why? Why? Let’s bring it back!

  37. Jarel Zen -  May 4, 2012 - 4:26 pm

    …and You said backwards is We, LOL. Many “Con-sonants” are formed by “Vow-Els”. When you say the letter “Y” it sounds like uu-i and it naturally forms a “W” between the “uu” and “i”. For instance, many people believe the Tetragrammaton is YaHWeH but it is really all Vowels (Vow-El) in the original Proto-Sinaitic AlefBet and is pronounced I-A-O-A. I as in “This”, A as in “Father”, O as in “Food” and A as in “Day”. The Consonants Y, H, and W form naturally in between the Vowels. All languages came from one. Think about the Prefixes and Suffixes Con and Able. Con (Cain) is “Against” something and Able “For” something. The original language was all vowels, it is the most beautiful thing you will most likely never hear.
    PS The Tetragrammaton really is only Three Letters and “Wav” and the second “Hay” are not part of it, although a Vowel is formed if you pronounce It properly. Exodus 3.14 is where you will find the Infinite. It is strange that men would divide the Word that way. ;-) You may even find the Center of Everything there, it is a Rush, start in the middle and go both ways. I won’t get into what you can find between the Two Pillars at the entrance to the Holy of Holies. Yeah I know, I’m off topic. Sorry but it is all relevant.

  38. Grandfather Oak -  May 1, 2012 - 1:13 pm

    The story of death and rebirth are common place during this time of year. The tale of resurrection has been told by many different people all over the world… Attis, Mithras, Adonis, Tammuz, Orpheus. and Jesus. Their stories go hand in hand with one another – Jesus being the last…. so far. I wonder who, when, where and how this amazing story will re-tell itself in the future.

    I was once Christian and I have some wonderful friends which to this day are Christians but I wanted/needed something more so i return back to my roots. Today after holding the priesthood – I am Pagan/Wiccan.

    Every man, woman and child has a right to believe whatever, whomever they like and should not this be the way of it – to do so without the hate and ugly comments made by others because a person feels, looks and worships differently.

    To all that have dared to post – Have a wonderful and full-filling life.
    Blessed Be

  39. Sthembiso -  April 11, 2012 - 9:50 am


  40. Dayb -  April 11, 2012 - 4:36 am


    That word you mentioned, “geardagum”, looks and sounds suspiciously much like the Icelandic word “gærdagur” which (in modern Icelandic anyway) means “yesterday”.

  41. Socrates -  April 10, 2012 - 2:46 pm

    In the (9-10th century) Wessobrunn poem in old-highgerman, which describes God’s creation of the earth, it reads as follows:

    “Dat ero ni uuas noh ufhimil (That earth wasn’t nor heaven above)
    noh paum noh pereg ni uuas” (nor tree or mountai, there wasn’t)

    uuas was pronounced “waas”and noh as “noch”, as in ach.
    The “w” was actually a handwritten as uu, (fusing the 2 center upstrokes into one,) rather than the vv found in print.

  42. sherryyu -  April 9, 2012 - 9:25 am

    “Great info my lads of knowledge” god would say to u guys who posted a lot of info in one comment

  43. [...] of how the alphabet relates to early civilization here: The alphabet used to have other letters — meet two | The Hot Word | Hot & Trending Words D…. 40.791389 -77.858611 Share this: Pin ItEmailShare on TumblrMorePrintDiggLike this:LikeBe the [...]

  44. DBB -  February 16, 2012 - 9:36 pm


    Yes… well, for today’s English language you can blame Johnson, the Bible, and Shakespeare, respectively. For almost two centuries, (since Gutenberg, basically) what most literate people read was the bible. The second most popular thing to read and or watch was Shakespeare, and between the two they normalized the language in such a way it hasn’t really changed much since then. Samuel Johnson was the guy who wrote the first Dictionary. He normalized spelling conventions, which before then were pretty chaotic.

    Well, if my education can be believed, anyway. It’s a pretty big generalization, but approximately correct in broad strokes. ;)

  45. Monica -  February 12, 2012 - 1:42 pm

    That whole ‘thorn’ and ‘Ye Olde Bookshop’ thing sort of just blew my mind. :D
    I love dictionary.com.

  46. Ike Rose -  November 16, 2011 - 6:03 pm

    The Thorn is still used in phonetics, where it is written like a Y that crosses it’s tail, while the other “th” sound is represented by the Greek letter Theta. (A circle with a line through it)

    According to my Phonetics professor (back in the VERY old days of my undergraduate studies), the Thorn looked a lot like a Y to very early printers, who knew the original letter. Using a “Y” to replace “TH” when setting print by hand (a very labor intensive job) meant one less little metal letter to set, but the convention was to use the Y as a Thorn only as an initial sound, as in “Ye Olde”, to avoid confusion to a newly literate middle class.

  47. Joyce -  November 8, 2011 - 5:43 am

    @ vcm on February 3, 2011 at 6:07 am: Well said, bravo! To each, his own!

    Today’s English language has a vast, complex and often fascinating history indeed… for those of us who are interested!

  48. Elise E. -  October 22, 2011 - 3:42 am

    so, before, what letter represented the “y” sound?

  49. AnWulf -  October 4, 2011 - 7:44 pm

    …So it is improper (old) English to yell “I shall run ye through with my pike!” …

    Yes, it is bad English. I assume you really talking to one person so then it would be: I shall run thee (þee) thru (þru) with my pike.

    Ye was (and still is) the second person SUBJECTIVE plural. The objective plural was you. Further, the T-V distinction (using ye as a polite form) did not happen until after the Norman conquest in 1066 and it took a couple hundred years for it to kind of take hold. In Anglo-Saxon (Old English) there was no T-V distinction (tu-vos from Latin … which, ironically, originally also did not originally use vos as a polite form). Anglo-Saxon was truly the language of equals in this regard.

    “In Old English, thou was governed by a simple rule: thou addressed one person, and ye more than one. After the Norman Conquest, which marks the beginning of the French vocabulary influence that characterized the Middle English period, thou was gradually replaced by the plural ye as the form of address for a superior person and later for an equal. …

    The practice of matching singular and plural forms with informal and formal connotations is called the T-V distinction, and in English is largely due to the influence of French.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thou

    As for how to get the letter þ … on a mac, make sure that you have the extended keyboard selected in your setup, then it is opt + t, (ð = opt +d)

    For a PC, try using AltGr+t on a modern US-International keyboard.

