M (named em //) is the 13th letter of the ISO basic Latin alphabet.
The letter M is derived from the Phoenician Mem, via the Greek Mu (Μ, μ). Semitic Mem probably originally pictured water. It is thought that Semitic people working in Egypt c. 2000 BC borrowed a hieroglyph for "water" that was first used for an alveolar nasal (/n/), because of the Egyptian word for water, n-t. This same symbol became used for /m/ in Semitic, because the word for water began with that sound.
The letter 'm' represents the bilabial consonant sound, [m], in the orthography of Latin, as well as in many modern languages. In English, the Oxford English Dictionary (first edition) says that 'm' is sometimes a vowel in words like spasm and in the suffix -ism. In modern terminology, this would be described as a syllabic consonant — IPA [m̩].
Related letters and other similar characters
||LATIN CAPITAL LETTER M
|| LATIN SMALL LETTER M
|Numeric character reference
- 1 Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.
- ^ "M" Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993); "em," op. cit.
- Media related to M at Wikimedia Commons
- The dictionary definition of M at Wiktionary
- The dictionary definition of m at Wiktionary
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