Last updated
N n
(See below)
N cursiva.gif
Writing system Latin script
Type Alphabetic and Logographic
Language of origin Latin language
Phonetic usage[ n ]
[ ŋ ]
[ ɲ ]
[ ɳ ]
[ ]
[ ◌̃ ]
Unicode valueU+004E, U+006E
Alphabetical position14
Time period~-700 to present
Sisters Н

Ն ն
Մ մ

Variations(See below)
Other letters commonly used with n(x), nh, ng, ny

N (named en /ɛn/ [1] ) is the fourteenth letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet.

Letter (alphabet) MDfgrapheme in an alphabetic system of writing

A letter is a segmental symbol of a phonemic writing system. The inventory of all letters forms the alphabet. Letters broadly correspond to phonemes in the spoken form of the language, although there is rarely a consistent, exact correspondence between letters and phonemes.

English alphabet Latin alphabet consisting of 26 letters, each having an uppercase and a lowercase form

The modern English alphabet is a Latin alphabet consisting of 26 letters, each having an upper- and lower-case form. It originated around the 7th century from the Latin script. Since then, letters have been added or removed to give the current Modern English alphabet of 26 letters :

The ISO basic Latin alphabet is a Latin-script alphabet and consists of two sets of 26 letters, codified in various national and international standards and used widely in international communication. They are the same letters that comprise the English alphabet.



Egyptian hieroglyph
PhoenicianN-01.svg EtruscanN-01.svg Nu uc lc.svg

One of the most common hieroglyphs, snake, was used in Egyptian writing to stand for a sound like the English J , because the Egyptian word for "snake" was djet. It is speculated by many[ who? ] that Semitic people working in Egypt adapted hieroglyphics to create the first alphabet, and that they used the same snake symbol to represent N, because their word for "snake" may have begun with that sound. However, the name for the letter in the Phoenician, Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic alphabets is nun , which means "fish" in some of these languages. The sound value of the letter was /n/—as in Greek, Etruscan, Latin and modern languages.

Egyptian hieroglyphs Formal writing system used by the ancient Egyptians

Egyptian hieroglyphs were the formal writing system used in Ancient Egypt. Hieroglyphs combined logographic, syllabic and alphabetic elements, with a total of some 1,000 distinct characters. Cursive hieroglyphs were used for religious literature on papyrus and wood. The later hieratic and demotic Egyptian scripts were derived from hieroglyphic writing, as was the Proto-Sinaitic script that later evolved into the Phoenician alphabet. Through the Phoenician alphabet's major child systems, the Greek and Aramaic scripts, the Egyptian hieroglyphic script is ancestral to the majority of scripts in modern use, most prominently the Latin and Cyrillic scripts and the Arabic script and Brahmic family of scripts.

Snake wiggling animal without legs

Snakes are elongated, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes. Like all other squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales. Many species of snakes have skulls with several more joints than their lizard ancestors, enabling them to swallow prey much larger than their heads with their highly mobile jaws. To accommodate their narrow bodies, snakes' paired organs appear one in front of the other instead of side by side, and most have only one functional lung. Some species retain a pelvic girdle with a pair of vestigial claws on either side of the cloaca. Lizards have evolved elongate bodies without limbs or with greatly reduced limbs about twenty-five times independently via convergent evolution, leading to many lineages of legless lizards. Legless lizards resemble snakes, but several common groups of legless lizards have eyelids and external ears, which snakes lack, although this rule is not universal.

Egyptian language Language spoken in ancient Egypt, branch of the Afro-Asiatic languages

The Egyptian language was spoken in ancient Egypt and was a branch of the Afro-Asiatic languages. Its attestation stretches over an extraordinarily long time, from the Old Egyptian stage. Its earliest known complete written sentence has been dated to about 2690 BC, which makes it one of the oldest recorded languages known, along with Sumerian.

Use in writing systems

n represents a dental or alveolar nasal in virtually all languages that use the Latin alphabet, and in the International Phonetic Alphabet. A common digraph with n is ng, which represents a velar nasal in a variety of languages, usually positioned word-finally in English. [2] [3] Often, before a velar plosive (as in ink or jungle), n alone represents a velar nasal. In Italian and French, gn represents a palatal nasal /ɲ/. The Portuguese and Vietnamese spelling for this sound is nh, while Spanish, Breton, and a few other languages use the letter ñ . In English, n is generally silent when it is preceded by an m at the end of words, as in hymn; however, it is pronounced in this combination when occurring word medially, as in hymnal.

