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Phonemic representationw, v, o, u
Position in alphabet6
Numerical value6
Alphabetic derivatives of the Phoenician

Waw/Vav (w?w "hook") is the sixth letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician w?w Phoenician waw.svg, Aramaic waw Waw.svg, Hebrew vav ?‎, Syriac waw ? and Arabic w?w ? (sixth in abjadi order; 27th in modern Arabic order).

It represents the consonant in Paleo Hebrew, and in Block Hebrew, as well as the vowels and . In text with niqqud, a dot is added to the left or on top of the letter to indicate, respectively, the two vowel pronunciations.

It is the origin of Greek ? (digamma) and ? (upsilon), Cyrillic ?, Latin F and V, and the derived "Latin"- or "Roman"- alphabet letters U, W, and Y.


The letter likely originated with an Egyptian hieroglyph which represented the word mace (transliterated as ?(dj)):


In Block Hebrew,the origin is certainly not Egyptian pictograph. the word vav is used to mean both "hook" and the letter's name (the name is also written ?).

Arabic w?w

Writing systemArabic script
Language of originArabic language
Phonetic usage,
Alphabetical position4
  • ?

The letter ? is named w?w and is written in several ways depending on its position in the word:

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form:
? ?

W?w is used to represent four distinct phonetic features:

  • A consonant, pronounced as a voiced labial-velar approximant /w/, which is the case whenever it is at the beginnings of words, but normally occurs also in the middle or end.
  • A long /u:/. The preceding consonant could either have no diacritic or a short-w?w-vowel mark, damma, to aid in the pronunciation by hinting to the following long vowel.
  • A long /o:/ In many dialects, as a result of the monophthongization that underwent the diphthong /aw/ in most of the words.
  • A part of a diphthong, /aw/. In this case it has no diacritic, but could be marked with a sukun in some traditions. The preceding consonant could either have no diacritic or have fat?a sign, hinting to the first vowel /a/ in the diphthong.

As a vowel, w?w can serve as the carrier of a hamza: ?.

W?w serves several functions in Arabic. Perhaps foremost among them is that it is the primary conjunction in Arabic, equivalent to "and"; it is usually prefixed to other conjunctions, such as ? wa-l?kin, meaning "but". Another function is the "oath", by preceding a noun of great significantly valued by the speaker. It is often literally translatable to "By..." or "I swear to...", and is often used in the Qur'an in this way, and also in the generally fixed construction wall?h ("By Allah!" or "I swear to God!").

Derived letters

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form:
? ?

With an additional triple dot diacritic above waw, the letter then named ve is used to represent distinctively the consonant in Arabic-based Uyghur.

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form:
? ?

in Sorani Kurdish; in Arabic-based Kazakh; in Uyghur.
Thirty-fourth letter of the Azerbaijani Arabic script, represents Ô .
It is also used for short vowel or in a lot of languages,[specify] for example "u" in bull ()

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form:
? ?

for or , used in a lot of languages,[specify] for example o in bold (?)

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form:
? ?

in Uyghur and also in other languages[specify] with a similar vowel.

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form:
? ?

in Southern Kurdish.

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form:
? ?

In Jawi script: Used for .

Other letters

See Arabic script in Unicode

Hebrew Waw / Vav

Orthographic variants
Various print fonts Cursive
Serif Sans-serif Monospaced
? ? ? Hebrew letter Vav handwriting.svg Hebrew letter Vav Rashi.png

Hebrew spelling: or ? or ?.

Pronunciation in Block Hebrew

Vav has three orthographic variants, each with a different phonemic value and phonetic realisation:[1]

Variant (with Niqqud) Without Niqqud Name Phonemic value Phonetic realisation English example


as initial letter:?

Consonantal Vav
(Hebrew: Vav Itsurit ?‎)
/v/, /w/ , vote
as middle letter:
as final letter:? or


Vav Shruka ([väv ?ru'kä] / ‎) or
Shuruq ([?u'ruk] / ‎)
/u/ glue


Vav Chaluma ([väv ?älu'mä] / ‎) or
Holam Male ([?o?'läm ma'le?] / ‎)
/o/ no, noh

In modern Hebrew, the frequency of the usage of vav, out of all the letters, is about 10.00%.

Vav as consonant

Consonantal vav (?‎) generally represents a voiced labiodental fricative (like the English v) in Ashkenazi, European Sephardi, Persian, Caucasian, Italian and modern Israeli Hebrew, and was originally a labial-velar approximant /w/.

In modern Israeli Hebrew, some loanwords, the pronunciation of whose source contains , and their derivations, are pronounced with : ?‎ - /'wa?ad/ (but: ?‎ - /'vadi/).

Modern Hebrew has no standardized way to distinguish orthographically between and .[1] The pronunciation is determined by prior knowledge or must be derived through context.

Some non standard spellings of the sound are sometimes found in modern Hebrew texts, such as word-initial double-vav: ‎ - /'wala/ (word-medial double-vav is both standard and common for both and , see table above) or, rarely, vav with a geresh: ?‎ - /'wiljam/.

Vav with a dot on top

Vav can be used as a mater lectionis for an o vowel, in which case it is known as a ?olam male, which in pointed text is marked as vav with a dot above it. It is pronounced (phonemically transcribed more simply as /o/).

The distinction is normally ignored, and the HEBREW POINT HOLAM (U+05B9) is used in all cases.

