digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















Not to be confused with the letter "ʃ" (Esh).
The correct title of this article is ſ. It appears incorrectly here because of technical restrictions.
An italicized long s used in the word "Congress" in the United States Bill of Rights

The long, medial, or descending s (ſ) is a form of the minuscule letter s, which was formerly used where s occurred in the middle or at the beginning of a word (e.g. "ſinfulneſs" "sinfulness"). The modern letterform was called the terminal, round, or short s.


The medial 's' in Old Roman cursive
Title page of John Milton's Paradise Lost, featuring an "ſt" ligature
5th edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1817, top, compared to the 6th edition of 1823; the only change was the removal of the long s from the font

The long s was derived from the old Roman cursive medial s. When the distinction between majuscule (uppercase) and minuscule (lowercase) letter forms became established, toward the end of the eighth century, it developed a more vertical form.[1] During this period, it was occasionally used at the end of a word, a practice that quickly died but that was occasionally revived in Italian printing between about 1465 and 1480. Thus, the general rule that the long s "never occurred at the end of a word" is not strictly correct, although the exceptions are rare and archaic. The double s in the middle of a word was often written with a long s and a short s, as in Miſsiſsippi.[2] In German blackletter, the rules are more complicated: short s also appears at the end of each component within a compound word.

The long s is often confused with the minuscule f, sometimes even having an f-like nub at its middle, but on the left side only, in various Roman typefaces and in blackletter. There was no nub in its italic typeform, which gave the stroke a descender that curled to the left and which is not possible without kerning in the other typeforms mentioned. For this reason, the short s was also normally used in combination with f: for example, in "ſatisfaction".

The nub acquired its form in the blackletter style of writing. What looks like one stroke was actually a wedge pointing downward. The wedge's widest part was at that height (x-height), and capped by a second stroke that formed an ascender that curled to the right. Those styles of writing and their derivatives in type design had a cross-bar at the height of the nub for letters f and t, as well as for k. In Roman type, except for the cross bar on medial s, all other cross bars disappeared.

The long s was used in ligatures in various languages. Three examples were for si, ss, and st, besides the German letter ß. The long s survives in Fraktur typefaces.

When a font containing the long s is used, German typographic rules require the common s to be used when it occurs singly at the end of a syllable, while the long s is used at the beginning of a syllable (more detailed rules are given for other cases).

Greek sigma also features an initial/medial σ and a final ς, which may have supported the idea of such specialized s forms. In Renaissance Europe a significant fraction of the literate class was familiar with Ancient Greek.

The present-day German letter ß (Eszett or scharfes S in German; also used in Low German and historical Upper Sorbian orthographies) is considered to have originated in a ligature of ſz (which is supported by the fact that the second part of the ß glyph usually resembles a Fraktur z), or ſs (see ß for more), or some Tironian notes.[3]

Some old orthographic systems of Slavonic and Baltic languages used ſ and s as two separate letters with different phonetic values. For example, the Bohorič alphabet of the Slovene language included ſ /s/, s /z/, ſh /ʃ/, sh /ʒ/. In the original version of the alphabet, majuscule S was shared by both letters; later a modified character Ş became the counterpart of ſ.

Also, some Latin alphabets devised in the 1920s for some Caucasian languages used the ſ for some specific sounds.[4] These orthographies were in actual use until 1938.[5] Some of these had developed a capital form which roughly resembles a smoothed variant of the letter U+0295 ʕ latin letter pharyngeal voiced fricative.

Udi alphabet table from a 1934 book, showing a capital long s near the end of the 3rd column

Decline in use[edit]

In general, the long s fell out of use in Roman and italic typefaces in professional printing well before the middle of the 19th century. It “rarely appears in good quality London printing after 1800, though it lingers provincially till 1824, and is found in handwriting into the second half of the nineteenth century"[6] as well as in printed collections of sermons.

Abandonment by printers and typefounders[edit]

The long s disappeared from new fonts rapidly in the mid-1790s, and most printers who could afford to do so had discarded older fonts by the early years of the 19th century. Pioneer of type design John Bell (1746–1831), who started the British Letter Foundry in 1788, commissioned William Caslon to produce a new modern font for him and is often “credited with the demise of the long s."[7]

The 1808 Printer’s Grammar describes the transition away from the use of the long s among typefounders and printers in its list of available sorts:

The introduction of the round s, instead of the long, is an improvement in the art of printing equal, if not superior, to any which has taken place in recent years, and for which we are indebted to the ingenious Mr. Bell, who introduced them in his edition of the British Classics [published in the 1780s and 1790s]. They are now generally adopted, and the [typefounders] scarcely ever cast a long s to their fonts, unless particularly ordered. Indeed, they omit it altogether in their specimens.... They are placed in our list of sorts, not to recommend them, but because we may not be subject to blame from those of the old school, who are tenacious of deviating from custom, however antiquated, for giving a list which they might term imperfect."[8]

