U (У у; italics: У у) is a letter of the Cyrillic script. It commonly represents the close back rounded vowel /u/, somewhat like the pronunciation of ⟨oo⟩ in "boot". The forms of the Cyrillic letter U are similar to the lowercase of the Latin letter Y (Y y; Y y), but, as with most Cyrillic letters, the upper and lowercase forms are similar in shape differing mainly in size and vertical placement.
Historically, Cyrillic U evolved as a specifically East Slavic short form of the digraph ⟨оу⟩ used in ancient Slavic texts to represent /u/. The digraph was itself a direct loan from the Greek alphabet, where the combination ⟨ου⟩ (omicron-upsilon) was also used to represent /u/.
Consequently, the form of the letter is derived from Greek upsilon ⟨Υ υ⟩, which was parallelly also taken over into the Cyrillic alphabet in another form, as Izhitsa ⟨Ѵ⟩. (The letter Izhitsa was removed from the Russian alphabet in the orthography reform of 1917/19.)
It is normally romanised as "u", but in Kazakh, it is romanised as "w".
Related letters and other similar characters
- Υ υ : Greek letter Upsilon
- U u : Latin letter U
- Y y : Latin letter Y
- Ў ў : Cyrillic letter Short U, used in Belarusian, Dungan,[note 1] Siberian Eskimo (Yuit), Uzbek
- Ӯ ӯ : Cyrillic letter U with macron, used in Tajik
- Ӱ ӱ : Cyrillic letter U with diaeresis, used in Altai (Oyrot), Khakas, Gagauz, Khanty, Mari
- Ӳ ӳ : Cyrillic letter U with double acute, used in Chuvash
- Ү ү : Cyrillic letter straight U, used in Mongolian, Kazakh, Tatar, Bashkir, Dungan and other languages
- Ұ ұ : Cyrillic letter Straight U with stroke, used in Kazakh
- ↑ However, many Dungan books are in fact set using Ӯ (with macron) instead of Ў with breve, e.g. the Dungan-Russian dictionary (1968). There is never an ambiguity, as this is the only У-with-a-diacritic in Dungan. It is used in Dungan syllables where pinyin would use -u, except in those with labial consonants (i.e. in du, ' nu, lu, gu, hu, zu, ru, etc., but not bu or mu)
- The dictionary definition of У at Wiktionary
- The dictionary definition of у at Wiktionary