    • _______ -  January 26, 2015 - 8:29 pm

      I read somewhere that you used to be the polite version, and thou & thee & ye were normal then somewhere along the line they switched…. :D

  50. njwarriorprincess -  October 3, 2011 - 3:08 am

    Mr. Raymond Kenneth Petry (12 Oct ’10): Your comments are very interesting, (& most creative regdg the etymology of Schnook, I laughed…our German-speaking friends wd be quite amused by that one*) but w/ regard to the use of YHWH and JHWH which resulted in the creation and use of the word Jehovah and later, Yahweh (they did not develop from the liquid YhWh but were directly, if very inaccurately, lifted from the Hebrew scriptures)), these two words are not only fabrications based on a centuries-old, major misinterpetation of the original texts which unfortunately continues to the present; they are considered blasphemous in the Jewish faith. Once I understood the underlying meaning and the sacredness of the original terminology I came to feel the same way…below is the explanation as best I can put it:

    *http://www.etymonline.com/ http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=shnook http://www.thefreedictionary.com/schnook

    In the Hebrew scriptures, every place where the above word we know as “G-d” appears, in the text (written R->L) you’ll see four Hebrew letters: Yodh, Het, Vav, Het. Their pronunciation on their own is basically “y-h-v-h”…but keep in mind they’re all consonants (the vowel sounds are provided by additional markings above & below the letters known as points), and that w/o knowing what the vowel sounds are, you won’t have any better idea how to pronounce the word than if I wrote “lft, lttr, pst”. I could be thinking of lift, letter, post; or left, latter and past. And just as the meaning changes drastically in English, so it does in Hebrew.

    This word for G-d was so holy it was never even to be spoken aloud…The word was so ancient I am not certain if the pronunciation was in fact remembered by the time of writing. But NOBODY ever did or would, in reciting, and later reading, Scripture, look at that most holy word and say “Yhvh” or anything close. The word that was always substituted, and is used to this day, is the word “Adonoi” (another meaning for “G-d”).

    But WAIT, THERE’S MORE! When these portions of Scripture were written down, the scribes wrote the consonants Yodh-Het-Vav-Het, but used the vowel signs for Adonoi. This word is abbreviated as Yodh-yodh, or Y-y and the vowel signs are “ah-oh-aw” (sound familiar?)…and here is how we got to the awful mix-up of that most-wretchedly misinterpreted word Yahweh: the writers of Scripture wrote the four YHVH consonants, then applied the vowel signs for the word Adonoi, so that the reader would know to say “Adonoi” when he/she got to that word; and there was never confusion on this point…that is, until the Europeans came along and decided to translate it on their own. Oy, such a mess they could have saved themselves! – if they had just – asked us for a little help.

    As you’ve likely figured out by now, the older use of J for modern-day Y-beginning words, and switching of W for V, just complicated the initial error, and led to creation of the term “Jehovah”. [anybody still awake?] OK, anybody who hasn’t yet fallen asleep is now an expert on the subject of this misbegotten word. So, as no one in my parish would ever think to say…Mazel tov!

  51. njwarriorprincess -  October 3, 2011 - 1:35 am

    @ashis (21 Apr ’11): good question. The prefixes dys + dis have two totally meanings. Dys (which I believe originated from Greek) indicates a malfunction or abnormality of some sort, or impaired or difficult. Dyspepsia = indigestion. Dysfunctional = impaired or abnormal functioning; dyslexia I’m sure you recognise; and so on. Dis (from Latin) essentially = not or taking away from, or apart, away, utterly; or having some kind of negative or reversive impact. Disgust literally means take away the flavour or taste of something. Disconnect, disrobe, disappear…you get it now ;-)

    james (29 Sept ’11): I thought the same thing when I read these comments, though I’m not certain there is a relevancy/link. No doubt you’ve also encountered, in Farsi, the interesting correlation of the “pe” + “he” equalling something very near to “fe” as we in English combine p + h to obtain “f”. BTW getting a handle on Nasta’liq after a lifetime of writing in Nashq sure makes me crazy… ;-D

    crappydame (3 Sept ’11): Touché, madame!

    Sterling Grey (23 Mar ’11) & Glitchy: “I shall run ye through with my pike!” is, in fact, neither [questionable] Old English nor Pirate. It’s the standard Jersey Driverese exchange encountered on I-80 and 287 weekdays in heavy traffic.

  52. Leadmann12g -  October 2, 2011 - 11:51 am

    For: “pissed on October 12, 2010 at 4:15 am”.

    I understand that I’m a bit out of sync responding to this comment, but having learned and having used correctly the English language (and always acknowledging my errors when I make them) I’ve to comment on the above referenced post.

    If you have no interest in English grammar, spelling and etymology I can empathize, that they are very confusing and difficult to understand. However, if you plan to speak or write the English language (especially posting it on the Internet for the entire world to see) at least make sure to spell check and proof the document first (the posting referenced above a case in point).

    We in America don’t expect people to use the ‘Kings English’. However, it would be nice not to have to stop reading to make mental corrections to a document, to be clear that we understand what a person has written.

  53. Sandy -  October 1, 2011 - 5:26 am

    Interesting that the runes pictured on the left of the article are now used for divining. Perhaps there is a subtle energy or power to words and letters after all!

    • _______ -  January 26, 2015 - 8:35 pm

      they looked like the runes in the lord of the rings… I was confused for a minute… I feel stupid… Haha! :)

  54. Sarah Bohne -  September 30, 2011 - 11:18 am

    Fascinating! Glad to see i’m not the only one who could read about this all day!

  55. James -  September 29, 2011 - 2:40 pm

    About the “YOGH”, when it’s symbol is reversed, it looks like the Arabic letter (‘ayn)
    which depending upon how it’s used, may represent a glottal stop. More importantly, there is another letter, “ghain” غ
    which sound like gh. Because our alphabet is written backwards(semitic languages are written right to left), I propose the symbol was “flipped” when it came into usage as a “yogh”. In addition, the arabic-indic numeric system utilizes a similar looking numeral, ٤, to represent 4 (strange; it looks like a flipped 3, right?).

    I taught myself the Arabic alphabet and language, then transitioned to various dialects of Persian.

  56. Ian Colley -  September 22, 2011 - 6:51 am

    “put clothes on you & your families backs”

  57. Patrick Neylan -  September 9, 2011 - 10:46 am

    Thorn is still used by sign writers, especially on pub signs. People pronounce it as a ‘y’ (‘Ye Olde Pubbe’) but it’s a genuine thorn. It’s use in ordinary writing was last seen in the 17th Century.

    Most of these letters dropped out of use as printing was introduced around 1500, since the first printing presses were made on the continent and didn’t have eth, yoch or thorn.

    Yoch is still used as the lower case of z in some forms of handwriting, but in Scotland it’s often still treated as a yoch. The first name of the politician Menzies Campbell is pronounced ‘menghis’ and is abbreviated to ‘Ming’.

