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Lowercase i and j in Liberation Serif, with tittles in red. Tittles.svg
Lowercase i and j in Liberation Serif, with tittles in red.

A tittle or superscript dot [1] is a small distinguishing mark, such as a diacritic in the form of a dot on a letter (for example, lowercase i or j). The tittle is an integral part of the glyph of i and j, but diacritic dots can appear over other letters in various languages. In most languages, the tittle of i or j is omitted when a diacritic is placed in the tittle's usual position (as í or ĵ), but not when the diacritic appears elsewhere (as į, ɉ).



The word tittle is rarely used. [2] One notable occurrence is in the King James Bible at Matthew 5:18: "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (KJV). The quotation uses "jot and tittle" as examples of extremely small graphic details in "the Law", presumably referring to the Hebrew text of the Torah. In English the phrase "jot and tittle" indicates that every small detail has received attention.

The Greek terms translated in English as "jot" and "tittle" in Matthew 5:18 are iota and keraia (Greek : κεραία). [3] Iota is the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet (ι); [4] the even smaller iota subscript was a medieval innovation. Alternatively, iota may represent yodh (י), the smallest letter of the Hebrew and Aramaic alphabets (to which iota is related). [5] "Keraia" is a hook or serif, and in Matthew 5:18 may refer to Greek diacritics, or, if the reference is to the Hebrew text of the Torah, possibly refers to the pen strokes that distinguish between similar Hebrew letters, e.g., ב (Bet) versus כ (Kaph), [6] or to ornamental pen strokes attached to certain Hebrew letters, [7] or to the Hebrew letter Vav, since in Hebrew vav also means "hook". [8] "Keraia" in Matt. 5:18 cannot refer to vowel marks known as Niqqud, which developed later than the date of Matthew's composition. Others have suggested that "Keraia" refers to markings in cursive scripts of languages derived from Aramaic, such as Syriac, written in Serṭā (ܣܶܪܛܳܐ, 'short line'). [9] In printing modern Greek numerals a keraia is used.

Tittles also exist in Cyrillic.[ citation needed ]

Dotless and dotted i

Example of the dotless i on an Irish roadsign Gaeltacht Donegal cropped.jpg
Example of the dotless i on an Irish roadsign
Bi without a tittle and bi with a tittle in the Middle Vietnamese dictionary Dictionarium Annamiticum Alexandre de Rhodes - Dictionarium Annamiticum (1651) - c.34 - cropped on bi and bi.png
without a tittle and bỉ with a tittle in the Middle Vietnamese dictionary Dictionarium Annamiticum
Mi with a tittle on Vietnamese signage Banh mi with tittle.jpg
with a tittle on Vietnamese signage
I with acute and hard dot in Lithuanian and Vietnamese I acute - soft dotted and Lithuanian dot.svg
I with acute and hard dot in Lithuanian and Vietnamese

A number of alphabets use dotted and dotless I, both upper and lower case.

In the modern Turkish alphabet, the absence or presence of a tittle distinguishes two different letters representing two different phonemes: the letter "I" / "ı", with the absence of a tittle also on the lower case letter, represents the close back unrounded vowel [ɯ], while "İ" / "i", with the inclusion of a tittle even on the capital letter, represents the close front unrounded vowel [i]. This practice has carried over to several other Turkic languages, like the Azerbaijani alphabet, Crimean Tatar alphabet, and Tatar alphabet.

In some of the Dene languages of the Northwest Territories in Canada, specifically North Slavey, South Slavey, Tłı̨chǫ and Dëne Sųłıné, all instances of i are undotted to avoid confusion with tone-marked vowels í or ì. The other Dene language of the Northwest Territories, Gwich’in, always includes the tittle on lowercase i.

There is only one letter I in Irish, but i is undotted in the traditional uncial Gaelic script to avoid confusion of the tittle with the buailte overdot found over consonants. Modern texts replace the buailte with the letter h, and use the same antiqua-descendant fonts, which have a tittle, as other Latin-alphabet languages. However, bilingual road signs use dotless i in lowercase Irish text to better distinguish i from í . The letter "j" is not used in Irish other than in foreign words.

In most Latin-based orthographies, the lowercase letter i conventionally has its dot replaced when a diacritical mark atop the letter, such as an acute or grave accent, is placed. The tittle is sometimes retained in some languages. In some Baltic languages sources, the lowercase letter i sometimes retains a tittle even when accented. [10] In Vietnamese in the 17th century, [11] the tittle is preserved atop and but not ì and í, as seen in the seminal quốc ngữ reference Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum . In modern Vietnamese, a tittle can be seen in ì, , ĩ, and í in cursive handwriting and some signage. This detail rarely occurs in computers and on the Internet, due to the obscurity of language-specific fonts. In any case, the tittle is always retained in .

