E or e is the fifth letter and the second vowel letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its name in English is e (pronounced //), plural ees. It is the most commonly used letter in many languages, including Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Latin, Latvian, Norwegian, Spanish, and Swedish.
|Writing system||Latin script|
|Language of origin||Latin language|
|Time period||c. 700 BC to present|
|Descendants|| • ♯|
|Other letters commonly used with||ee|
The Latin letter 'E' differs little from its source, the Greek letter epsilon, 'Ε'. This in turn comes from the Semitic letter hê, which has been suggested to have started as a praying or calling human figure (hillul 'jubilation'), and was most likely based on a similar Egyptian hieroglyph that indicated a different pronunciation. In Semitic, the letter represented /h/ (and /e/ in foreign words); in Greek, hê became the letter epsilon, used to represent /e/. The various forms of the Old Italic script and the Latin alphabet followed this usage.
Use in writing systems
Although Middle English spelling used ⟨e⟩ to represent long and short /e/, the Great Vowel Shift changed long /eː/ (as in 'me' or 'bee') to /iː/ while short /ɛ/ (as in 'met' or 'bed') remained a mid vowel. In other cases, the letter is silent, generally at the end of words.
In the orthography of many languages it represents either [e], [e̞], [ɛ], or some variation (such as a nasalized version) of these sounds, often with diacritics (as: ⟨e ê é è ë ē ĕ ě ẽ ė ẹ ę ẻ⟩) to indicate contrasts. Less commonly, as in French, German, or Saanich, ⟨e⟩ represents a mid-central vowel /ə/. Digraphs with ⟨e⟩ are common to indicate either diphthongs or monophthongs, such as ⟨ea⟩ or ⟨ee⟩ for /iː/ or /eɪ/ in English, ⟨ei⟩ for /aɪ/ in German, and ⟨eu⟩ for /ø/ in French or /ɔɪ/ in German.
Most common letter
'E' is the most common (or highest-frequency) letter in the English language alphabet (starting off the typographer's phrase ETAOIN SHRDLU) and several other European languages, which has implications in both cryptography and data compression. In the story "The Gold-Bug" by Edgar Allan Poe, a character figures out a random character code by remembering that the most used letter in English is E. This makes it a hard and popular letter to use when writing lipograms. Ernest Vincent Wright's Gadsby (1939) is considered a "dreadful" novel, and supposedly "at least part of Wright's narrative issues were caused by language limitations imposed by the lack of E." Both Georges Perec's novel A Void (La Disparition) (1969) and its English translation by Gilbert Adair omit 'e' and are considered better works. This also makes it hard to spell different words because it is really common.
Descendants and related characters in the Latin alphabet
- E with diacritics: Ĕ ĕ Ḝ ḝ Ȇ ȇ Ê ê Ê̄ ê̄ Ê̌ ê̌ Ề ề Ế ế Ể ể Ễ ễ Ệ ệ Ẻ ẻ Ḙ ḙ Ě ě Ɇ ɇ Ė ė Ė́ ė́ Ė̃ ė̃ Ẹ ẹ Ë ë È è È̩ è̩ Ȅ ȅ É é É̩ é̩ Ē ē Ḕ ḕ Ḗ ḗ Ẽ ẽ Ḛ ḛ Ę ę Ę́ ę́ Ę̃ ę̃ Ȩ ȩ E̩ e̩ ᶒ
- ⱸ : E with notch is used in the Swedish Dialect Alphabet
- Æ æ : Latin AE ligature
- Œ œ : Latin OE ligature
- The umlaut diacritic ¨ used above a vowel letter in German and other languages to indicate a fronted or front vowel (this sign originated as a superscript e)
- Phonetic alphabet symbols related to E (the International Phonetic Alphabet only uses lowercase, but uppercase forms are used in some other writing systems):
- Ɛ ɛ : Latin letter epsilon / open e, which represents an open-mid front unrounded vowel in the IPA
- ᶓ : Epsilon / open e with retroflex hook
- Ɜ ɜ : Latin letter reversed epsilon / open e, which represents an open-mid central unrounded vowel in the IPA
- ɝ : Latin small letter reversed epsilon / open e with hook, which represents a rhotacized open-mid central vowel in the IPA
- ᶔ : Reversed epsilon / open e with retroflex hook
- ᶟ : Modifier letter small reversed epsilon / open e
- ɞ : Latin small letter closed reversed open e, which represents an open-mid central rounded vowel in IPA (shown as ʚ on the 1993 IPA chart)
- Ə ə : Latin letter schwa, which represents a mid central vowel in the IPA
