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Posted by on May 3, 2016 in Tell Me Why |

How Did We Get Our Letter W?

How Did We Get Our Letter W?

The letter W developed from a symbol used by the ancient Semites, who lived in Syria and Palestine. They named it “waw,” meaning “hook.” The Greeks wrote the letter in this way: (Y). The Romans, who took it from the Greeks, gave it a V shape. They first pronounced it as we pronounce W, but later pronounced it as V.

During the 11th century A.D., medieval scribes needed a letter in their alphabet for the W sound. To get one they put two V’s together. The VV was also written as UU. It came to be called “double U” in English and was written in its modern form (W).

Early printers sometimes used vv for lack of a w in their type. The name double-u recalls the former identity of u and v, which you can also see in a number of words with a related origin, for example flour/flower, guard/ward, or suede/Swede.

Content for this question contributed by Peter Collura, resident of Mantua, Portage County, Ohio, USA