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H h
Writing system Latin script
Type Alphabetic
Language of origin Latin language
Phonetic usage []

Unicode value U+0048, U+0068
Alphabetical position 8
Time period ~-700 to present
Descendants Ħ

Sisters И

Հ հ
Other letters commonly used with h(x), ch, gh, nh, ph, sh, ſh, th, wh, (x)h

H, or h, is the eighth letter in the Latin alphabet, used in the modern English alphabet, the alphabets of other western European languages and others worldwide. Its name in English is aitch (pronounced plural aitches), or regionally haitch.


Egyptian hieroglyph
Proto-semiticH-01.svg PhoenicianH-01.svg PhoenicianH-01.svgGreek Eta 2-bars.svg
Greek Eta square-2-bars.svgGreek Eta diagonal.svg
PhoenicianH-01.svg Capitalis monumentalis H.svg

The original Semitic letter Heth most likely represented the voiceless pharyngeal fricative. The form of the letter probably stood for a fence or posts.

The Greek Eta 'Η' in archaic Greek alphabets, before coming to represent a long vowel still represented a similar sound, the voiceless glottal fricative. In this context, the letter eta is also known as Heta to underline this fact. Thus, in the Old Italic alphabets, the letter Heta of the Euboean alphabet was adopted with its original sound value.

While Etruscan and Latin had as a phoneme, almost all Romance languages lost the sound—Romanian later re-borrowed the phoneme from its neighbouring Slavic languages, and Spanish developed a secondary from before losing it again; various Spanish dialects have developed as an allophone of or in most Spanish-speaking countries, and various dialects of Portuguese use it as an allophone of. 'H' is also used in many spelling systems in digraphs and trigraphs, such as 'ch', which represents in Spanish, Galician, and Old Portuguese; in French and modern Portuguese; in Italian and French.

Name in English

For most English speakers, the name for the letter is pronounced as and spelled "aitch" or occasionally "eitch". The pronunciation and the associated spelling "haitch" is often considered to be h-adding and is considered non-standard in England. It is, however, a feature of Hiberno-English, and occurs sporadically in various other dialects.

The perceived name of the letter affects the choice of indefinite article before initialisms beginning with H: for example "an H-bomb" or "a H-bomb". The pronunciation may be a hypercorrection formed by analogy with the names of the other letters of the alphabet, most of which include the sound they represent.

The haitch pronunciation of h has spread in England, being used by approximately 24% of English people born since 1982, and polls continue to show this pronunciation becoming more common among younger native speakers. Despite this increasing number, the pronunciation without the sound is still considered to be standard in England, although the pronunciation with is also attested as a legitimate variant. In Northern Ireland, the pronunciation of the letter has been used as a shibboleth, with Catholics typically pronouncing it with the and Protestants pronouncing the letter without it.

Authorities disagree about the history of the letter's name. The Oxford English Dictionary says the original name of the letter was in Latin; this became in Vulgar Latin, passed into English via Old French and by Middle English was pronounced. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language derives it from French hache from Latin haca or hic. Anatoly Liberman suggests a conflation of two obsolete orderings of the alphabet, one with H immediately followed by K and the other without any K: reciting the former's ..., H, K, L,... as when reinterpreted for the latter ..., H, L,... would imply a pronunciation for H.

Related characters

Descendants and related characters in the Latin alphabet

  • H with diacritics: Ĥ ĥ Ȟ ȟ Ħ ħ Ḩ ḩ Ⱨ ⱨ ẖ ẖ Ḥ ḥ Ḣ ḣ Ḧ ḧ Ḫ ḫ ꞕ Ꜧ ꜧ
  • IPA-specific symbols related to H:
  • Superscript IPA symbols related to H: 𐞖 𐞕
  • ꟸ: Modifier letter capital H with stroke is used in VoQS to represent faucalized voice.
  • ᴴ : Modifier letter H is used in the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet
  • ₕ : Subscript small h was used in the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet prior to its formal standardization in 1902
  • ʰ : Modifier letter small h is used in Indo-European studies
  • ʮ and ʯ : Turned H with fishhook and turned H with fishhook and tail are used in Sino-Tibetanist linguistics
  • Ƕ ƕ : Latin letter hwair, derived from a ligature of the digraph hv, and used to transliterate the Gothic letter 𐍈 (which represented the sound [hʷ])
  • Ⱶ ⱶ : Claudian letters
  • Ꟶ ꟶ : Reversed half h used in Roman inscriptions from the Roman provinces of Gaul

Ancestors, siblings, and descendants in other alphabets

  • 𐤇 : Semitic letter Heth, from which the following symbols derive
    • Η η : Greek letter Eta, from which the following symbols derive
      • 𐌇 : Old Italic H, the ancestor of modern Latin H
        • ᚺ, ᚻ : Runic letter haglaz, which is probably a descendant of Old Italic H
      • Һ һ : Cyrillic letter Shha, which derives from Latin H
      • И и : Cyrillic letter И, which derives from the Greek letter Eta
      • 𐌷 : Gothic letter haal
      • Armenian letter ho (Հ)

Derived signs, symbols, and abbreviations

Computing codes

Character information
Preview H h
Encodings decimal hex dec hex
Unicode 72 U+0048 104 U+0068
UTF-8 72 48 104 68
Numeric character reference H H h h
EBCDIC family 200 C8 136 88
ASCII 1 72 48 104 68

1 and all encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859, and Macintosh families of encodings.

Other representations

NATO phonetic Morse code
ICS Hotel.svg

Semaphore Hotel.svg

Sign language H.svg BSL letter H.svg ⠓
Signal flag Flag semaphore American manual alphabet (ASL fingerspelling) British manual alphabet (BSL fingerspelling) Braille dots-125
Unified English Braille

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: H para niños

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