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Q (letter)

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Q, q is a letter of the Latin alphabet. It is the seventeenth letter of most variants, being placed after P and before R, as is the case for instance in the English alphabet. Its English name is pronounced [ˈkjuː], like the words cue and queue.

Use in English

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Use in English
Alphabetical word list
Retroalphabetical list  
Common misspellings  

q has the same sound as k in kít and c in cát. It is almost always followed by a u, which is normally pronounced w. So qu = kw (kw itself is rare and accidental: åwkward): quêen, quîet, quîte, quínce, quít, quíck, quêer, quâil, quáck, qùad, quŏrum, êqual, équity, aquátic, përquisíte, réquisíte, líquid. The keyboard-describing word qwërty sounds like *quërty.

  • The accents show stress and pronunciation (see English spellings): A: sát, mâde, pàrk, cāst (cást/càst), åll, ãir; E: ére, êar, vèin, fërn; I: sít, mîne, skì, bïrd; O: sóng, môde, lòve, wörd, ŏr; OO: moôn, foòt; U: sún, mûse, fùll, pürr; W: neŵ, ẁant; Y: gým, mŷ, keỳ, mÿrrh.

q is also used in transliterations from other languages to represent sounds not used in English: most commonly, that of the letter qáf in Arabic, as well as similar sounds in other Semitic languages and various Iranian languages including Persian. Thus q alone is used at the end of certain words from Arabic: Sádiq, Táriq, Iràq, and only in similar examples can it be doubled or otherwise appear minus the u: Sadíqqi, Qátar, Irāqi, níqab, qát stimulant (= cát animal).

In the pinyin system of transliterating Chinese, q is pronounced like ch in chürch, so Qíng Dynasty = Chíng I Ching.

In British English, qu can have an odd effect on a, like that of w in ẁas, making a sound like ó (shown here as qùa-): qùantity, qùarrel, qùality, eqùality (in American English, these are just quà-.). And, also as after w, it can go even further, as in quårtz (cf. wåltz).

Other vowels are not affected: quést, quêasy, quôte, inquîry or enquîry and neither is the a in quàrk, quáck.

The first u in queûe is redundant, so that the usual w sound gives way to the y semi-consonant that begins , so queûe line = Keŵ Gardens = cûe prompt, billiards = the name of the letter Q.

The ending -que sounds like -k: BrE chéque money (= chéck verify, AmE money = Czéch nationality), unìque, bezìque, oblìque, clìque, opâque, mósque, Bāsque, Cínque Pŏrts; cf. -gue: lêague, plâgue, also with silent -ue. The u is also silent in cónquer win (= cónker nut).

Other redundant us after q or cq: líquor drink (= lícker lick), lácquer varnish (= lácker lack), pìquèt/píquet cards (*pêekây or = pícket fence, strike), crôquèt (*crôakây), Jácqueline (girl's name = Jácklin surname).

In old Scottish spelling, quh represented the sound now spelt wh. This old spelling is retained in some proper names, with varying pronunciations: Fàrquhar *Fàrkwar, Colquhoûn *Cohoôn (a rare instance of silent q).

q does not begin clusters.

qq appears only in some Arabic names (Ráqqa); its normal 'double' is cq as in acquîre and acquiésce.

Uses as separate symbol

  • Q: source believed to have been used by the authors of the gospels traditionally ascribed to Matthew and Luke
  • Q: pen-name of Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch