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Q (named cue )"Q" Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993); "que," op. cit. is the 17th letter of the and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. In nearly all languages using the it is a , not a .


The Semitic sound value of was (voiceless uvular stop), and the form of the letter could have been based on the eye of a needle, a knot, or even a monkey with its tail hanging down.Travers Wood, Henry Craven Ord Lanchester, A Hebrew Grammar, 1913, p. 7. A. B. Davidson, Hebrew Primer and Grammar, 2000, p. 4. The meaning is doubtful. "Eye of a needle" has been suggested, and also "knot" Harvard Studies in Classical Philology vol. 45.Isaac Taylor, History of the Alphabet: Semitic Alphabets, Part 1, 2003: "The old explanation, which has again been revived by Halévy, is that it denotes an 'ape,' the character Q being taken to represent an ape with its tail hanging down. It may also be referred to a Talmudic root which would signify an 'aperture' of some kind, as the 'eye of a needle,' ... Lenormant adopts the more usual explanation that the word means a 'knot'. is a sound common to Semitic languages, but not found in many European languages. Some have even suggested that the form of the letter Q is even more ancient: it could have originated from Egyptian hieroglyphics.

In , qoppa (Ϙ) probably came to represent several labialized velar , among them and . As a result of later sound shifts, these sounds in Greek changed to and respectively. Therefore, qoppa was transformed into two letters: qoppa, which the number 90, and phi (Φ), which stood for the aspirated sound that came to be pronounced in Modern Greek.

(1994). 9789027276711, John Benjamins Publishing. .

The used Q in conjunction with V to represent , and this usage was copied by the Romans with the rest of their alphabet. In the earliest inscriptions, the letters C, K and Q were all used to represent the two sounds and , which were not differentiated in writing. Of these, Q was used before a rounded vowel (e.g. 'ego'), K before /a/, and C elsewhere.

(2010). 9780748627141, Edinburgh University Press. .
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.


Uppercase "Q"
Depending on the used to the letter Q, the letter's may either its bowl as in ,
(2011). 9782940411764, A & C Black. .
meet the bowl as in , or lie completely outside the bowl as in . In writing , bisecting tails are fastest to write, as they require less precision. All three styles are considered equally valid, with most serif typefaces having a Q with a tail that meets the circle, while sans-serif typefaces are more equally split between those with bisecting tails and those without.
(2009). 9781568987651, Princeton Architectural Press. .
Typefaces with a disconnected Q tail, while uncommon, have existed since at least 1529.
(2008). 9789004169821, . .
A common method among typographers to create the shape of the Q is by simply adding a tail to the letter O.
(2015). 9781305464810, Cengage Learning. .
(2014). 9783038212607, Walter de Gruyter. .

Old-style serif fonts, such as , contained two capital Qs: one with a short tail to be used in short words, and another with a long tail to be used in long words. Some early included up to 3 different Qs: a short-tailed Q, a long-tailed Q, and a long-tailed Q-u ligature.

(2019). 9781584560562, Harvard University Press. .
This print tradition was alive and well until the 19th century, when long-tailed Qs fell out of favor: even recreations of classic typefaces such as began being distributed with only short Q tails.
(2006). 9780857730176, I.B.Tauris. .
Not a fan of long-tailed Qs, American typographer D. B. Updike celebrated their demise in his 1922 book Printing Types, claiming that Renaissance printers made their Q tails longer and longer simply to "outdo each other". words, which are much more likely than English words to contain "Q" as their first letter, have also been cited as the reason for their existence. The long-tailed Q had fallen completely out of use with the advent of early digital typography, as many early digital fonts could not choose different glyphs based on the word that the glyph was in, but it has seen something of a comeback with the advent of fonts and , both of which can automatically typeset the long-tailed Q when it is called for and the short-tailed Q when not.

Owing to the allowable variation in the Q, the letter is a very distinctive feature of a typeface;

(2012). 9781440313714, F+W Media, Inc.. .
like the , the Q is cited as a letter that gives typographers a chance to express themselves.

