- (pharmacy) Apothecary symbol for half.
- 1624, Philip Barrough [i.e., Philip Barrow], “Of Making Bolus”, in The Method of Physick, Contaning[sic] the Cavses, Signes, and Cvres of Inward Diseases in Mans Body, from the Head to the Foote. Whereunto is Added, The Forme and Rule of Making Remedies and Medicines, which Our Physitions Commonly Vse at this Day, with the Proportion, Quantity, and Names of Each Medicine, 6th edition, book VII (in English), London: Imprinted by Richard Field, dwelling in great Woodstreete, →OCLC, page 397:
- Bolvs in Engliſh is called a morſell. It is a medicine laxatiue, in forme and faſhion it is meanely whole, and it is ſwallowed by little gobbets. […] ℞ Medulla Caſſiæ fiſtulæ [n]ewly drawne, ℥. j. or ʒ. x. the graines, that is, the kernels, of Barberies, ℈. ß and with Sugar roſet [sugar compounded with rose petals], make a bole.
- Occasionally used in loanwords from German.
- You're full of scheiße!
- (obsolete, rare) A ligature representing <ss> in italic text.
- 1557, Robert Recorde, The Whetstone of Witte […], London: […] Jhon Kyngſtone, unnumbered page:
- As in nombers Abſtracte, euery nomber is not a rooted nomber, but ſome certaine only emongeſt theim, ſo in nombers Coßike, all nombers haue not rootes: but ſoche onely emongeſt ſimple Coßike nombers are rooted, whoſe nomber hath a roote, agreable to the figure of his denomination.
- 1664, John Newburgh, “[Pomona, or An Appendix Concerning Fruit-trees, in Relation to Cider, […].] Observations Concerning the Making and Preserving of Cider.”, in J[ohn] E[velyn], Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest-trees and the Propagation of Timber in His Majesties Dominions. […], London: […] Jo[hn] Martyn, and Ja[mes] Allestry, printers to the Royal Society, […], →OCLC, page 43:
- I am alſo aſſured by a Neighbour of mine, that a Brother of his, who is a great Cider Merchant in Devonſhire, is by frequent experience ſo well ſatisfied with the harmleſneſs of rotten Apples, that he makes no ſcruple of exchanging with any one that comes to his Cider-preß, a Buſhel of ſound-apples for the ſame meaſure of the other.
- 1665, R[obert] Hooke, “To The Royal Society.”, in Micrographia: Or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made by Magnifying Glasses. With Observations and Inquiries thereupon, London: Printed by Jo[hn] Martyn, and Ja[mes] Allestry, printers to the Royal Society, […], →OCLC, unnumbered page:
- After my Addreß to our Great Founder and Patron, I could not but think my ſelf oblig'd, in confideration of thoſe many Ingagements you have laid upon me, to offer theſe my poor Labours to this MOST ILLUSTRIOUS ASSEMBLY.
- 1665, Joseph Glanvill, chapter XXVII, in Scepsis Scientifica: […], London: E. Cotes, page 168:
- c. 1698, B. E., A New Dictionary of the Terms Ancient and Modern of the Canting Crew, London: W. Hawes, published 1899, unnumbered page:
- Paß, a Way, Lane, River, Leave; alſo condition. What a Sad Paß things are come to? In what an ill State they are. That Shamm won't Paß, that Trick won't take.
- “During what period of history did English use "ß", the "sharp s" ligature?”, in Stack Exchange, 2 January 2013, archived from the original on 2021-05-07
- /s/ is from West Germanic post-vocalic *t and *ss.
- A letter in the German-based alphabet of Central Franconian.
- Doubling of ß yields ss, see S.
- In the Dutch-based spelling, /s/ is always represented by s.
- (phoneme): IPA(key): /s/
- (letter name): IPA(key): /ɛsˈtsɛt/ (Eszett, usual)
- (letter name): IPA(key): /ˈʃarfəs ˈɛs/ (scharfes S, less desirable because it also refers to the sound /s/ regardless of its spelling)
In alphabetic ordering, ß is equivalent to the string ss. For example, one would order: Maske, Maß, Masse, Maße, Massen, Maßen, Mast. The letter also alternates with ss in inflections and derivatives, e.g. lassen → past tense ließ, though such cases are now fairly rare.
The current rules for the choice between ß and ss were introduced in 1996. They follow the simple principle that ss is used after short vowels and ß otherwise (i.e. after long vowels and diphthongs). Hence Masse /ˈmasə/ is distinguished from Maße /ˈmaːsə/. The earlier rules were more complicated and less phonetic. They prescribed that ß was additionally used in the syllable coda regardless of vowel length. Thus küssen, but er küßt, and Faß, but Fässer (modern spelling küsst, Fass). The older spelling has become rare, but is still used by some older language users.
In Switzerland and Liechtenstein, the letter ß is not used at all. So Straße is spelt Strasse, and the above distinction between Maße and Masse is lost in favour of the latter. This use is also often seen in Luxembourg and occasionally in South Tyrol, but ß is standard in both of these areas. Moreover one encounters the same spelling in German books printed in antiqua script until the early 20th century, because an antiqua ß did not yet exist. A rarer alternative was to replace ß with sz.
It is standard to replace ß with SS in all caps: STRASSE. However, in 2017 a new uppercase ẞ was introduced, so it is now also correct to spell STRAẞE. The use of a lowercase ß (STRAßE) is sometimes seen, but is proscribed. In capitalizing a few words which would become ambiguous if ß were changed to SS, SZ may be used instead, hence MASZE (Maße) may be kept distinct from MASSE (Masse), BUSZE (Buße) from BUSSE (Busse).