An individual instance of an important work using s instead of the long s occurred in 1749, with Joseph AmesTypographical Antiquities, about printing in England 1471–1600, but “the general abolition of long s began with John Bell's British Theatre (1791).”[9]

In Spain, the change was mainly accomplished between the years 1760 and 1766; for example, the multi-volume España Sagrada made the switch with volume 16 (1762). In France, the change occurred between 1782 and 1793. Printers in the United States stopped using the long s between 1795 and 1810: for example, acts of Congress were published with the long s throughout 1803, switching to the short s in 1804. In the U.S., a late use of the long s was in Low's Encyclopaedia, which was published between 1805 and 1811. Its reprint in 1816 was one of the last such uses in America. And the statutes of the United Kingdom's colony Nova Scotia also used the long s as late as 1816. Some examples of the use of the long and short s among specific well-known typefaces and publications in the UK include the following:

  • The Caslon typeface 1732 has the long s.[10]
  • The Caslon typeface 1796 has the short s only.[10]
  • In the UK, The Times of London made the switch from the long to the short s with its issue of 10 September 1803.
  • The Catherwood typeface 1810 has the short s only.[10]
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica's 5th edition, completed in 1817, was the last edition to use the long s.[11] The 1823 6th edition uses the modern s.
  • The Caslon typeface 1841 has the short s only.[10]
  • Two typefaces from Stephenson Blake, both 1838–1841, have the short s only.[10]

Early editions of Scottish poet Robert Burns that have lost their title page can be dated by their use of the long s; that is, Dr. James Currie's edition of the Works of Robert Burns (Liverpool, 1800 and many reprintings) does not use the long s, while editions from the 1780s and early 1790s do. In printing, instances of the long s continue in rare and sometimes notable cases in the U.K. until the end of the 19th century, possibly as part of a consciously antiquarian revival of old-fashioned type. For example,

Eventual abandonment of the long s in handwriting[edit]

After its decline and disappearance in printing in the early years of the 19th century, the long s persisted into the second half of the century in manuscript. In handwriting used for correspondence and diaries, its use for a single s seems to have disappeared first: most manuscript examples from the 19th century use it for the first in a double s. For example,

  • Charlotte Brontë used the long s, as the first in a double s, in some of her letters, e.g., Miſs Austen in a letter to G. H. Lewes, 12 January 1848; in other letters, however, she uses the short s, for example in an 1849 letter to Patrick Brontë, her father.[16] Her husband Arthur Bell Nicholls used the long s in writing to Ellen Nussey of Brontë's death.[17]
  • Edward Lear regularly used the long s in his diaries in the second half of the 19th century; for example, his 1884 diary has an instance in which the first s in a double s is long: Addreſsed.[18]
  • Wilkie Collins routinely used the long s for the first in a double s in his manuscript correspondence; for example, he used the long s in the words mss (for manuscripts) and needless in a 1 June 1886 letter to Daniel S. Ford.[19]

For these as well as others, the handwritten long s may have suggested type and a certain formality as well as the traditional. Margaret Mathewson “published” her Sketch of 8 Months a Patient in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, A.D. 1877 of her experiences as a patient of Joseph Lister in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh by writing copies out in manuscript.[20] In place of the first s in a double s Mathewson recreated the long s in these copies, a practice widely used for both personal and business correspondence by her family, who lived on the remote island of Yell, Shetland. The practice of using the long s in handwriting on Yell, as elsewhere, may have been a carryover from 18th-century printing conventions, but it was not unfamiliar as a convention in handwriting.

Modern usage[edit]

Long s in Berlin, 2002

In Unicode:

Character ſ
Encodings decimal hex
Unicode 383 U+017F
UTF-8 197 191 C5 BF
Numeric character reference ſ ſ

The long s survives in elongated form, with an italic-styled curled descender, as the integral symbol used in calculus; Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz based the character on the Latin summa "sum", which he wrote ſumma. This use first appeared publicly in his paper De Geometria, published in Acta Eruditorum of June 1686,[21] but he had been using it in private manuscripts at least since 1675.[22] The following represents the integral of a function of x over the interval [a,b]:

\int\limits_a^b f(x)\;\mathrm{d}x

In linguistics, a similar character (ʃ, called "esh"), is used in the International Phonetic Alphabet, in which it represents the voiceless postalveolar fricative, the first sound in the English word shun.

In Scandinavian and German-speaking countries, relics of the long s continue to be seen in signs and logos that use various forms of fraktur typefaces. Examples include the logos of the Norwegian newspapers Aftenpoſten and Adresſeaviſen; the packaging logo for Finnish Siſu pastilles; and the Jägermeiſter logo.

