F (named ef
[Spelled eff as a verb] ) ["F", Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); "ef", "eff", "bee" (under "bee eff"), op. cit.] is the sixth letter in the English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet.
The origin of 'F' is the Semitic letter vâv
) that represented a sound like or . Graphically it originally probably depicted either a hook or a club. It may have been based on a comparable Egyptian hieroglyph such as (transliterated as ḥ(dj)): T3
The Phoenician form of the letter was adopted into Greek as a vowel, upsilon (which resembled its descendant 'Y' but was also the ancestor of the Roman letters 'U', 'V', and 'W'); and, with another form, as a consonant, digamma, which indicated the pronunciation , as in Phoenician. Latin 'F,' despite being pronounced differently, is ultimately descended from digamma and closely resembles it in form.
After sound changes eliminated from spoken Greek, digamma was used only as a numeral. However, the Greek alphabet also gave rise to other alphabets, and some of these retained letters descended from digamma. In the Etruscan alphabet, 'F' probably represented , as in Greek, and the Etruscans formed the digraph 'FH' to represent . (At the time these letters were borrowed, there was no Greek letter that represented /f/: the Greek letter phi 'Φ' then represented an aspirated voiceless bilabial plosive , although in Modern Greek it has come to represent .) When the Romans adopted the alphabet, they used 'V' (from Greek upsilon) not only for the vowel , but also for the corresponding semivowel , leaving 'F' available for . And so out of the various vav variants in the Mediterranean world, the letter F entered the Roman alphabet attached to a sound which its antecedents in Greek and Etruscan did not have. The Roman alphabet forms the basis of the alphabet used today for English and many other languages.
The lowercase 'f' is not related to the visually similar long s, 'ſ' (or medial s). The use of the long s largely died out by the beginning of the 19th century, mostly to prevent confusion with 'f' when using a short mid-bar (see more at: S).
Use in writing systems
In the English writing system is used to represent the sound , the voiceless labiodental fricative. It is often doubled at the end of words. Exceptionally, it represents the voiced labiodental fricative in the common word "of".
In the writing systems of other languages, commonly represents , or .
In French orthography, is used to represent . It may also be silent at the end of words.
In Spanish orthography, is used to represent .
In the Hepburn romanization of Japanese, is used to represent . This sound is usually considered to be an allophone of , which is pronounced in different ways depending upon its context; Japanese is pronounced as before .
In Welsh orthography, represents while represents .
In , is used primarily in words of foreign (Greek, Latin, or Germanic) origin.
In spoken Icelandic, in the middle of a word is often pronounced as a v (e.g. Að sofa - to sleep).
The International Phonetic Alphabet uses to represent the voiceless labiodental fricative.
Ancestors, descendants and siblings
F with : Ƒ ƒ Ḟ ḟ Ꞙ ꞙ ᵮ ᶂ
Ꞙ ꞙ : F with stroke is used in the Teuthonista phonetic transcription system
ꬵ : Lenis F is used in the Teuthonista phonetic transcription system
ᶠ : Modifier letter small f is used for phonetic transcription
ꜰ : Small capital F was used in the Icelandic First Grammatical Treatise to mark gemination
Ꝼ ꝼ : Insular script F is used in Norse and Old English contexts
ꟻ : Reversed F was used in ancient Roman texts to stand for filia (daughter) or femina (woman)
Ⅎ ⅎ : Claudian letters
𐤅: Semitic letter Waw, from which the following symbols originally derive
Ϝ ϝ : Greek alphabet letter Digamma, from which F derives
𐌅 : Old Italic V/F (originally used for V, in languages such as Etruscan and Oscan), which derives from Greek Digamma, and is the ancestor of modern Latin F
Y y : Latin letter Y, sharing its roots with F
V v : Latin letter V, also sharing its roots with F
U u : Latin letter U, which is descended from V
W w : Latin letter W, also descended from V
Ligatures and abbreviations