  58. graciel -  September 7, 2011 - 8:42 am

    oh really interesting!!!

  59. Pezski -  September 7, 2011 - 1:09 am

    @Nigel from New Zealand – Q on British car registrations is reserved for rebuilt vehicles (or kit cars, you see a few Super 7s with it), so is fairly rare.

    To the few people who asked if “ye” was never actually used for “you”, that adds another layer of confusion, as ye was (and sometimes still is) used in Scottish and English in some parts of Northern England, so you’d get a mix of “ye” and “thee”

  60. bianca -  September 6, 2011 - 8:37 pm

    omg, never knew that, like they say, u learn a new thing, EVERY DAY. haha, lol!! (;

  61. Grapefruit -  September 5, 2011 - 4:46 pm

    Interesting. I honestly don’t understand why they’ve been omitted. It would make much more sense. I also don’t feel we have a need for C (because any sound it makes could be made by K or S), unless it was changed so that it made only the “ch” (as in “chair”) sound. Q and X are rather pointless as well. I think we’d be better off if each letter only made one sound, and there was a letter for every sound. But something tells me we’re done messing with the alphabet. Too bad. :D Very interesting, thank you for sharing!

  62. Ed -  September 5, 2011 - 10:28 am

    To Sterling Grey: It surprised me to see your name (again). I used to have a close friend by that name. (He was a judge in Nashville, TN.) And, in case you wonder, I was never a hapless defendant appearing before him in his line-of-work. In fact, he played (tuba) in the same orchestra in which I played (‘cello). Sadly, he died (by his own hand) of a bullet-wound. Odd as it may seem, I also had another close friend who was a (probate) judge in Nashville, and he also died in very-much the same way. (He was a Viet Nam veteran, who suffered from either PTSD or culture-shock — we’re not quite sure which it was.)

    I enjoyed reading your erudite comments. I cannot tell where you are from, which I think would be interesting to know. You may contact me, if you wish, at echulse@yahoo.com

  63. Christopher Burd -  September 5, 2011 - 10:11 am

    In Icelandic, Þ makes the voiceless TH sound as in “thin”, and Ð makes its voiced counterpart, as in “then”.

    Weirdly, this wasn’t the case in Anglo-saxon, where the two letters were used more or less randomly. There are manuscripts that have “þæt” on one line and “ðæt” on the next. This didn’t cause any real problems in Anglo-saxon, ‘cos in fact the two sounds were just positional variants of the same phoneme (voiced between vowels, otherwise unvoiced).

    It’s not clear why they invented two letters to serve the same function. Possibly some (but not all) Christians were uncomfortable with “þ” because the association of the runic alphabet with paganism.

  64. LMFAO -  September 5, 2011 - 4:38 am

    this was quite interesting, but I think Neanderthals are what I personally could read up on all day. (I’m actually not joking, I find the idea of modern humans, homo sapiens and neanderthals really interesting. might become an archaeologist when i grow up!)

  65. Doug -  September 4, 2011 - 4:40 pm

    @Alorah – see the post of Rune (2 before yours). He’s right.

    @person – you’ve got it backwards:
    θ is unvoiced (thorn, bath, thigh),
    ð is voiced (there, tithe, bathe).

    Take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Phonetic_Alphabet
    where the unvoiced consonant of an unvoiced/voiced pair always comes first (pb, sz, …).

    @Pink – Earlier versions of English (including the modern English of Shakespeare’s era) had two words for the second person, just as do French (tu/vous), German (du, Sie), Czech (ty/vy) and myriad other languages.

    Thee and thou were forms of the familiar ‘you’; ye was plural or polite.

    Thou is nominative (thou goest, thou art, …),
    thee is objective (“How do I love thee, let me count the ways”).

    The corresponding plural (or polite singular) pronouns were ye/you. Apparently there was a time when ye was nominative, you objective, but both words eventually assumed both roles.

    I wish I could remember where … there’s a Shakespeare scene in which a man is politely referring to a woman as ‘ye,’ but as their argument becomes more heated, he switches to the informal ‘thee/thou,’ considered insulting in such a context.

  66. L -  September 4, 2011 - 10:47 am

    Good Job Hot Word! Pay no attention to ill mannered posts. Keep ‘em coming. Cheers!

  67. bu -  September 4, 2011 - 8:33 am

    &jay, if u read this…
    kruse sounds like a typically german name. your pronunciation is more or less rather near on the german one, as are the others.
    a german would pronounce it crew-se or kroo-se, with s and an e at the end (like in end).
    so, what i assume: this missing e in spoken english, at the end in kroose or cruise, should be some sort of shortening for the sake of english speakers.
    i dont know how u speak it, but your zee shouldnt be spoken like in see or sea (no difference in german speaking, its spoken like our i). just a short vocal sounding like in ‘end’.

  68. Daniel -  September 3, 2011 - 5:51 pm

    @jamesivan24 J.R.R. Tolkien was also a scholar of middle English. He understood the language’s history very well and incorporated many elements of the history into it.

    @all I know this article is older but I wanted to point out 2 things.. 1) ye in “Ye Olde Coffee Shoppe” evolved from handwritten forms of thorn which gradually shifted the loop upward similar to Wynn (after wynn had fallen out of use) and eventually was written as a y with a dot over it. That’s why y was the closest symbol. 2) ye did indeed have a second function as a totally unrelated word. It used to be the second person singular subject pronoun. “Ye are going to the store”.

  69. Erik -  September 3, 2011 - 8:44 am

    Very interesting article, thankyou. Annoy – not everything is about money and food; etymology ids an example of a civilised activity that man can perform purely for interest – it’s not supposed to be a chore, and just because it’s not directly useful to survival doesn’t make it pointless. Do you think any of science (medicine, engineering etc) would have happened if there hadn’t been concurrent development in those most reviled of learning areas, lingustic expression and maths etc.?

  70. crappydame -  September 3, 2011 - 8:33 am

    While I really enjoy most of the topics and comments on this site, it bothers me how many of the people who post seem to have totally forgotten the rules of punctuation, spelling, etc. The same goes for phone texting. Why have we decided that “R” is acceptable for “are” and “sumn” is acceptable for “something” and so on? Has society as a whole simply decided to dumb its self down for the sake of expediency?

  71. thompson -  September 3, 2011 - 5:20 am

    I’M LEARING!!!!!!!!!!!!

