Appendix:English alphabet

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Main category: English letters

The English language uses the twenty-six Latin script basic letters:

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z.



Certain classes of words are, or were formerly, written with diacritics. One such class is certain words borrowed from other languages, including the words café, façade, Führer and naïve.

Another class uses diaeresis to indicate in a pairing of identical vowels that the second vowel is to be pronounced separately from the first. In this case, the second vowel is either pronounced differently, as in reëxamine, or just pronounced separately with a slight hiatus or y sound, as in reëlect.


This list of words that may be spelled with a ligature in English encompasses words which have letters that may, in modern usage, either be rendered as two distinct letters or as a single, combined letter. This includes AE being rendered as Æ (an æsc or ash) and OE being rendered as Œ (an œthel). Note that when a c is before a ligature, it makes the sound /s/ rather than /k/ as might be expected (because c makes the sound /k/ before an a or o in English).

The use of the œ and æ is obsolescent in modern English, and has been used predominantly in British English. It is usually used to evoke archaism, or in literal quotations of historic sources.

The fl and fi ligatures, among others, are still commonly used to render modern text in fine typography. Programs such as QuarkXpress and Adobe InDesign can be configured to automatically replace the individual characters with the appropriate ligatures.


Note that some words contain an ae which may not be written æ because the etymology is not from the Greek -αι- or Latin -ae- diphthongs. These include:

  • In instances of aer (starting or within a word) when it makes the sound IPA [ɛə]/[eə] (air). Comes from the Latin āër, Greek ἀήρ.
  • When ae makes the diphthong sound IPA [eɪ](lay), or [αɪ](eye).
  • When ae is found in a foreign phrase or loan word and it is unacceptable to use the ligature in that language. For example, when in a German loan word or phrase, if the a with an umlaut (ä) is written as ae, it is incorrect to write it with the ligature.
Non-ligature form Ligature form Other forms Etymology
aeciospore æciospore combination of New Latin aecium and New Latin spora→spore (acium+spore)
aecidium æcidium (aecium) New Latin aecidium, from Greek αἰκία (aikia)
aecium æcium (aecidium) New Latin aecidium, from Greek αἰκία (aikia)
aedicule ædicule edicule (American English) Latin aediculum
Aegis Ægis Egis (American English) Latin from Greek Αἰγίς (Aigis)
Aeolian Æolian Eolian (American English) Latin Aeolis from Greek mythology Αἰολίς (Aiolis)
Aeolis Æolis Latin Aeolis, from Greek Αἰολίς (Aiolis)
aeon æon eon (American English) Late Latin aeon, from Greek αἰών (aion).
aerose Ærose Latin aerosus, from Greek αης (aes)
aerugite ærugite (aerugo) Latin aerugo, from Greek αης (aes)
aerugo ærugo (aerugite) Latin aerugo, from Greek αης (aes)
aeschynite æschynite eschynite (American English) Greek αἰσχύνω (aischuno)
aesculin æsculin esculin (American English)
aesculetin æsculetin esculetin (American English)
aesthetic æsthetic esthetic (American English) Ancient Greek αἰσθητικός (“of sense perception”), from αἰσθάνομαι (“I feel”).
aestival æstival estival (American English)
aestivation æstivation estivation (American English) Latin aestivare, from aestivus, from aestas
Aether Æther ether (American English) Latin aether, from Greek αἰθήρ (aither)
aethereal æthereal or ætherial ethereal (American English), etherial (American English - rare), aetherial (British English - rare)
Aethrioscope Æthrioscope Ethrioscope Greek αἴθριον (aithrion)
aetiology ætiology etiology (American English)
algae algæ algas (very rare)
ambilevous ambilævous From Latin ambilævus (ambi- (“both”) + lævus (“left”)), a calque of Ancient Greek ἀμφαρίστερος (ampharisteros).
anaemia anæmia anemia (AmE)
anaesthesia anæsthesia anesthesia (British English)
antennae antennæ antennas
archaeology archæology archeology (American English)
Athenaeum Athenæum Atheneum (American English)
azotaemia azotæmia azotemia (American English)
bacteraemia bacteræmia bacteremia (American English)
Caesar Cæsar Cesar (American English – rare)
caesium cæsium cesium (American English)
chaetophorous chætophorous chetophorous
curriculum vitae curriculum vitæ Latin meaning ‘course of life’, vitæ
daedal dædal dedal
daemon dæmon demon (American English) Greek: δαιμων (daimon)
Egypt Ægypt Aegypt (Archaic) From the Latinised Ægyptus
encyclopaedia encyclopædia encyclopedia (American English)
era æra aera (British English - rare) Late Latin aera, probably from Latin æs (plural æra)
et cetera et cætera et caetera, etc., &c. Latin phrase
Ethiopia Æthiopia Aethiopia
Eudaemonic eudæmonic eudemonic
faeces fæces feces (American English)
fairy færie faerie
formulae formulæ formulas
fraenum frænum Frenum
Gaea Gæa Gaia
haemoglobin hæmoglobin hemoglobin (American English)
haemolysis hæmolysis hemolysis (American English)
haemophilia hæmophilia hemophilia (American English)
haemorrhage hæmorrhage hemorrhage (American English)
haemorrhoid hæmorrhoid hemorrhoid (American English)
hyena hyæna hyaena
hypaethral hypæthral hypethral
ischaemia ischæmia ischemia (American English)
judaeo judæo judeo
judaeophobe judæophobe judeophobe (American English)
leukaemia leukæmia leukemia (American English)
medieval mediæval mediaeval (British English – rare)
nebulae nebulæ nebulas plural – New Latin → Latin ("mist"); akin to Old High German nebul ("fog") → Greek nephelē, nephos ("cloud")
nymphae nymphæ nymphs
nymphaea nymphæa
orthopaedic orthopædic orthopedic (American English)
paean pæan pean (American English)
paeon pæon
pedagogue pædagogue or pædagog pedagog (American English), (paedagogue and paedagog exist but are both somewhat archaic)
pederasty pæderasty paederasty
paediatrics pædiatrics pediatrics (American English)
paediatrician pædiatrician pediatrician (American English)
paediatrist pædiatrist pediatrist (American English)
paedophile pædophile pedophile (American English)
palaeobotany palæobotany paleobotany (American English)
palaeocene palæocene paleocene (American English)
palaeoclimatology palæoclimatology paleoclimatology (American English)
palaeography palæography palaeography (American English)
palaeolithic palæolithic paleolithic (American English)
palaeography palæography paleography (American English)
palaeontology palæontology paleontology (American English)
palaeozoic palæozoic paleozoic (American English)
Panacaea Panacæa Panacea (American English)
Pangaea Pangæa Pangea (American English)
personae personæ personas
premium præmium praemium
primeval primæval primaeval (British English - rare)
Quaestor Quæstor
Rhaetia Rhætia
septicaemia septicæmia septicemia (American English)
scarabaeid scarabæid
scarabaeoid scarabæoid
synaesthesia synæsthesia synesthesia (American English)
toxaemia toxæmia toxemia (American English)
uraemia uræmia uremia (American English)
viraemia viræmia viremia (American English)