The long s exists in some current OpenType digital fonts that are historic revivals, like Caslon, Garamond, and Bodoni.[23]

Shilling mark[edit]

Another survival of the long s was the abbreviation used in British English for shilling, as in "5∕–", where the shilling mark "∕" stood in for the long s, which had been long forgotten by all but antiquarians.[24]


The similarity between the printed long s (ſ) and f and modern-day unfamiliarity with the former letter-form has been the subject of much humour based on the intentional misreading of s as f, e.g. pronouncing Greensleeves as Greenfleeves and song as fong in a Flanders and Swann monologue[25] or mispronouncing "pursuit of happiness" as "purfuit of happinefs", as the character of Benjamin Franklin did in Stan Freberg's skit, "The Declaration of Independence, or, A Man Can't Be Too Careful What He Signs These Days" from Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America, Volume One.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Davies, Lyn (2006), A is for Ox, London: Folio Society .
  2. ^ Look at this map from 1800. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f3/LowsUSAmap_1.jpeg
  3. ^ Bollwage, Max (1999), "Ist das Eszett ein lateinischer Gastarbeiter?", Gutenberg-Jahrbuch [Gutenberg yearbook] (in German), Mainz, DE, pp. 35–41, ISBN 3-7755-1999-8 . Cited and discussed in Stötzner, Uta (2006), "Die Geschichte des versalen Eszetts", Signa (in German) (DE: Grimma) 9: 21–22, ISBN 3-933629-17-9 .
  4. ^ Proposal to encode Latin letters used in the Former Soviet Union (in Unicode) (PDF), DK: DK UUG .
  5. ^ Frings, Andreas (2007), Sowjetische Schriftpolitik zwischen 1917 und 1941 – eine handlungstheoretische Analyse [Soviet scripts politics between 1917 and 1941 — an action‐theoretical analysis] (in German), Stuttgart, DE, ISBN 978-3-515-08887-9 .
  6. ^ Attar, Karen. “S and Long S.” Oxford Companion to the Book (2010), ads., Michael Felix Suarez and H. R. Woudhuysen, II: 1116.
  7. ^ “Bell, John.” Oxford Companion to the Book (2010), eds., Michael Felix Suarez and H. R. Woudhuysen I:516.
  8. ^ Caleb Stower, The Printer's Grammar (1808), p. 53.
  9. ^ Attar, Karen. “S and Long S.” Oxford Companion to the Book (2010), eds., Michael Felix Suarez and H. R. Woudhuysen, II: 1116. For fuller information, Attar cites P. W. Nash, "The Abandonment of the Long s in Britain in 1800," Journal of the Printing Historical Society, ns 3 (2001): 3–19.
  10. ^ a b c d e Philip Gaskell, New Introduction to Bibliography, Clarendon, 1972, p. 210, Figs 74, 75.
  11. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica (5th ed.), 1817 .
  12. ^ Wells, John Edwin (1970), A Manual of the Writings in Middle English 1050–1500, Modern Language Association of America, p. 548 .
  13. ^ Daniel Hack, The Material Interests of the Victorian Novel. Victorian Literature and Culture series. University of Virginia Press, 2005. 12. Figure 1 prints a facsimile of a sample page.
  14. ^ J. A. Sutherland. “Henry Esmond: The Virtues of Carelessness.” In Thackeray at Work. Bloomsbury Academic Collections: English Literary Criticism: 18th–19th Centuries. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013: 56–73. Rpt.
  15. ^ Coleridge, Mary. Fancy’s Following. Oxford: Daniel Press, 1896.
  16. ^ Smith, Margaret, ed. (2000), The Letters of Charlotte Brontë: With a Selection of Letters by Family and Friends, Two (1848–1851), Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. between 406 and 407 .
  17. ^ Smith, Margaret, ed. (2004), The Letters of Charlotte Brontë: With a Selection of Letters by Family and Friends, Three (1852–1855), Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. opposite 217 .
  18. ^ Edward Lear, Edward Lear Diaries, 1858–1888. MS Eng 797.3 (27). Houghton Library, Harvard. http://oasis.lib.harvard.edu//oasis/deliver/deepLink?_collection=oasis&uniqueId=hou01884.
  19. ^ Collins, Wilkie. “To Daniel S. Ford.” The Wilkie Collins Pages: Wilkie’s Letters. Paul Lewis, ed. http://www.paullewis.co.uk/wilkie/Letters/18860601Ford.htm.
  20. ^ The still-unpublished MS of this Sketch is held by the Shetland Museum and Archives.
  21. ^ Stillwell, John (1989), Mathematics and its History, Springer, p. 110 .
  22. ^ Child, JM (1920), Early Mathematical Manuscripts of Leibniz, Open Court, pp. 73–74, 80 .
  23. ^ Strizver, Ilene (2014), Type Rules: The Designer's Guide to Professional Typography (4th ed.), Wiley, p. 34 .
  24. ^ Fowler, Francis George. "long+s"+shilling The concise Oxford dictionary of current English. p. 829. 
  25. ^ "The Greensleeves Monologue Annotated". Beach media. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_s — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
1000000 videos foundNext > 

Quirks of Old Documents: Spelling, Tildes, Ampersands, and the Long S

Produced for the Shaping the Constitution Web portal at the Library of Virginia's Digital Collections Web site, Virginiamemory.com: Maria Kimberly, education...