  72. jamesivan24 -  September 2, 2011 - 3:26 pm

    Interesting to notice when J.R.R. Tolkien took advantage of this in The Hobbit. Dwarvish runes include the letter Thorn, not with the same rune, but a similar rune: a single rune to depict the sound ‘th’ as in “THe Hobbit.” He was quite a linguistic master and that definitely contributed to creating Elvish, Dwarvish, and his other languages.

  73. Ðïðå -  May 12, 2011 - 7:37 pm

    it is right that Þ made soft, or voiceless, dental fricative like in thing, think, thin. Ð made voiced dental fricative, hard TH in this, that, breathe bathe and those. Anyone who does not want to read it does not have to, though I would say to the writer to check the facts and keep the linguistic mayhem. I would also say that too many people are happy with our language, and do not give a single thought to its origins and the sound changes it has encountered over time. :(

  74. ontoursecretly -  April 24, 2011 - 7:08 pm

    @ annoy

    [I am new, so I don't know if I'm supposed to take the bait of someone called "annoy"...]

    You got all that in English class? You were very lucky. Possibly privileged, and attending a well-funded public school, or a private one? Arguments about putting food on the table from someone in that situation strike me as moot, if not outright ridiculous. (But moot is a more fun word, so I’ll go with that one.)

  75. Ole Ed -  April 23, 2011 - 6:36 am

    I gotta stop looking things up in dictionary.com . I come in here wanting to learn the meaning of a six letter word and end up a half hour latter still reading about the alphabet. Got so engrossed I even forgot about the coffee water I had on the stove… it boiled away! I guess I’ve just got to allow more time to see what’s new in dictionary.com and be prepared to be taunted to stay longer than planned. Isn’t love grand? I love you dictionary.com !

  76. eponymy -  April 22, 2011 - 5:33 pm

    After 4 yrs. of morphology, syntax, phonology, pragmatics and crazy Chomsky’s transformational grammar and of course, his XBar theory etc– I find historical linguistics like this to be so much more fun!…Keep it coming! Thanks for the fun!

  77. Your Father -  April 22, 2011 - 5:05 am

    what did the letters look like?

  78. ashis -  April 21, 2011 - 5:09 am

    It’s an interesting hypothesis,but is it perfectly what it is?…can you explain me why the word- dysfunction is – ‘dys’ instead of ‘dis’ ?

  79. Molly -  April 20, 2011 - 1:39 pm

    cool! i wondered for some time what the deal with ‘ye’ was…

  80. Monique -  April 19, 2011 - 10:50 pm

    Always interesting to learn how our language and alphabet have evolved.

  81. toni -  April 19, 2011 - 5:15 am

    To all of those questioning the value of this topic, why are you here? If you’re not interested, go read another blog. Understanding why our language takes its present form is not just a lesson in linguistics but in history. Looking at older forms of our language can help us understand & learn other languages with similar roots, and it can help us really comprehend not only the spellings we use but the reasons for various parts of speech. It’s all part of our cultural heritage.

  82. eduardo -  April 18, 2011 - 11:34 pm

    I have a question for you guys. Why is Modern English not pronounced the same way as it is written? It seems that Old English was pronounced the same way it was written with all of those old letters which represented a sound each. I’d appreciate if an answer to this could be provided. Thanks!

  83. x -  April 18, 2011 - 11:10 pm

    Reading this, I’m really debating whether or not ‘ye’ was actually pronounced with a YEH sound for the ‘y’ at any point in time in history (save for today where we know so little), since if the y was a substitute for thorne then ye=THee makes absolute and perfect sense both on a pronunciation front AND meaning on all accounts.

    So what do you all think? Was it pronouced YEH for ye? Or was it only ever TH thee for the proper pronunciation for ‘ye’? Is there even a way to tell at this point?

  84. Francis -  April 15, 2011 - 5:46 pm

    ‘th’is an example- read ‘The Hobbit’ by J.R.R Tolkien

  85. Jay -  April 9, 2011 - 10:15 am

    I find a lot of posters here who have a lot of knowledge on this subject. Perhaps one of you could help me on something that is off topic. I would like to have a source that tells me the origin of how surnames are pronounced.

    My last name is Kruse which my family pronounces Crew Zee. I find tracing my family tree that we originated in Gremany, at least so far. But all other names I find with the same spelling are prounced either as Cruise or Kroose (similar to goose).

    If any of you have a background that could point me in the right direction for finding information where this unusual pronouncing originates I would appreciate your help.

    I hope no one is offended by my getting off point. If you are, my apologies.


    • Tanya -  November 15, 2014 - 1:03 am

      My surname is klieve, it has Goethe roots dating back to early Christendom. We pronounce it Klee-vee, others in English speaking countries pronounce it Klee-vuh or Klee-ver. The correct pronunciation is Klee-va., I think your name would fall into the same pronunciation key. I hope this helps. Regards, Tanya

  86. Pinki -  April 8, 2011 - 9:58 pm

    What about “thee” and “thou” and those stuff??? Cool article though!!!!

  87. JustMalea -  March 24, 2011 - 4:08 pm

    @Sterling Grey The thorn, þ, was actually used interchangeably with the eth, ð, in Old and Middle English which, obviously, caused pronunciation confusion just as our spelling of “th” does today. They, like the “th,” are used for both voiced (then) and unvoiced (thin) sounds. However, in the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) the eth /ð/ is used to represent a voiced “th” (then) sound whereas the theta /Θ/ is used to represent the unvoiced “th” (thin) sound. (person had it exactly backwards.)

    Also, as far as “ye” goes, it was an Old and Middle English second person plural pronoun. So, “I’ll drive ye through!” is the same as “I’ll kill you all!” (basically). Keep in mind, before the printing press was invented in the mid-fifteenth century (1440 I think?), there was no standard for spelling though there were a few attempts at it so people basically spelled phonetically and since dialects can vary greatly, the same word could be spelled quite differently depending on the dialect of the author.

  88. Sterling Grey -  March 23, 2011 - 2:19 pm

    This will be it for me today, honest!…

    But, again, in case one of you clever, linguistically well-informed folks notices this post… I wanted to run this summary past everybody to see if my understanding of what I’ve seen here checks out… (or not!):

    The (‘T-crossed’ capital D &/or lowercase delta) — “ETH” — is VOICED [or ‘hard’] … as in THis, THat, or THe?

    The (‘Hybrid p/b’) — “THORN” — is UN-VOICED [or ‘soft’] … as in THHree-THHirty, THHeatre, THHrifty, or THHinking?

    AND, if I can believe what I think I understood from the post of ‘person’, the (Greek) — “THETA” — is hard and VOICED… as in THese, THose, or bathe…

    Let me hear from you if you know if these are accurate assessments! Thanks for any light you can shed!