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabetic system of phonetic notation based primarily on the Latin alphabet. It was devised by the International Phonetic Association in the late 19th century as a standardized representation of the sounds of spoken language. The IPA is used by lexicographers, foreign language students and teachers, linguists, speech-language pathologists, singers, actors, constructed language creators and translators.

Digraph (orthography) pair of characters used to write one phoneme

A digraph or digram is a pair of characters used in the orthography of a language to write either a single phoneme, or a sequence of phonemes that does not correspond to the normal values of the two characters combined.

Velar nasal consonantal sound

The velar nasal, also known as agma, from the Greek word for 'fragment', is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. It is the sound of ng in English sing. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ŋ⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is N. The IPA symbol ⟨ŋ⟩ is similar to ⟨ɳ⟩, the symbol for the retroflex nasal, which has a rightward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of the right stem, and to ⟨ɲ⟩, the symbol for the palatal nasal, which has a leftward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of the left stem. Both the IPA symbol and the sound are commonly called 'eng' or 'engma'.

n is the sixth most common letter and the second-most commonly used consonant in the English language (after t). [4]

Letter frequency

The frequency of letters in text has been studied for use in cryptanalysis, and frequency analysis in particular, dating back to the Iraqi mathematician Al-Kindi, who formally developed the method.

Consonant sound in spoken language, articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract

In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are, pronounced with the lips;, pronounced with the front of the tongue;, pronounced with the back of the tongue;, pronounced in the throat; and, pronounced by forcing air through a narrow channel (fricatives); and and, which have air flowing through the nose (nasals). Contrasting with consonants are vowels.

English language West Germanic language

English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and eventually became a global lingua franca. It is named after the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that migrated to the area of Great Britain that later took their name, as England. Both names derive from Anglia, a peninsula in the Baltic Sea. The language is closely related to Frisian and Low Saxon, and its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by other Germanic languages, particularly Norse, and to a greater extent by Latin and French.

Other uses

In mathematics, the italic form n is a particularly common symbol for a variable quantity which represents an integer.

Mathematics Field of study concerning quantity, patterns and change

Mathematics includes the study of such topics as quantity, structure, space, and change. It has no generally accepted definition.

In elementary mathematics, a variable is a symbol, commonly a single letter, that represents a number, called the value of the variable, which is either arbitrary, not fully specified, or unknown. Making algebraic computations with variables as if they were explicit numbers allows one to solve a range of problems in a single computation. A typical example is the quadratic formula, which allows one to solve every quadratic equation by simply substituting the numeric values of the coefficients of the given equation for the variables that represent them.

Integer Number in {..., –2, –1, 0, 1, 2, ...}

An integer is a number that can be written without a fractional component. For example, 21, 4, 0, and −2048 are integers, while 9.75, 5 1/2, and 2 are not.

A diacritic – also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent – is a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. The term derives from the Ancient Greek διακριτικός, from διακρίνω. Diacritic is primarily an adjective, though sometimes used as a noun, whereas diacritical is only ever an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute ( ´ ) and grave ( ` ), are often called accents. Diacritical marks may appear above or below a letter, or in some other position such as within the letter or between two letters.

Ń is a letter formed by putting an acute accent over the letter N. In the Belarusian Łacinka alphabet; the alphabets of Polish, Kashubian, Wymysorys and the Sorbian languages; and the romanization of Khmer, it represents, which is the same as Czech and Slovak ň, Serbo-Croatian and Albanian nj, Spanish and Galician ñ, Italian and French gn, Hungarian and Catalan ny, and Portuguese nh. In Yoruba, it is used to connect a pronoun to a verb. For example, when using the pronoun I and the verb to eat, it would be, mo ń jeun. It is pronounced with a distinct un sound.

Ñ letter of the modern Latin alphabet, formed by an N with a diacritical tilde

Ñ is a letter of the modern Latin alphabet, formed by placing a tilde on top of an upper- or lowercase N. It became part of the Spanish alphabet in the eighteenth century when it was first formally defined, but it is also used in other languages such as Galician, Asturian, the Aragonese Grafía de Uesca, Basque, Chavacano, some Philippine languages, Chamorro, Guarani, Quechua, Mapudungun, Mandinka, and Tetum alphabets, as well as in Latin transliteration of Tocharian and Sanskrit, where it represents. It represents in Crimean Tatar and Classical Malay. In Breton and in Rohingya, it denotes nasalization of the preceding vowel.