The vowel can be denoted without the vav, as just the dot placed above and to the left of the letter it points, and it is then called ?olam ?aser. Some inadequate typefaces do not support the distinction between the ?olam male ?‎? /o/, the consonantal vav pointed with a ?olam ?aser ?‎? /vo/ (compare ?olam male ?ֹ?‎? /ma'tsot/ and consonantal vav-?olam ?aser ?ֺ?‎? /mits'vot/). To display a consonantal vav with ?olam ?aser correctly, the typeface must either support the vav with the Unicode combining character "HEBREW POINT HOLAM HASER FOR VAV" (U+05BA, HTML Entity (decimal) ֺ)[2] or the precomposed character ‎ (U+FB4B).

Compare the three:

  1. The vav with the combining character HEBREW POINT HOLAM: ֹ?
  2. The vav with the combining character HEBREW POINT HOLAM HASER FOR VAV: ֺ?
  3. The precomposed character: ?

Vav with a dot in the middle

Vav can also be used as a mater lectionis for , in which case it is known as a shuruk, and in text with niqqud is marked with a dot in the middle (on the left side).

Shuruk and vav with a dagesh look identical ("‎") and are only distinguishable through the fact that in text with niqqud, vav with a dagesh will normally be attributed a vocal point in addition, e.g. ‎ (/?uk/), "a market", (the "‎" denotes a shuruk) as opposed to ?‎ (/?i'vek/), "to market" (the "‎" denotes a vav with dagesh and is additionally pointed with a zeire, " ? ", denoting /e/). In the word ‎ (/?i'vuk/), "marketing", the first ("‎") denotes a vav with dagesh, the second a shuruk, being the vowel attributed to the first.

Numerical value

Vav in gematria represents the number six, and when used at the beginning of Hebrew years, it means 6000 (i.e. in numbers would be the date 6754.)

Words written as vav

Vav at the beginning of the word has several possible meanings:

  • vav conjunctive (Vav Hachibur, literally "the Vav of Connection"--chibur means "joining, or bringing together") is a vav connecting two words or parts of a sentence; it is a grammatical conjunction meaning 'and' , cognate to the Arabic. This is the most common usage.
  • vav consecutive (Vav Hahipuch, literally "the Vav of Reversal"--hipuch means "inversion"), mainly biblical, commonly mistaken for the previous type of vav; it indicates consequence of actions and reverses the tense of the verb following it:
    • when placed in front of a verb in the imperfect tense, it changes the verb to the perfect tense. For example, yomar means 'he will say' and vayomar means 'he said';
    • when placed in front of a verb in the perfect, it changes the verb to the imperfect tense. For example, ahavtah means 'you loved', and ve'ahavtah means 'you will love'.

(Note: Older Hebrew did not have "tense" in a temporal sense, "perfect," and "imperfect" instead denoting aspect of completed or continuing action. Modern Hebrew verbal tenses have developed closer to their Indo-European counterparts, mostly having a temporal quality rather than denoting aspect. As a rule, Modern Hebrew does not use the "Vav Consecutive" form.)


In Yiddish,[3] the letter (known as vov) is used for several orthographic purposes in native words:

  • Alone, a single vov ?‎ represents the vowel in standard Yiddish.
  • The digraph ‎, "tsvey vovn" ('two vovs'), represents the consonant .
  • The digraph ‎, consisting of a vov followed by a yud, represents the diphthong [oj].

The single vov may be written with a dot on the left when necessary to avoid ambiguity and distinguish it from other functions of the letter. For example, the word vu 'where' is spelled ?‎, as tsvey vovn followed by a single vov; the single vov indicating is marked with a dot in order to distinguish which of the three vovs represents the vowel. Some texts instead separate the digraph from the single vov with a silent aleph.

Loanwords from Hebrew or Aramaic in Yiddish are spelled as they are in their language of origin.

Syriac Waw

Syriac Eastern waw.svg Madn?aya Waw
Syriac Estrangela waw.svg Ser?o Waw
Syriac Serta waw.svg Es?rangela Waw

Syriac letter shapes Waw.PNG

In the Syriac alphabet, the sixth letter is ?. Waw () is pronounced [w]. When it is used as a mater lectionis, a waw with a dot above the letter is pronounced [o], and a waw with a dot under the letter is pronounced [u]. Was has an alphabetic-numeral value of 6.

Character encodings

Character information
Preview ו و ܘ
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 1493 U+05D5 1608 U+0648 1816 U+0718 2053 U+0805 64309 U+FB35 64331 U+FB4B
UTF-8 215 149 D7 95 217 136 D9 88 220 152 DC 98 224 160 133 E0 A0 85 239 172 181 EF AC B5 239 173 139 EF AD 8B
Numeric character reference ו ו و و ܘ ܘ ࠅ ࠅ וּ וּ וֹ וֹ
Character information
Preview 𐎆 𐡅 𐤅
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 66438 U+10386 67653 U+10845 67845 U+10905
UTF-8 240 144 142 134 F0 90 8E 86 240 144 161 133 F0 90 A1 85 240 144 164 133 F0 90 A4 85
UTF-16 55296 57222 D800 DF86 55298 56389 D802 DC45 55298 56581 D802 DD05
Numeric character reference 𐎆 𐎆 𐡅 𐡅 𐤅 𐤅


  1. ^ a b "Announcements of the Academy of the Hebrew Language" (PDF). Retrieved .
  2. ^ "List of fonts that support U+05BA at". Fileformat.info. Retrieved .
  3. ^ Weinreich, Uriel (1992). College Yiddish. New York: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. pp. 27-8.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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