  89. Sterling Grey -  March 23, 2011 - 1:51 pm

    Okay… So, I’ve been pondering this, and I don’t think I’ve seen this particular question, or maybe I missed it…

    But, according to the author and Hot Word:
    “In Old English, a letter called “thorn” represented the “th” sound* (as in “that”) in Modern English.”

    So now, I’m saying, Really?… Wouldn’t “þ” — “thorn” — be pronounced the way one would guess, as the perfect example of the soft “th”… as in the way we pronounce THHORN? Why would it sound like ”th” in ”that”?

    OR… am I assuming (incorrectly) that our way, now, has ALways been the way “Thorn” is pronounced… Is it perhaps possible that, in fact, they used to say “Thorn” with the harder, VOICED “th”??? (I guess anything is possible…)

    If anyone of you bright, linguistically-educated folks notices this post… and if you have any insight on this, can you let me know and alleviate my ‘perplexity’? ;-)


    [þanks?] or maybe [ðanks?]… or maybe even [Θanks?]…

  90. Sterling Grey -  March 23, 2011 - 11:51 am

    @Glitchy … I like your humor! (BUT!… to take it as a serious question ANYway…) ;o) …I think the “ye” in your phrase, “I shall run ye through with my pike!” is more akin to, say, the way a stereotypical Pirate would use it… as a ‘lazy,’ or more accurately ‘casual’ or ‘colorful’ pronunciation of “you.” I see it as similar in a way to when we say “See ya!”, especially in print or text. We all know it’s “you”, but to spell it that way imitates the way we say it and conjures the ‘voice’ we mean to say it in…

    @everyone in general: It seems odd to me that, as the original essay stated:
    “In the Latin alphabet, the “y” was the symbol that most closely resembled the character that represented thorn.”
    …(and I’m not arguing the point with the Hot Word author, because I have not studied this, while he/she has!)
    …but whereas “thorn,” as we’ve seen — þ — looks like a hybrid of our lowercase “p” and “b” [sharing the same circle with stems going both up (b) and down (p) from it on the left]… the symbol for “wynn,” on the other hand (at least as shown in this conversation — Ƿ –) at least LOOKS like a “y” (with a ‘fork’ diverging from the top of the stem), except that the right-hand ‘branch’ of the two strokes that fork off of the stem curls around to the left, to meet the left-hand ‘branch’ just below the very top, closing the figure instead of leaving it open like our “y”! Now THAT is more of a resemblance in my eyes!

    Hey, what do I know, though… Just sayin’!!

    It’s been fun following this string!…

  91. jasmine -  February 18, 2011 - 3:05 am

    nice article..

  92. Lincoln -  February 17, 2011 - 10:09 pm

    True to nigel :)

  93. Nigel from New Zealand -  February 17, 2011 - 8:58 am

    In Britain I haven’t seen ‘Q’ on a number plate. Is that another disappearing letter? :-(

  94. Wealtheow -  February 17, 2011 - 3:42 am

    actually, in regards to “ye olde…” – from what I understand of the historic use of Þ, since the Old English character resembles a ‘y,’ long after the letter had been phased out of the language it would be found on signs during archealogical studies. Due to fading of the letters and lack of knowledge of the people of the time, Þ was assumed to be a ‘y’

  95. RPianist -  February 3, 2011 - 11:28 am

    The number 3, as others have noted, is not the same as ȝ (yogh), in fact their similarities are actually purely circumstantial. The number 3 comes to us from the Hindu-Arabic numeral system which came to Europe in the Middle Ages (all the way from India), long after Old English first came on the scene, or long after Futhorc came on the scene which is the origins of the runic symbols used in Old English.

    Rather, Roman numerals were used prior to the use of Hindu-Arabic numerals. But suffice to say these two similar looking symbols were developed independently halfway around the world from each other, so there is no relation.

  96. $h0rty -  February 3, 2011 - 9:56 am

    WAT? VAT???

  97. vcm -  February 3, 2011 - 6:07 am

    “As for the girl with a B.A in English who thinks we’re all mad, you don’t deserve your degree if you have no passion for your subject,”

    At least where I went to college, linguistics and literature fell under two separate majors. (“English” and “Linguistics”, unsurprisingly.) Being interested in higher applications vs technical applications need not be the same thing. Similarly, one may, say, enjoy building a computer but not enjoy writing software code, and another may enjoy programming but dislike working with the actual hardware. And a chemist may like the composition of an ink whereas an artist would enjoy putting that ink to paper.

    One need not encompass the entirety of a subject in every manner to enjoy it.

  98. Antigone -  February 2, 2011 - 7:46 pm

    It saddens me that so many people are completely uninterested in the origins of their language. Despite that, it is alarming n the nicest possible way to see so many intelligent and thorough comments up there. As for the girl with a B.A in English who thinks we’re all mad, you don’t deserve your degree if you have no passion for your subject, you should respect your language for it is the tool of your ancestors and one of the very important reasons that you are even alive today. I’m gonna leave before the ignorance gets to me too much! xD Take care all :)

  99. Zippi -  December 30, 2010 - 5:53 pm

    Aye, Rune. I noticed the error, too. The example that was given for thorn (þ) was “th,” as in “that,” rather than “thank.” As I understand it, the “th” in “that” is represented by eth (ð). I know about yogh, often mistaken fir “Z,” hence why Menzies sounds more like Ming’es.
    Staphanie, I have not read that; it sounds interesting, though. I have been informed that it is because of the Normans that we have “warrantee,” as well as “guarantee.” there are other word, however, I have forgotten what they are but they are similar in that one version begins with “g,” whislt the other begins with “w.”

  100. Stephanie -  December 7, 2010 - 8:15 pm

    I think this may also connect to the Norman conquest in 1066. I once read that while the Anglo-Saxons had two distinct letters (thorn and Ev) and also two distinct sounds for “th” (as in feather and theatre), the Normans only had one. Because they were the dominant governmental force at the time, the Norman spelling rules were adopted, but that did not stop the pronunciation rules from being passed from generation to generation. This could explain why we still have two ways of pronouncing the “th,” but only one way of spelling it. Has anyone read something along these lines?

  101. Sydni -  November 23, 2010 - 4:26 pm

    This looks a lot like “Dragon Script” from the book “Dragonology”… But some of the letters are different =P

  102. Emi -  October 26, 2010 - 6:39 pm

    Great article! I was beginning to wonder if the hot word blog had any good info left but clearley you do! Love this, great job. =)

  103. Jank -  October 24, 2010 - 1:58 am

    There’s a place in Niedersachsen/Lower Saxony where a dialect said to be close to Old English is still spoken. Those who speak it are descendants of some who migrated there from farther north.

