Z (named zed or zee "Z", Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993); "zee", op. cit.) is the 26th and final letter of the English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet.
Another English dialectal form is izzard . This dates from the mid-18th century and probably derives from Occitan language izèda or the French language ézed, whose reconstructed Latin form would be *idzēta, perhaps a Vulgar Latin form with a prosthetic vowel. Its variants are still used in Hong Kong English although they are usually seen as mispronunciations.
Other languages spell the letter's name in a similar way: zeta in Italian language, Basque language, Spanish language, and Icelandic (no longer part of its alphabet but found in personal names), zê in Portuguese, zäta in Swedish language, zæt in Danish language, zet in Dutch language, Indonesian, Polish language, Romanian, and Czech language, Zett in German language (capitalised as a noun), zett in Norwegian, zède in French language, and zét in Vietnamese. Several languages render it as or , e.g. zeta or in Finnish language. In Standard Chinese pinyin, the name of the letter Z is pronounced , as in "zi", although the English zed and zee have become very common. In Esperanto, the name of the letter Z is pronounced .
In earlier Greek of Athens and Northwest Greece, the letter seems to have represented ; in Attic, from the 4th century BC onwards, it seems to have stood for and – there is no consensus concerning this issue. In other dialects, such as Elean and Crete, the symbol seems to have been used for sounds resembling the English voiced and voiceless th (IPA and , respectively). In the common dialect (koine Greek) that succeeded the older dialects, ζ became , as it remains in modern Greek.
Before the reintroduction of z, the sound of zeta was written s at the beginning of words and ss in the middle of words, as in sōna for ζώνη "belt" and trapessita for τραπεζίτης "banker".
In some inscriptions, z represented a Vulgar Latin sound, likely an affricate, formed by the merging of the reflexes of Classical Latin , and : for example, zanuariu for ianuariu "January", ziaconus for diaconus "deacon", and oze for hodie "today".Ti Alkire & Carol Rosen, Romance Languages: A Historical Introduction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 61. Likewise, sometimes replaced in words like baptidiare for baptizare "to baptize". In modern Italian, z represents or , whereas the reflexes of ianuarius and hodie are written with the letter g (representing when before i and e): gennaio, oggi. In other languages, such as Spanish language, further evolution of the sound occurred.
Some Latin based alphabets have extra letters on the end of the alphabet. The last letter for the Icelandic, Finnish and Swedish alphabet alphabets is Ö, while it is Å for Danish and Norwegian. In the German alphabet, the umlauts ( Ä/ä, Ö/ö, and Ü/ü) and the letter ß ( Eszett or scharfes S) are regarded respectively as modifications of the vowels a/o/u and as a (standardized) variant spelling of ss, not as independent letters, so they come after the unmodified letters in the alphabetical order. The German alphabet ends with z.
Unicode assigns codepoints and in the Letterlike Symbols and Mathematical alphanumeric symbols ranges respectively.
There is also a variant with a stroke.
It represents in words like . More often, this sound appears as or in words such as measure, decision, etc. In all these words, developed from earlier by Yod-coalescence.
Few words in the Basic English vocabulary begin with , though it occurs in words beginning with other letters. It is the letter frequency in written English language. It is more common in American English than in British English, due to the endings -ize vs -ise and -ization vs -isation, where the American spelling is derived from Greek language and the British from French language. is more common in the Oxford spelling, as this variant prefers the more etymologically 'correct' -ize endings to -ise endings; however, -yse is preferred over -yze in Oxford spelling, as it is closer to the original Greek roots of words like analyse. 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 and chosen).
is used in writing to represent the act of [[sleep]]ing (sometimes using multiple z's like ''zzzz''). It is used because closed-mouth human [[snoring]] often sounds like the pronunciation of this letter.
stands for a voiced alveolar or voiced dental sibilant , in Albanian, [[Breton|Breton language]], [[Czech|Czech language]], [[Dutch|Dutch language]], [[French|French language]], Hungarian, [[Latvian|Latvian language]], Lithuanian, Romanian, Serbo-Croatian, [[Slovak|Slovak language]], and the International Phonetic Alphabet. It stands for in Chinese [[pinyin]], [[Finnish|Finnish language]] (occurs in loanwords only), and [[German|German language]], and it likewise expressed in [[Old Norse]]. In [[Italian|Italian language]], it represents two phonemes, and . Castilian [[Spanish|Spanish language]] uses the letter to represent (as English in ''thing''), though in other dialects ([[Latin America]]n, [[Andalusia]]n) this sound has merged with . In Portuguese, it stands for in most cases, but also for or (depending on the regional variant) at the end of syllables. In Basque, it represents the sound .
The letter on its own represents in Polish language. It is also used in four of the seven officially recognized digraphs: (), ( or ), ( or , sometimes it represents a sequence ) and (), and is the most frequently used of the consonants in that language. (Other Slavic languages avoid digraphs and mark the corresponding phonemes with the caron]] (caron) accent: , , , ; this system has its origin in Czech orthography of the Hussite period.) Two more Polish digraphs include with diacritical marks, as accent and dot: ( or ) and ( or ). can also appear alone with diacritical marks, namely or . Similarly, Hungarian uses in the digraphs (expressing , as opposed to the value of , which is ), and (expressing ).
Among non-European languages that have adopted the Latin alphabet, usually stands for , such as in Azerbaijani, Igbo language, Indonesian, Shona language, Swahili language, Tatar language, Turkish language, and Zulu language. represents in Northern Sami and Inari Sami. In Turkmen language, represents .
On German typewriter- and computer keyboards (in comparison to those used in the UK/US), the positions of the letters Z and Y are swapped. (In German, Y is only used in loanwords and names.)