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V (letter)

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V, v is a letter of the Latin alphabet. It is the twenty-second letter of most variants, being placed after U and before W, as is the case for instance in the English alphabet. Its English name is pronounced [ˈviː], vee.

V is also the Roman numeral representing the number 5.

The phoneme /v/ occurs in many languages, but is absent in many others; many speakers may substitute some kind of [b] or [u]. For example, Japanese makes use of both: ウイルス uirusu 'virus' and ライブ raibu 'live'.

Use in English

Use in English
Alphabetical word list
Retroalphabetical list  
Common misspellings  

v is a labiodental fricative, partially or completely voiced, air passing between the lower lip and upper front teeth as they touch. It differs from f only in that the vocal folds vibrate, which does not occur for f: compare vîle and fîle. This is in contrast to w, where both lips are used without touching each other or any teeth: compare vèil cover = vâle valley and, rhyming, wâil cry. The v sound involves more friction as air passes through the mouth; for w the lips are further apart, making the sound more vowel-like. Examples: vúlgar, véry, vāst, háve, wâve, and finally in spív, Slàv, dërv.

  • 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.

v is rare at the end of a word, and it is most commonly found in that position pronounced f in Slavonic (i.e. Russian, Bulgarian, etc.) names: Rachmáninov, Prokófiev, Medvédev *Midvyédiff, Khrùshchev (-chóff), Mólotov; it is also in Névsky (pronounced v) and Tchaikóvsky (usually pronounced f).

Being rare at the end, v hardly ever needs to be doubled; just occasionally, as in révved úp thê éngine, to avoid sounding like "rêved", and spívvery, to avoid "spîvery". v does not normally have to be doubled after a preceding short vowel (usually é): séven, cléver, héaven, éver, évery, séver, bévy, lòver, drível, cívil. But it doubles before final y to emphasise that the preceding vowel is short: chívvy, sávvy, návvy (compare chîves and nâvy) and similarly in cívvies. So flívver, rhyming with ríver, is unusual.

The preceding vowel is long in: êven, fêver, hâver, fâvour, sâviour, ôver, clôver, drîver, dîver, wâver, hâven and Stêven (= the more regular spelling of Stêphen, which does not have an f sound).

As v rarely ends words, so it rarely occurs before consonants; it does, though, in the French word for Âpril, adopted as a girl's name, Ávril.

v occurs after s to signify a whistled consonant in words from the Shona language, as in Masvíngo and Mǒrgan Tsvángiraî. English speakers often pronounce the latter name as *Chángiraî.

Scientific uses

  • V: volt, unit of electric potential (difference)
  • v: velocity
  • V: vanadium