- Ǝ ǝ : Latin letter turned e, which is used in the writing systems of some African languages
- ɘ : Latin letter reversed e, which represents a close-mid central unrounded vowel in the IPA
- The Uralic Phonetic Alphabet uses various forms of e and epsilon / open e:
- U+1D07 ᴇ LATIN LETTER SMALL CAPITAL E
- U+1D08 ᴈ LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED OPEN E
- U+1D31 ᴱ MODIFIER LETTER CAPITAL E
- U+1D32 ᴲ MODIFIER LETTER CAPITAL REVERSED E
- U+1D49 ᵉ MODIFIER LETTER SMALL E
- U+1D4B ᵋ MODIFIER LETTER SMALL OPEN E
- U+1D4C ᵌ MODIFIER LETTER SMALL TURNED OPEN E
- U+2C7B ⱻ LATIN LETTER SMALL CAPITAL TURNED E
- ₑ : Subscript small e is used in Indo-European studies
- Teuthonista phonetic transcription system symbols related to E:
- U+AB32 ꬲ LATIN SMALL LETTER BLACKLETTER E
- U+AB33 ꬳ LATIN SMALL LETTER BARRED E
- U+AB34 ꬴ LATIN SMALL LETTER E WITH FLOURISH
Ancestors and siblings in other alphabets
- 𐤄 : Semitic letter He (letter), from which the following symbols originally derive
- Ε ε : Greek letter Epsilon, from which the following symbols originally derive
Derived signs, symbols and abbreviations
- € : Euro sign.
- ℮ : Estimated sign (used on prepackaged goods for sale within the European Union).
- e : the symbol for the elementary charge (the electric charge carried by a single proton)
- ∃ : existential quantifier in predicate logic.
- ∈ : the symbol for set membership in set theory.
- ℯ : the base of the natural logarithm.
- ℇ : the Euler–Mascheroni constant.
|Unicode name||LATIN CAPITAL LETTER E||LATIN SMALL LETTER E|
|Numeric character reference||E||E||e||e|
- 1 Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.
|NATO phonetic||Morse code|
|Signal flag||Flag semaphore||American manual alphabet (ASL fingerspelling)||Braille |
In British Sign Language (BSL), the letter 'e' is signed by extending the index finger of the right hand touching the tip of index on the left hand, with all fingers of left hand open.
- "E" a letter Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged (1993). Ees is the plural of the name of the letter; the plural of the letter itself is rendered E's, Es, e's, or es.
- Kelk, Brian. "Letter frequencies". UK Free Software Network. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- Lewand, Robert. "Relative Frequencies of Letters in General English Plain text". Cryptographical Mathematics. Central College. Archived from the original on 2008-07-08. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- "Frequency of Occurrence of Letters in Spanish". Santa Cruz Public Libraries. Archived from the original on 2008-05-11. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- "Frequency of Occurrence of Letters in French". Santa Cruz Public Libraries. Archived from the original on 2008-03-12. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- "Frequency of Occurrence of Letters in German". Santa Cruz Public Libraries. Archived from the original on 2012-06-28. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- Ross Eckler, Making the Alphabet Dance: Recreational Word Play. New York: St. Martin's Press (1996): 3
- Eckler (1996): 3. Perec's novel "was so well written that at least some reviewers never realized the existence of a letter constraint."
- Constable, Peter (2004-04-19). "L2/04-132 Proposal to add additional phonetic characters to the UCS" (PDF).
- Lemonen, Therese; Ruppel, Klaas; Kolehmainen, Erkki I.; Sandström, Caroline (2006-01-26). "L2/06-036: Proposal to encode characters for Ordbok över Finlands svenska folkmål in the UCS" (PDF).
- Everson, Michael; et al. (2002-03-20). "L2/02-141: Uralic Phonetic Alphabet characters for the UCS" (PDF).
- Ruppel, Klaas; Rueter, Jack; Kolehmainen, Erkki I. (2006-04-07). "L2/06-215: Proposal for Encoding 3 Additional Characters of the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet" (PDF).
- Anderson, Deborah; Everson, Michael (2004-06-07). "L2/04-191: Proposal to encode six Indo-Europeanist phonetic characters in the UCS" (PDF).
- 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).