A particular and unique variant is in the Johnston typeface, long employed by and proprietary to the Transport for London organisation and its associates, in print and notices, where above a certain point size the dot (and full stop) are diamond shaped, this being among the most distinguishing features of the font.


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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Diacritic</span> Modifier mark added to a letter

A diacritic is a glyph added to a letter or to a basic glyph. The term derives from the Ancient Greek διακριτικός, from διακρίνω. The word diacritic is a noun, though it is sometimes used in an attributive sense, whereas diacritical is only an adjective. Some diacritics, such as the acute ⟨á⟩, grave ⟨à⟩, and circumflex ⟨â⟩, are often called accents. Diacritics may appear above or below a letter or in some other position such as within the letter or between two letters.

The Hebrew alphabet, known variously by scholars as the Ktav Ashuri, Jewish script, square script and block script, is traditionally an abjad script used in the writing of the Hebrew language and other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, Judeo-Arabic, and Judeo-Persian. In modern Hebrew, vowels are increasingly introduced. It is also used informally in Israel to write Levantine Arabic, especially among Druze. It is an offshoot of the Imperial Aramaic alphabet, which flourished during the Achaemenid Empire and which itself derives from the Phoenician alphabet.

Iota is the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet. It was derived from the Phoenician letter Yodh. Letters that arose from this letter include the Latin I and J, the Cyrillic І, Yi, and Je, and iotated letters. In the system of Greek numerals, iota has a value of 10.

The Turkish alphabet is a Latin-script alphabet used for writing the Turkish language, consisting of 29 letters, seven of which have been modified from their Latin originals for the phonetic requirements of the language. This alphabet represents modern Turkish pronunciation with a high degree of accuracy and specificity. Mandated in 1928 as part of Atatürk's Reforms, it is the current official alphabet and the latest in a series of distinct alphabets used in different eras.

When used as a diacritic mark, the term dot refers to the glyphs "combining dot above", and "combining dot below" which may be combined with some letters of the extended Latin alphabets in use in a variety of languages. Similar marks are used with other scripts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Syriac alphabet</span> Writing system

The Syriac alphabet is a writing system primarily used to write the Syriac language since the 1st century AD. It is one of the Semitic abjads descending from the Aramaic alphabet through the Palmyrene alphabet, and shares similarities with the Phoenician, Hebrew, Arabic and Sogdian, the precursor and a direct ancestor of the traditional Mongolian scripts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">I (Cyrillic)</span> Letter of the Cyrillic script

I is a letter used in almost all Cyrillic alphabets with the exception of Belarusian.

English rarely uses diacritics, which are symbols indicating the modification of a letter's sound when spoken. Most of the affected words are in terms imported from other languages The two dots accent, the grave accent and the acute accent are the only diacritics native to Modern English, and their usage has tended to fall off except in certain publications and particular cases.

Yodh is the tenth letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician yōd 𐤉, Hebrew yud י, Aramaic yod 𐡉, Syriac yōḏ ܝ, and Arabic yāʾ ي. Its sound value is in all languages for which it is used; in many languages, it also serves as a long vowel, representing.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dotted I (Cyrillic)</span> Cyrillic letter

The dotted i, also called decimal i or soft-dotted i, is a letter of the Cyrillic script. It commonly represents the close front unrounded vowel, like the pronunciation of ⟨i⟩ in English "machine". It is used in the orthographies of Belarusian, Kazakh, Khakas, Komi, Carpathian Rusyn and Ukrainian and quite often, but not always, is the equivalent of the Cyrillic letter i (И и) as used in Russian and other languages. However, the letter І was also used in Russian before the Bolshevik reform of 1918.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Iota subscript</span> Diacritic mark in the Greek alphabet

The iota subscript is a diacritic mark in the Greek alphabet shaped like a small vertical stroke or miniature iota ⟨ι⟩ placed below the letter. It can occur with the vowel letters eta ⟨η⟩, omega ⟨ω⟩, and alpha ⟨α⟩. It represents the former presence of an offglide after the vowel, forming a so‐called "long diphthong". Such diphthongs —phonologically distinct from the corresponding normal or "short" diphthongs —were a feature of ancient Greek in the pre-classical and classical eras.

