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Latin letter Ð.svg

Eth (/ɛð/, uppercase: Ð, lowercase: ð; also spelled edh or ) is a letter used in Old English, Middle English, Icelandic, Faroese (in which it is called edd), and Elfdalian. It was also used in Scandinavia during the Middle Ages, but was subsequently replaced with dh and later d. It is transliterated to d (and d- is rarely used as a mnemonic[1]). Its use has survived in Iceland and the Faroe Islands. The capital eth resembles a D with a line through the vertical stroke. The lower case resembles a reversed 6 with a line through the top. The lower-case letter has been adopted to represent a voiced dental fricative in the International Phonetic Alphabet.

The letter originated in Irish writing[2] as a d with a cross-stroke added. The lowercase version has retained the curved shape of a medieval scribe's d, which d itself in general has not.

In Icelandic, ð represents a (usually apical) voiced alveolar non-sibilant fricative [ð̠],[3][4] similar to the th in English "the", but it never appears as the first letter of a word, where þ (Thorn) is used in its place. The name of the letter is pronounced [ɛθ̠]; i.e., voiceless, unless followed by a vowel.

In Faroese, ð is not assigned to any particular phoneme and appears mostly for etymological reasons; however, it does show where most of the Faroese glides are, and when the ð is before r it is, in a few words, pronounced [ɡ]. In the Icelandic and Faroese alphabets, ð follows d.

In Olav Jakobsen Høyem's version of Nynorsk based on Trøndersk, the ð was always silent and was introduced for etymological reasons.

In Old English, ð (referred to as ðæt by the Anglo-Saxons[5]) was used interchangeably with þ (thorn) to represent either voiced or voiceless dental fricatives. The letter ð was used throughout the Anglo-Saxon era, but gradually fell out of use in Middle English, practically disappearing altogether by 1300;[6] þ survived longer, ultimately being replaced by the modern digraph th.

The ð is also used by some in written Welsh to represent the letter 'dd' (the voiced dental fricative).[7]

Lower-case eth is used as a symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), again for a voiced dental fricative, and in IPA usage, the name of the symbol is pronounced with the same voiced sound, as /ɛð/. (The IPA symbol for the voiceless dental fricative is θ.)

A handwritten ð is visible.

Computer input

System Uppercase Lowercase Notes
Compose key ("Multi Key") Compose Shift+D Shift+H Compose D H Compose is a dead key meaning it is pressed & released rather than held down
Unicode U+00D0 U+00F0 Inherited from the older ISO 8859-1 standard
Unix-like Compose key plus D and H Compose key plus d and h For ISO-8859-1- and UTF-8-based locales
Faroese keyboard Shift+Ð ð Separate key for Ð
Icelandic keyboard layout Shift+Ð ð Separate key for Ð (and Þ, Æ and Ö)
OS X Shift+ Option+D Option+D Typed by activating the US Extended or ABC Extended keyboard layout
Microsoft Windows Alt+(0208) Alt+(0240) usually requires a separate number keypad, see Alt_code

also, AltGr+d with the US International keyboard layout


  • The letter ð is sometimes used in mathematics and engineering textbooks as a symbol for a spin-weighted partial derivative. This operator gives rise to spin-weighted spherical harmonics.
  • The modern Greek letter delta (Δ, δ) has, in general, the same phonetic value, and ð is the only Latin alphabet letter faithfully representing delta's phonetic value. (In Ancient Greek, delta represented a d sound.)
  • Icelandic words cannot start with ð (sometimes used as a "play" on English such as the Icelandic band Ðe lónlí blú bojs[8] i.e. The lonely blue boys).
  • A capital eth is used as the currency symbol for Dogecoin.[9]

See also

Notes and references

  1. Character Mnemonics & Character Sets
  2. Freeborn, Dennis (1992), From Old English to Standard English, London: Macmillan, p. 24<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  3. Pétursson (1971:?), cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:145)
  4. Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), pp. 144-145.
  5. Richard Marsden, The Cambridge Old English Reader, CUP 2004, p. xxix.
  6. David Wilton (September 30, 2007). "Old English Alphabet". Word origins. Retrieved 22 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Example of Welsh text interchanging eth with dd, UK: CAM<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  8. "Ðe lónlí blú bojs »". Retrieved 20 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "". Dogecoin Integration/Staging Tree (Source code). February 5, 2014. Retrieved 17 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


External links

  • "Thorn and eth: how to get them right", Operinan, Briem<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  • "Alvdalsk ortografi", Förslag till en enhetlig stavning för älvdalska (PDF) (in Swedish), SE, March 2005CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.