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Basic Latin alphabet
Aa Bb Cc Dd    
Ee Ff Gg Hh
Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn
Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt
Uu Vv Ww Xx Yy Zz

E (/[unsupported input]/; named e, plural ees)[1] is the fifth letter and a vowel in the basic modern Latin alphabet. It is the most commonly used letter in the Czech,[2] Danish,[2] Dutch,[2] English,[3] French,[4] German,[5] Hungarian,[2] Latin,[2] Norwegian,[2] Spanish,[6] and Swedish languages.[2]


Egyptian hieroglyph
Proto-semiticE-01.png PhoenicianE-01.svg Alfabeto camuno-e.svg Epsilon uc lc.svg Roman E

‹E› differs little from its derived source, the Greek letter epsilon ‹Ε›. In etymology, the Semitic probably first represented a praying or calling human figure (hillul 'jubilation'), and was probably based on a similar Egyptian hieroglyph that indicated a different pronunciation. In Semitic, the letter represented /h/ (and /e/ in foreign words), in Greek became epsilon with the value /e/. Etruscans and Romans followed this usage. 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 /e/ (as in met or bed) remains a mid vowel.


Like other Latin vowels, ‹e› came in a long and a short variety. Originally, the only difference was in length but later on, short ‹e› represented /ɛ/. In other languages that use the ‹e›, it represents various other phonetic values, sometimes with accents to indicate contrasts (‹e ê é è ë ē ĕ ě ė ę ›).

Digraphs with ‹e› are common in many languages to indicate diphthongs and 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.

In English, the salient phenomenon silent e's, although arising from old inflections that have been dropped, still retain a function as they indicate that certain vowels in the word are long vowels (for example rat has a short vowel and rate has a long one).

‹E› is the most common (or highest frequency) letter in the English alphabet (starting off the typographer's phrase ETAOIN SHRDLU) and several other European languages, which has implications in both cryptography and data compression. 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 that "at least part of Wright's narrative issues were caused by language limitations imposed by the lack of E."[7] Both Georges Perec's novel A Void (La Disparition) (1969) and its English translation by Gilbert Adair omit ‹e› and are considered better works.[8]

Computing codes

Alternative representations of E
NATO phonetic Morse code
Echo ·
ICS Echo.svg Semaphore Echo.svg ⠑
Signal flag Flag semaphore Braille

In Unicode, the capital ‹E› is codepoint U+0045 E latin capital letter e (HTML E) and the lower case ‹e› is U+0065 e latin small letter e (HTML e).

The ASCII code for capital ‹E› is 69 (01000101 in binary), and the code for lowercase ‹e› is 101 (01100101 in binary). The EBCDIC code for capital ‹E› is 197, and the code for lowercase ‹e› is 133.

The numeric character references in HTML and XML are "E" and "e" for upper and lower case, respectively.

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.

See also


  1. "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 E's, Es, e's, or es.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Kelk, Brian. "Letter frequencies". UK Free Software Network. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  3. Lewand, Robert. "Relative Frequencies of Letters in General English Plain text". Cryptographical Mathematics. Central College. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  4. "Frequency of Occurrence of Letters in French". Santa Cruz Public Libraries. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  5. "Frequency of Occurrence of Letters in German". Santa Cruz Public Libraries. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  6. "Frequency of Occurrence of Letters in Spanish". Santa Cruz Public Libraries. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  7. Ross Eckler, Making the Alphabet Dance: Recreational Word Play. New York: St. Martin's Press (1996): 3
  8. Eckler (1996): 3. Perec's novel "was so well written that at least some reviewers never realized the existence of a letter constraint."

ace:E af:E als:E ar:E an:E arc:E ast:E az:E zh-min-nan:E be:E, літара be-x-old:E (літара) bs:E br:E (lizherenn) bg:E ca:E cs:E co:E cy:E da:E de:E et:E el:E eml:E es:E eo:E eu:E fa:E fr:E (lettre) fy:E fur:E gv:Eboin gd:E gl:E gan:E xal:E үзг ko:E hr:E io:E ilo:E id:E is:E it:E he:E ka:E kw:E sw:E ht:E ku:E (tîp) la:E lv:E lb:E lt:E hu:E mk:E (Латиница) mg:E mr:E mzn:E ms:E my:E nah:E nl:E (letter) ja:E no:E nn:E nrm:E uz:E (harf) pms:É! nds:E pl:E pt:E crh:E ro:E qu:E ru:E (латиница) se:E stq:E simple:E sk:E sl:E sr:E (слово латинице) sh:E fi:E sv:E tl:E th:E tr:E (harf) uk:E (латиниця) vi:E vo:E war:E yi:E yo:E zh-yue:E diq:E bat-smg:E zh:E