İ, or i, called dotted I or i-dot, is a letter used in the Latin-script alphabets of Azerbaijani, Crimean Tatar, Gagauz, Kazakh, Tatar, and Turkish. It commonly represents the close front unrounded vowel, except in Kazakh where it additionally represents the voiced palatal approximant and the diphthongs and. All of the languages it is used in also use its dotless counterpart I while not using the basic Latin letter I.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Matthew 5:18</span>

Matthew 5:18 is the eighteenth verse of the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament and is part of the Sermon on the Mount. In the previous verse, Jesus has stated that he came not to destroy the law, but fulfill it. In this verse, this claim is reinforced.

I, or ı, called dotless i, is a letter used in the Latin-script alphabets of Azerbaijani, Crimean Tatar, Gagauz, Kazakh, Tatar, Karakalpak and Turkish. It commonly represents the close back unrounded vowel, except in Kazakh where it represents the near-close front unrounded vowel. All of the languages it is used in also use its dotted counterpart İ while not using the basic Latin letter I.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">D with stroke</span> Variant of the letter D, used in Sámi alphabets, Serbo-Croatian Latin alphabet, and Vietnamese

Đ, known as crossed D or dyet, is a letter formed from the base character D/d overlaid with a crossbar. Crossing was used to create eth (ð), but eth has an uncial as its base whereas đ is based on the straight-backed roman d, like in Sámi Languages and Vietnamese. Crossed d is a letter in the alphabets of several languages and is used in linguistics as a voiced dental fricative.

The orthography of the Greek language ultimately has its roots in the adoption of the Greek alphabet in the 9th century BC. Some time prior to that, one early form of Greek, Mycenaean, was written in Linear B, although there was a lapse of several centuries between the time Mycenaean stopped being written and the time when the Greek alphabet came into use.

Greek orthography has used a variety of diacritics starting in the Hellenistic period. The more complex polytonic orthography, which includes five diacritics, notates Ancient Greek phonology. The simpler monotonic orthography, introduced in 1982, corresponds to Modern Greek phonology, and requires only two diacritics.

<i>Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum</i>

The Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum is a trilingual Vietnamese-Portuguese-Latin dictionary written by the French Jesuit lexicographer Alexandre de Rhodes after 12 years in Vietnam. It was published by the Propaganda Fide in Rome in 1651, upon Rhodes's visit to Europe, along with his catechism Phép giảng tám ngày.

I, or i, is the ninth letter and the third vowel letter of the Latin alphabet, used in the modern English alphabet, the alphabets of other western European languages and others worldwide. Its name in English is i, plural ies.

B with flourish is the Unicode name for the third letter of the Middle Vietnamese alphabet, sorted between B and C. The B with flourish has a rounded hook that starts halfway up the stem and curves about 180 degrees counterclockwise, ending below the bottom-left corner. It represents the voiced bilabial fricative, which in modern Vietnamese merged with the voiced labiodental fricative, written as the letter V in the Vietnamese alphabet.


  1. Oxford Dictionaries Online (US) — Is there a name for the dot above the letters i and j?
  2. nGram: tittle.
  3. Blue Letter Bible.
  4. Although, in majuscule texts iota is not smaller than the other Greek letters. See John P. Meier, Law and History in Matthew's Gospel: A Redactional Study of Mt. 5:17–48 (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1976), 56 n. 20.
  5. See David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, "The Significance of Jesus' Words 'Not One Jot or One Tittle Will Pass from the Law' (Matt. 5:18)" on JerusalemPerspective.com.
  6. See Origen, Selecta in Psalmos (ed. Migne, 12:1068).
  7. Meier, Law and History in Matthew's Gospel, 52.
  8. Günther Schwarz, "ἰῶτα ἓν ἢ μία κεραία (Matthäus 5 18)", Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 66.3–4 (1975): 268–269. (English translation).
  9. Grammatical analysis of Syriac Peshitta. Gospel of Matthew, verse 5:18.
  10. Wells, John C. (2001). "Orthographic Diacritics and Multilingual Computing". Language Problems and Language Planning . Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. 24 (3). ISSN   0272-2690. A further complication is the convention of removing the dot from i and j when adding a diacritic over them, as in í, ì, î, ĵ. In the Baltic countries, however, the dot is sometimes retained in these circumstances.
  11. de Rhodes, Alexander (1651). Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum. Rome: Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith.
  12. Where did the phrase "to the T" come from?