, an automated typeface identification service that identifies typefaces by questions about their appearance, asks about the Q tail second if the "sans-serif" option is chosen. Out of Identifont's database, Q tails are divided thus: To get the numbers in the table, click Question 1 (serif or sans-serif?) or Question 2 (Q shape) and change the value. They appear under X possible fonts.

Meets bowl33634521
Outside bowl271397
\mathcal{Q}) shape/" itemprop="url" title="Wiki: Cursive">Cursive304428
Inside bowl129220

Some typographers prefer one "Q" design over another: , famous for the airport typeface that bears his name, remarked that most of his typefaces feature a Q tail that meets the bowl and then extends horizontally. Frutiger considered such Qs to make for more "harmonious" and "gentle" typefaces. Some typographers, such as Sophie Elinor Brown, have listed "Q" as being among their favorite letters.

Lowercase "q"
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), even a reversed lowercase p. The "q"'s descender is usually typed without a swash due to the major style difference typically seen between the descenders of the "g" (a loop) and "q" (vertical). When handwritten, or as part of a handwriting font, the descender of the "q" sometimes finishes with a rightward swash to distinguish it from the letter "g" (or, particularly in mathematics, the digit "9").

Use in writing systems

Phonetic and phonemic transcription
The International Phonetic Alphabet uses for the voiceless uvular stop.

English standard orthography
In , the digraph most often denotes the cluster ; however, in borrowings from French, it represents , as in 'plaque'. See the list of English words containing Q not followed by U. is the in the English language, with a frequency of just 0.1% in words. Only is used less often. is the 24th letter in relative frequency as the first letter of an English word.

Other orthographies
In most European languages written in the Latin script, such as in and Germanic languages, appears almost exclusively in the digraph . In , , and Portuguese, represents or ; in , it represents . replaces for before front vowels and , since in those languages represents a fricative or affricate before front vowels. In represents (where is the allophone of ).

It is not considered to be part of the Bosnian, (Standard Written Form), Estonian, Icelandic, , , Lithuanian, , Serbo-Croatian, Scottish Gaelic, , , or alphabets.

has a wide variety of other pronunciations in some European languages and in non-European languages that have adopted the Latin alphabet.

+ Phonetic values of Q ! IPA !! style="min-width:300px"Name !! Occurrence
IPA, Romanization of Arabic, , Berber (also pronounced as or ), , Crimean Tatar, Greenlandic, , , Kurdish (Latin Kurmanji, Yekgirtú), Kazakh Latin, Luiseño language, , Quechua, , , of the and in the interlinguistic Standard Alphabet by Lepsius; phonemic /q/ sometimes as : , Ket Latin (normally with affrication qχ)
Ket Latin (allophone of q)
(allophone of ), Ket Latin (allophone of after )
several European languages, often only in digraph , which often is pronounced (In some case the whole digraph is pronounced ); Arabic loanwords in .
Azerbaijani alphabet
, Menominee, Võro
transliteration of Classical Mongolian, Mi'kmaq
for the
, and
ISO 9 transliteration of the Cyrillic for the
In southern Vietnamese dialects, the digraph qu is pronounced as w

Other uses
The capital letter Q is used as the currency sign for the Guatemalan quetzal.

The Q is sometimes used to represent the number 500,000.

(1983). 9780520038981, University of California Press. .

Related characters

Descendants and related characters in the Latin alphabet
  • Q with : ʠ Ɋ ɋ
  • Small capital q: ꞯ (Used in Japanese linguistics)
  • Gha: Ƣ ƣ

Ancestors and siblings in other alphabets
  • 𐤒 : Semitic letter , from which the following symbols originally derive
    • Ϙ ϙ: letter Koppa
      • 𐌒 : Old Italic Q, which is the ancestor of modern Latin Q
      • Ԛ ԛ : letter Qa

Derived signs, symbols and abbreviations
  • ℺ : rotated capital Q, a
  • Ꝗ ꝗ, Ꝙ ꝙ : Various forms of Q were used for medieval scribal abbreviations

Computing codes

Other representations

See also
  • List of English words containing Q not followed by U
  • Mind your Ps and Qs


External links
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