  104. campingdogs -  October 23, 2010 - 6:41 pm

    I have a B.A. in English and I think you people are ALL crazy.

  105. Jocantha Telsey -  October 16, 2010 - 8:38 pm

    geez i’m too confused to figure this all out. make up you’re mind. and better blog today Hot Word, you’re getting better at this.

  106. Mark V -  October 14, 2010 - 7:54 am

    RE: making symbols
    With numlock ON, hold ALT and press 4 numbers on the Numpad, IE Alt+0222 = Þ, alt+0254 þ , alt+0208 = Ð I cant ever remember the actual coding for it, but i know that
    Alt + 6666666
    (6, seven times) makes ¬, which is used in my personal favorite, the unimpressed emoticon ¬_¬

    Start Menu – All Programs – accessories – system tools – Charmap
    gives you piles and piles of symbols that you can copy from, and learn the Alt-code for. Alot of accented lowercase letters are between 0224 and 0253

  107. ms.karma -  October 13, 2010 - 11:22 pm

    @steph: “This isn’t your site, it’s not yours to boss people around on.”
    you are right. thank you for your comments.

    @nikki: love and peace. :)

  108. NKohp -  October 13, 2010 - 1:28 pm

    @Raymond Petry. They still have the same pronounciation for W/U in Welsh. Like the name Huw which is pronounced slightly rounder than Hugh but few people would notice a difference at all. It’s a weird sound because it’s neither a U or W in Welsh, it’s something in between.

    Does anyone know if Wynn and W existed at the same time to represent these two sounds? The sounds of course would have then merged meaning Wynn became obsolete, rather like how Thorn represented the “th” sound, but we still had a T and a H alongside it used mainly in the European way. If anyone gets what I mean.

    Still an interesting concept.

  109. Odin's_boy -  October 13, 2010 - 9:05 am

    @Ruko – Touché
    @Chicken pot pie – Shame on you ;)

    As people seem interested I would like to add one last little snippet of cool knowledge regarding the whole English/Anglo-Saxon migration and the hurdles in modern language left by our forefathers.

    As Keith correctly mentions there were significant differences in pronounciation of dipthongs based on the context of the letter/rune. One of the reasons for this is that Anglo-Saxon contrary to other Germanic languages avoids glottal stop before vowels, this is purely a dialect based artefact influenced by the softer pronouncing Scandinavians then their own countrymen.

    This means that any initial vowel in English is generally aspirated, i.e. there is a gentle ‘h’ before it. That’s why in ‘an apple’ the syllables separate because originally an apple was actually called napple and pronounced ‘a – napple’, this prevents the harsh glottal stop you would get from ‘a napple’. Same applies to Ox formerly called Nox and most anglicised words that now start with a vowel.

    In areas such as Ireland, Scotland and London, where the accent was affected not only by large quantities of Germanic and Slavik migrants, but also the fashion for speaking like the Germanic Monarchary in the 18th Century [citation needed], thus readdressing the original Anglo/Saxon legacy. In these accents you hear the glottal stop more pronounced instead of a ‘t’ sound in ‘butter’ you get ‘bu**er’ and instead of ‘water’ you get’wa*er’. In Scotland and Irelands case this is due to the lack of linguistic influence of the invading forces such as the Vikings and Saxons on Gaelic. The Welsh (for the sake of completeness) managed to maintain language and dialect from the influence of most of Englands invaders for many centuries and is therefore very individiual.

    @Eternalgreenknight – Looked fine to me…so when are we going to start seeking to change the international standard ;)

  110. person -  October 13, 2010 - 8:26 am

    ð is actually a symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) today. It represents the [th] sound, like in bath, thwart, and math. However, the [th] sound in the words bathe, that, and those is represented by the symbol Ɵ.

  111. Steph -  October 13, 2010 - 4:57 am

    Same thing with Alan Turner.
    This isn’t your site, it’s not yours to boss people around on.

  112. Steph -  October 13, 2010 - 4:45 am

    @Nikki – That was a little harsh on ms.karma. The comments section is a place on HotWord where people can post their thoughts to the public. And if that’s what ms.karma was thinking, she had all rights and liberty to post that.
    Not trying to be mean, just saying. I think you’re acting a little superior and maybe the tiniest bit nasty to ms.karma when she didn’t do anything wrong.

  113. Anna -  October 12, 2010 - 7:31 pm

    coooool geiky stuff never would have known that still need to read story about how the name Friday came from a good looking goddess!!!!!!!!

  114. Ruko -  October 12, 2010 - 3:40 pm

    Chicken~Knowledge for knowledge’s sake.

  115. sweetpea -  October 12, 2010 - 3:37 pm

    I thought “ye” could also mean “you”. And how do you make that “þ” sign on the computer? I just copied it from someone else.

  116. Mr. Raymond Kenneth Petry -  October 12, 2010 - 3:17 pm

    (That was not intended as funny-talk but in-fact has good historic evidence: Anwps of Egypt was sent east to Sumer to become the first ‘Watcher in the East’ where he was also known to the later Hebrews, as Enoch, but which is really ChNWK Kh-An-Wk THE-Lord-chief, first son of Cain become first-of Seth because Cain owed Shw Yhw Jehovah a son … Point being, ChNWK, is where we get Schnook … from Lord-Oops…! Ray.)

  117. Mr. Raymond Kenneth Petry -  October 12, 2010 - 3:06 pm

    P.S. It is also interesting to compare the Greek-Y Γ and Y-grec (Fr. term for English ‘Y’) … these are actually two different tonguings that sound almost the same… (And you can hear why they were called, liquid).


  118. Mr. Raymond Kenneth Petry -  October 12, 2010 - 2:57 pm

    But, Is the THORN always, aspirated–? (cf THIS v. THISTLE, THINE v. THIN)

    And that (font) doesn’t look like a thorn but like the written, lowercase, ‘p’,– like a flower bud not a stem thorn….

    And worse– the WYNN looks like a lower-lowercase ‘p’….

    Also– The WYNN WEN is actually the original pronunciation, W-nasal W^(n), cf UNE, meaning, one, which is why English-speakers say ‘WUN’ for ONE….

    (ONE is actually from O-mega-NE, spelled WNE or UNE….)

    And, we used to call, Y, W, L, R, ‘liquid’, because they are strongly like consonants but definitely open like vowels, (and voiced but there are also the unvoiced liquids, Yh, Wh, Lh, Rh, not often current but historic, cf YhWh got changed to YHWH, which hardened to JHWH)…


  119. Wynn Boehmcke -  October 12, 2010 - 2:30 pm

    This is so cool, considering my name is Wynn!