Justin Bieber - As Long As You Love Me ft. Big Sean

Music video by Justin Bieber performing As Long As You Love Me. © 2012 The Island Def Jam Music Group.

The Long "S" Exploring The 18th Century Episode 7

In this episode of Exploring The 18th Century, we respond to a viewers question about the18th Century long "S" character. For information on ligatures and th...

2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S Video Brochure (Long Form)

Introducing the all-new 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S from Mercedes-Benz. Born on the racetrack, yet built for the open road, the GT S is the result of brilliant engineering and flawless design. Feast...

2014 S-Class Video Brochure (Long Form)

Meet the new standard for automotive luxury: the sixth generation S-Class. Recognized the world over as the standard by which all other luxury sedans are mea...

[MMD PV] It´s Been So Long FNAM 2

al fin! este PV esta terminado! despues de esperar un stage de FNAF 2! bueno como saben si ponen este video en su canal considerense muertos para mi en fin d...

The Living Tombstone - Five Nights at Freddy's 2 Song - It's Been So Long (FNAF2)

The Living Tombstone - Five Nights at Freddy's 2 - It's Been So Long (FNAF2) VVVVV BUY THE SONG HERE AND CHECK THE DESCRIPTION FOR CREDITS VVVVV iTunes: http...

2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Coupe Video Brochure (Long Form)

A rare glimpse into the world of luxury super coupes, this brochure introduces you to the benchmark of its category: the S-Class Coupe. Enjoy the breathtakin...

COMBAT! s.3 ep.13: "The Long Walk" (1964)


Karoline - As Long s You Love Me - X Factor Denmark 2013 | DK Live Show 6

http://www.pranktogo.blogspot.in/2014/03/yoga-pants-prank.html http://www.pranktogo.blogspot.in/2014/03/yoga-pants-prank.html http://www.pranktogo.blogspot.i...

1000000 videos foundNext > 

2728 news items

Financial Times

Financial Times
Fri, 16 Jan 2015 09:00:06 -0800

As the British sculptor wins the second Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon, how do art prizes benefit galleries and sponsors? 'Grey Slate Spiral' (1981) by land artist Richard Long ©Richard Long/Lisson Gallery. 'Grey Slate Spiral' (1981) by land artist ...

Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal
Mon, 19 Jan 2015 07:17:58 -0800

A White House tax plan released over the weekend promises to rekindle a long-simmering debate over how to use the tax code to close income gaps between the wealthy and the middle class. At a minimum, the plan represents President Barack Obama 's ...

Arkansas Online

Arkansas Online
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 01:00:00 -0800

Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long was a unanimous selection by his peers on the College Football Playoff selection committee to serve as chairman for a second consecutive year, CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock announced Monday. Click here to ...
CBS News
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 02:30:00 -0800

"For most consumers, as long s you pay relatively close attention to your balance, you can go without overdraft protection," Breyault said. "Bouncing a check is something no one wants to do." New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said he'll ...


Fri, 16 Jan 2015 17:20:33 -0800

The Grateful Dead will live again, one last time, in a trio of farewell concerts this summer in Chicago. After that, the Dead will say farewell forever. At least, that's what they're saying now. The surviving members of the band — percussionist Mickey ...

Daily Echo

Daily Echo
Mon, 26 Jan 2015 21:03:45 -0800

IT'S not just Shane's Long effort and endeavour on the pitch that has got fans talking. His impressively inked chest has caught the eye after the Saints star tweeted a picture of his bare-chested self from his hospital bed. It was posted after the ...

Indian Autos Blog (blog)

Indian Autos Blog (blog)
Wed, 28 Jan 2015 21:48:45 -0800

The 4.3 meter long S-Cross will debut Maruti's entry in the crossover/compact SUV space. The SX4 S-Cross will be the first crossover from the brand, and will be priced to rival the Renault Duster and the Nissan Terrano mainly. Already on sale in ...


Wed, 14 Jan 2015 14:07:30 -0800

The Premier League high flyers were last month embarrassed in the Capital Cup quarter-finals by third-tier Sheffield United, but they did not slip up against the Championship promotion chasers as Shane Long's first-half strike saw them through 1-0 victors.

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!

Searchlight Group

Digplanet also receives support from Searchlight Group. Visit Searchlight