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ß U+00DF, ß
Latin-1 Supplement à


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Origins of ß.

Alternative forms[edit]

  • ſs (obsolete, rare)


  • (phoneme) IPA(key): /s/
  • (letter name) IPA(key): /ɛsˈtsɛt/ (Eszett)
  • (letter name) IPA(key): /ˈʃaʁ.fəs ˈɛs/ (scharfes S, standard)
  • (letter name) IPA(key): /ˈʃaː.fəs ˈɛs/ (scharfes S, alternate pronunciation)


ß (lower case, upper case or SS)

  1. Eszett (sz), or scharfes S (ss) a German letter based on a ligature of ſ (long s) and z, now equivalent to ss.

Usage notes[edit]

In alphabetic ordering, ß is equivalent to the string ss (formerly sz), so (ate) is sorted between Aspirin (aspirin) and Ast (branch), immediately after the alphabetically equivalent Ass (ace).

The letter is never used in Swiss or Liechtenstein German, where it is replaced by ss, so Straße is written Strasse. It is also almost unique among the Latin letters as there was no uppercase form officially recognised before 2017. In all German-speaking countries, the letter usually replaced with SS (STRASSE) when writing in uppercase, but the letter is sometimes used directly, either in its original lowercase form (STRAßE) or in the relatively recently designed capital form (STRAẞE). The old rule which mandated replacing ß with SZ (STRASZE) is now considered completely obsolete.

In German orthography, ß is treated as a letter of its own right. In the orthography from 1996 it is used instead of ss after long vowels and diphthongs. Thus „Masse“ (mass) is different in meaning and pronunciation from „Maße“ (measures). In alphabetical orders, the former would come directly before the latter if otherwise they are alphabetically equivalent. Both can be rendered MASSE in capitalisation (whereby the distinction is then lost), but „Maße“ may also be spelled MAẞE or MAßE.

The above-mentioned rule for the use of ß and ss was changed in the 1996 spelling reform. Before this reform ß also occurred after short vowels at the end of a word or before a consonant. Therefore a rather large number of words that used to be spelt with ß, are now spelt with ss (for example, daß has become dass). The older spelling has become rare, but is still found in the products of a few (conservative) publishing houses.


German Sign Language[edit]


A variation of the sign for "S".


This one-handed GSL sign is produced as follows:

  • Posture the dominant hand in the “S” shape, then move it downwards.


ß (transliteration needed)

  1. the letter ß