  120. Chicken pot pie -  October 12, 2010 - 2:00 pm

    who cares about the old alphebet, it doesn’t matter because we don’t even use it. Whats the big deal? =P

  121. RUNES ALPHABET | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  October 12, 2010 - 1:32 pm

    [...] So many litters — so little time — Proliferating freely — there be a somewhat need for something extinct — the way that things are moving with information overload — and being over run by critters — forget the rhyme — it’s profiteering really — we’re in the wrong precinct — for “thorn and wynn” to bother us — before our heads explode — with useless information — so we’ll sit here curse and cuss — and maybe fart — that’s our situation. — But is it ART?–>>Rupert L.T.Rhyme [...]

  122. tina -  October 12, 2010 - 1:28 pm

    wow that is soooo kewl i just learned someting new today and thats not what you usally get when your out of college

  123. Glitchy -  October 12, 2010 - 1:06 pm

    So it is improper (old) English to yell “I shall run ye through with my pike!”

  124. ann -  October 12, 2010 - 12:32 pm

    here in the philippines we have ñ and ng as part of our alphabet..

  125. eternalgreenknight -  October 12, 2010 - 12:31 pm

    þe problem wiþ using “þ” is þat spell checker doesn’t like it and my eyes at first want to see it as a “b” or a “p” and not a “th.”

    It certainly would be more efficient if it could catch on again… and we could get used to it, but þat’s not very likely. :-þ

  126. NKohp -  October 12, 2010 - 10:44 am

    @ Erdos: ȝ (yogh) the 3 symbol actually represented gh, not g. It was similar to the phlegmy sound ch in Loch or the gh in Van Gogh.

    ᵹ < It originally looked like this. I'm showing the original symbol because some people will probably google it and find both.

    I never really understood why we dropped thorn. They still use it in Icelandic in a very similar way to how we did, so really it is efficient than the "th" digraph.

  127. keith -  October 12, 2010 - 9:53 am

    The various pronounciations of the YOGH rune is one of the reasons that you have different ways of pronouncing ough in English such as Slough (Slaow), trough (troff), tough (tuff) and so on.
    There was a dialectic difference between the different Saxon and Angle tribes. English today is derived from one dialect (called East Midlands) but others did and still do exist.
    For example the F and V letter can be either interchangeable or quite distinct depending on dialect.
    Likewise the use of dipthongs where vowels run together such as ae or oe are related to dialect. The poem Beowulf was written down in West Saxon and so has more dipthongs including at the start with HWAET (hark!)

  128. Strawhat -  October 12, 2010 - 9:50 am

    @Nathan – Tolkien was a linguist (specializing in Old English and Old Norse), so yes, he borrowed the futhork runes and used them to represent Dwarvish runes where Dwarvish script was needed.

    Sure, he invented the languages themselves, but considering his background and expertise, it’s not totally unexpected for him to rip off some of it for a proto-European fantasy world. ;)

    man all this linguistics talk is making me relive college, I love it.

  129. joseph -  October 12, 2010 - 9:03 am

    @poopy, areyou sure? Or is it the way you’ve heard most uninformed people pronounce it? which would be most everyone.

  130. #5 is alive -  October 12, 2010 - 9:02 am

    yes i do agree with your hypothosis. if we collected enough specimins then mabye it just might work. i will get right on that!

  131. Garrett_is_Smith -  October 12, 2010 - 8:27 am

    To “ALEXANDRA”, if you want to have your kind of fun, go on twitter. This is intellectual fun. In addition, this is not the Word of the Day; it is The Hot Word Blog. Furthermore, “likee” does not mean “like” just as well as “much” is not “muchh”- Duh! (Do you see what I did there? I used it correctly) I am too annoyed to continue. You should have your fingers restricted for public indecency.

  132. Dave -  October 12, 2010 - 8:14 am

    good info

  133. CF -  October 12, 2010 - 8:07 am

    @rissa: It’s all because they’re awesome and magical.

  134. ALEXANDRA -  October 12, 2010 - 8:07 am

    I don’t likee this word very muchh , if youu want to put word of thee day makee it funn duhhh !

  135. HTwoWhoa -  October 12, 2010 - 7:49 am

    I use the thorn in some emoticons: “tongue-stuck-out”.

  136. dex -  October 12, 2010 - 7:40 am

    wow.. these little daily tips from dictionary.com are almost as useful as the website itself. :]

  137. Btjie -  October 12, 2010 - 7:36 am

    Finally the “double u” of w makes sense! What an interesting read. English is probably the most diverse language out there… Could research it endlessly.

  138. Jan -  October 12, 2010 - 7:16 am

    Alorah, you are confusing me. “The” is clearly a voiced th, while “thin” is unvoiced.

  139. louis paiz -  October 12, 2010 - 6:53 am

    well remember that our languges are formed by other ones either extint or alive like for example prefixes and sufixes form our everyday language we also are part or have part in our language some cognate or half and half we also have indoeuropians words. i think is because when societates change they have to accomodate them selves to their language or the languages people speack in their culture .for example i remember the first time i read the word mexico it was with the letter j then x and the other day i was reading a book and faund it with doule ss or messico. thanks keep up the good work

  140. johnesh -  October 12, 2010 - 6:48 am

    Rune on October 11, 2010 at 8:53 pm Thorn was used for the unvoiced th sound (the sound in “thing” or “thorn”) and eth was used for the voiced th sound (the sound in “this” or “that”).
    Rune is absolutely correct. In fact, both of these letters still exist in modern Icelandic, and still perform exactly these functions.

  141. Halli -  October 12, 2010 - 6:37 am

    “Þ” or “þ” is still used in Icelandic and represents the “th” sound in the word “three”, for example. Similar sound but without the power (air), so to speak (I don´t know the phonetical term for it), is the letter “Д or “ð”, which represents the “th” sound in the word “bother”, for example.

  142. Nathan -  October 12, 2010 - 6:30 am

    Interesting. Very interesting. The picture of the blog reminds me of the characters “The Lord of the Rings” uses. Maybe it’s the same thing. But I know I have seen those characters somewhere before.

  143. AMY-LOU -  October 12, 2010 - 6:21 am

    So wait what you’re saying is old christians gave us the language we talk now???

  144. Nick -  October 12, 2010 - 6:02 am

    Old English also used to have the æ/Æ letter for the vowel in “that”, “cat”, “hat” etc.

    Þæt wæs god cyning!

  145. mhood1 -  October 12, 2010 - 5:49 am

    If I’m not mistaken, Eth (soft “th”) and Thorn (hard “th”) are still used in Iceland.