Ancestors and siblings in other alphabets

Derived signs, symbols and abbreviations

Computing codes

Unicode 78U+004E110U+006E
UTF-8 784E1106E
Numeric character reference NNnn
EBCDIC family213D514995
ASCII 1784E1106E
1Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.

Other representations

NATO phonetic Morse code
November –·
ICS November.svg Semaphore November.svg Sign language N.svg Braille N.svg
Signal flag Flag semaphore American manual alphabet (ASL fingerspelling) Braille

Related Research Articles

A First letter of the Latin alphabet

A is the first letter and the first vowel of the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. It is similar to the Ancient Greek letter alpha, from which it derives. The uppercase version consists of the two slanting sides of a triangle, crossed in the middle by a horizontal bar. The lowercase version can be written in two forms: the double-storey a and single-storey ɑ. The latter is commonly used in handwriting and fonts based on it, especially fonts intended to be read by children, and is also found in italic type.

F letter in the Latin alphabet

F is the sixth letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet.

G letter in the Latin alphabet

G is the 7th letter in the ISO basic Latin alphabet.

K letter of the Latin Alphabet

K is the eleventh letter of the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. In English, the letter K usually represents the voiceless velar plosive.

O letter of the Latin Alphabet

O is the 15th letter and the fourth vowel in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet.

P letter of the Latin Alphabet

P is the 16th letter of the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet.

R letter in the Latin alphabet

R is the 18th letter of the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet.

T letter of the Latin alphabet

T is the 20th letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. It is derived from the Semitic letter taw via the Greek letter tau. In English, it is most commonly used to represent the voiceless alveolar plosive, a sound it also denotes in the International Phonetic Alphabet. It is the most commonly used consonant and the second most common letter in English-language texts.

U Letter in the Latin alphabet

U is the 21st letter and the fifth vowel in the ISO basic Latin alphabet. It is preceded by T, and is followed by V.

Eng (letter) letter

Eng or engma is a letter of the Latin alphabet, used to represent a velar nasal in the written form of some languages and in the International Phonetic Alphabet.

Esh is a character used in conjunction with the Latin script. Its lowercase form ʃ is similar to a long s ſ or an integral sign ∫; in 1928 the Africa Alphabet borrowed the Greek letter Sigma for the uppercase form Ʃ, but more recently the African reference alphabet discontinued it, using the lowercase esh only. The lowercase form was introduced by Isaac Pitman in his 1847 Phonotypic Alphabet to represent the voiceless postalveolar fricative. It is today used in the International Phonetic Alphabet, as well as in the alphabets of some African languages.

The Uralic Phonetic Alphabet (UPA) or Finno-Ugric transcription system is a phonetic transcription or notational system used predominantly for the transcription and reconstruction of Uralic languages. It was first published in 1901 by Eemil Nestor Setälä, a Finnish linguist.

Latin alpha letter of the Latin script

Latin alpha or script a is a letter of the Latin alphabet based on one lowercase form of a, or on the Greek lowercase alpha (α).

Heng is a letter of the Latin alphabet, derived from h combined with something similar to eng.

J letter in the Latin alphabet

J is the tenth letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its normal name in English is jay or, now uncommonly, jy. When used for the palatal approximant, it may be called yod or yot.


  1. "N" Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993); "en," op. cit.
  2. 1 2 Cook, Richard; Everson, Michael (2001-09-20). "L2/01-347: Proposal to add six phonetic characters to the UCS" (PDF).
  3. 1 2 Everson, Michael; Dicklberger, Alois; Pentzlin, Karl; Wandl-Vogt, Eveline (2011-06-02). "L2/11-202: Revised proposal to encode "Teuthonista" phonetic characters in the UCS" (PDF).
  4. English Letter Frequency
  5. Constable, Peter (2003-09-30). "L2/03-174R2: Proposal to Encode Phonetic Symbols with Middle Tilde in the UCS" (PDF).
  6. 1 2 3 Constable, Peter (2004-04-19). "L2/04-132 Proposal to add additional phonetic characters to the UCS" (PDF).
  7. Constable, Peter (2004-04-19). "L2/04-132 Proposal to add additional phonetic characters to the UCS" (PDF).
  8. Everson, Michael; et al. (2002-03-20). "L2/02-141: Uralic Phonetic Alphabet characters for the UCS" (PDF).
  9. Ruppel, Klaas; Aalto, Tero; Everson, Michael (2009-01-27). "L2/09-028: Proposal to encode additional characters for the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet" (PDF).