Common form Ligature form Other forms Etymology
amenorrhoea amenorrhœa amenorrhea (American English) From Greek α (a) + μένόρροια (mēnorroia)
amoeba amœba ameba (American English—rare) New Latin amoeba, from Greek ἀμοιβή (amoibē)
apnea apnœa apnoea (British English) New Latin apnoea, from Greek απνοια (apnoia)
coeliac cœliac celiac (American English) Latin coeliacus, from Greek κοιλιακος (koiliakos)
diarrhea diarrhœa diarrhoea (British English) Middle English diaria, from Late Latin diarrhoea, from Greek διάρροια (diarroia)
ecology œcology oecology
economy œconomy oeconomy
ecumenism œcumenism oecumenism, rarely ocumenism
esophagus œsophagus oesophagus (British English)
estrogen œstrogen oestrogen (British English)
estrus œstrus oestrus
federal fœderal foederal – archaic; thus virtually never found Latin foedus
fetid fœtid foetid (British English) Latin fētidus
fetor fœtor foetor (British English) Middle English fetoure, from Latin fētor
fetus fœtus foetus (British English) Middle English fetus, from Latin fētus
gonorrhoea gonorrhœa gonorrhea (American English) Greek γονόρροια (gonorrhoia)
homeomorphism homœomorphism homoeomorphism (British English) From Greek ὅμοιος (homoios) + μορφος (morphos)
homeopath homœopath homoeopath (British English) From Greek ὅμοιος (homoios) + πάθος (pathos)
homeostasis homœostasis homoeostasis (British English) From Greek ὅμοιος (homoios) + στάσις (stasis)
homoeozoic homœozoic homeozoic (American English—rare) From Greek ὅμοιος (homoios) + ζωικός (zōikos)
hors d'oeuvre hors d'œuvre French hors d'œuvre
logorrhoea logorrhœa logorrhea (American English) From Greek
maneuver manœuvre manoeuvre (British English) French manœuvre, from Old French maneuvre, from Medieval Latin manuopera, from Latin manū operārī
Economics œconomics oeconomics
oedema œdema edema (American English)
Oedipus Œdipus Oidipus (rare), Ødipus Greek Οἰδίπους (Oidipous)
oeillade œillade
oenology œnology enology (American English) From Greek οίνος (oinos) + λόγος (logos)
oenomel œnomel
oenothera œnothera
oeuvre œuvre French œuvre, from Old French uevre, from Latin opera
onomatopoeia onomatopœia
penology pœnology
phoenix phœnix phenix (rare)
subpoena subpœna subpena (rare)
tragedy tragœdy tragoedy


  1. ^ ^ ^ The variants that change '-æ' or '­-œ' to '-s' are not variants in spelling, but the same meaning of the word with a different way of forming plurals.
  2. ^ "caesium" (see article) is preferred by the IUPAC.

Also, ligatures may be used in personal names as well, ie. Maecenus as Mæcenus, or Timothy as Timothæ, etc.

See also[edit]