  146. bholland -  October 12, 2010 - 5:41 am

    The English language is fascinating all unto itself.

  147. Cindy -  October 12, 2010 - 5:28 am

    cool words

  148. Blizzard -  October 12, 2010 - 5:15 am

    Just remember…
    Derp will always be a number (:
    This is very interesting, but I would rather stick with the alphabet we have now!!! ;D


  149. Arthur -  October 12, 2010 - 5:14 am

    Þ and ð are common in icelandic language.

    Example -> Það (it), þeir (they), Þór (Thor), maður (man)

  150. James Baker -  October 12, 2010 - 4:36 am

    Lies! Its all lies! THE GAME!

  151. Odin's_boy -  October 12, 2010 - 4:18 am

    Interestingly enough (well to me anyway) the use of Thorn and Wynn were an artefact left over from elder futhark used by the Old Norse and Old Teutonic tribes. Elder futhark being the runic alphabet in use from around 150AD – 800AD and was still being written in various guises (albeit in Northern Europe only) until 1100AD, by which time the more contemporary alphabets had incorporated/been replaced by the Latin alphabet.

    Thorn originated from the Thuriaz rune (proto-germanic term), which as well as ‘th’ sound when used with other letters, also represented the God of lightening and thunder Thor and the number 3 (þrir in Old Norse)when used in isolation.

    Wynn orginated from the Wunjo rune (proto-germanic term), which evolved into the ‘w’ from the ‘uu’ sound. The rune on its own represented joy as well as a letter in matters of rune readins – part of pagan worship at the time.

    There was a third rune termed Ingwaz, which I haven’t been able to find making the transition into Old High German and then into Old English. Ingwaz made an ‘ng’ sound, as in ri’ng’. It represented earth as in soil, which is why I find it strange to not have made the same journey as Wynn and Thorn. Any thoughts?

  152. pissed -  October 12, 2010 - 4:15 am

    @ dictionary.com

    U have put up banners of some game called amazonia. This is an example of intrusive advertising. The banner automatically opens up the game site. Each time i open a word in a new tab, this annoying this starts it play.
    I have dictionary.com as my home page. Do you wish that people get annoyed with you ridiculous advertising techniques and change the home page.

    BTw- I have repeatedly requested the website, to start a separate forum for the ardent logophiles who wish to air their view on stuff, ur word of the day is linked with facebook and twitter, why cant u have a forum to comment on under the word itself. People generally do not like going to ridiculous site that you strategically direct them to

  153. AvidReader -  October 12, 2010 - 3:52 am

    Very excited. I always wanted to know the difference between “ye” and “the”. Never made sense to me. But now it does :D

  154. Nikki -  October 12, 2010 - 2:53 am

    @rissa: Conduct some research; you should find some interesting information like the information. You’ll find facts and information you didn’t know!

    Sounds like there is quite a dispute going up there at the top of the comment list. Well, erdos, it’s not a “3″ as others have noted! @GS, yes. @Rune and @alorah, thanks for the information. Just a few questions: ms.karma, don’t put useless or nonsensical comments up there. Just get to the point. And Alan Turner, your comment doesn’t make sense and doesn’t relate to the topic – Old English letters now not in the alphabet anymore.

    Oh yes, and Hot Word, thanks for the information; for once you have taken up a better topic. Old English symbols not in use are definitely something to blog about. Yet try not to confuse people…did you see the comments “criticising”‘ the blog post for confusion?


  155. Annoy -  October 12, 2010 - 1:53 am

    Reading that made me remember why I hated English class in school! Ahhhhhhh, who cares if U & J came along in the alphabet later on, how is that going to put food on your family’s table, pay bills & put clothes on you & your families backs….?

  156. Zachary Overline -  October 12, 2010 - 1:53 am

    Awww. I knew a gothic chick in high school who always used to write me secret notes coded in ruins. How nostalgic :)

  157. rissa -  October 12, 2010 - 12:57 am

    thats cool. i just wonder how you found all that out

  158. Alan Turner -  October 12, 2010 - 12:20 am

    Read up conjunctions

  159. alorah -  October 11, 2010 - 11:07 pm

    thorn (thôrn) The runic letter þ originally representing either sound of the Modern English th, as in the and thin, used in Old English and Middle English manuscripts.
    ([Old English; related to Old High German dorn, Old Norse thorn])

    wynn (wn) or wen (wn) An Old English rune having the sound (w) and used in Old English and early Middle English writing.

  160. ms.karma -  October 11, 2010 - 9:46 pm

    oh, nice.


  161. Rune -  October 11, 2010 - 8:53 pm

    Of interest,
    here is thorn: þ
    and here is wynn: Ƿ
    You can see why they made their way out of the alphabet.

    There was another letter in the English alphabet which went out of use, eth (ð). Eth also represented the Modern th sound.
    Thorn was used for the unvoiced th sound (the sound in “thing” or “thorn”) and eth was used for the voiced th sound (the sound in “this” or “that”).

    To Dracodis and Erdos. Thorn was represented by the letter Y, not by yogh, g or 3.
    The 3-like symbol used for g was used when the g made a y sound, which it did fairly often in Old English (the word “geardagum”* was pronounced yee-are-day-oom). Modern computer typefaces have wrought havoc with yogh/ezh/long z/three.
    According to Wikipedia, “In medieval Cornish manuscripts, yogh is used to represent the voiced interdental fricative”. In plain English, medieval Cornish manuscripts use Ȝ for ð. That’s probably where the confusion stems from.

    *literally “year-days”, it meant something like “days of old”, “ancient times” or “once upon a time”

  162. Toby_Dupree -  October 11, 2010 - 8:32 pm

    Fascinating. I could read about stuff like that all day.

  163. Ian -  October 11, 2010 - 8:17 pm

    @GS: Yep! :)

  164. Dracodis -  October 11, 2010 - 8:12 pm

    To erdos: Although it looks similar to a three, that’s actually the letter yogh (Ȝ) and is quite different. It also could represent the sounds represented by the modern consonantal “y” and the glutteral sound represented by “ch” in German “ach.”

    To GS: Yep.

  165. poopy -  October 11, 2010 - 8:12 pm

    …but they still pronounce it ye old bookshop or ye old fair…

  166. GS -  October 11, 2010 - 7:38 pm

    So ‘Ye Olde Booke Shoppe’ was pronounced ‘The Old Book Shop’?

  167. erdos -  October 11, 2010 - 7:11 pm

    I just cross-checked it. 3 represented “g” and not “th”.

  168. erdos -  October 11, 2010 - 7:07 pm

    I had read somewhere that “thorn” was represented by the number 3, which contradicts what you say here.


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