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B or b (pronounced /biː/ BEE)[1][2] is the second letter of the Latin-script alphabet. It represents the voiced bilabial stop in many languages, including English. In some other languages, it is used to represent other bilabial consonants.

B b
(See below)
Writing systemLatin script
English alphabet
ISO basic Latin alphabet
Language of originLatin language
Phonetic usage[b]
(Adapted variations)
Unicode valueU+0042, U+0062
Alphabetical position2
Numerical value: 2
  • Bet
    • Proto-Canaanite - bet.png
      • Bet
        • Greek Beta 16.svg
          • Β β
            • 𐌁
              • B
                • Bb
                  • B b
Time periodunknown to present
Descendants • ♭
 • ␢
 • ฿
בּ ב ب ܒ
Բ բ
Variations(See below)
Other letters commonly used withbv
bh bp bm
Associated numbers2


Egyptian hieroglyphic housePhoenician bethGreek betaEtruscan BRoman BRunic B
Modern Roman
Uncial BInsular bBlackletter bAntiqua BRoman B & b

Old English was originally written in runes, whose equivalent letter was beorc ⟨ᛒ⟩, meaning "birch". Beorc dates to at least the 2nd-century Elder Futhark, which is now thought to have derived from the Old Italic alphabets' ⟨ 𐌁 ⟩ either directly or via Latin ⟨[[INLINE_IMAGE|//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/30/RomanB-01.png/12px-RomanB-01.png|//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/30/RomanB-01.png/18px-RomanB-01.png 1.5x, //upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/30/RomanB-01.png/24px-RomanB-01.png 2x|B|h12|w12]]⟩.

The uncial ⟨[[INLINE_IMAGE|//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/35/UncialB-01.png/12px-UncialB-01.png|//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/35/UncialB-01.png/18px-UncialB-01.png 1.5x, //upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/35/UncialB-01.png/24px-UncialB-01.png 2x|B|h12|w12]]⟩ and half-uncial ⟨[[INLINE_IMAGE|//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/38/Half-uncial_b.png/10px-Half-uncial_b.png|//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/38/Half-uncial_b.png/15px-Half-uncial_b.png 1.5x, //upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/38/Half-uncial_b.png/20px-Half-uncial_b.png 2x|b|h17|w10]]⟩ introduced by the Gregorian and Irish missions gradually developed into the Insular scripts' ⟨[[INLINE_IMAGE|//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7e/Insular-b.svg/10px-Insular-b.svg.png|//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7e/Insular-b.svg/15px-Insular-b.svg.png 1.5x, //upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7e/Insular-b.svg/20px-Insular-b.svg.png 2x|b|h16|w10]]⟩. These Old English Latin alphabets supplanted the earlier runes, whose use was fully banned under King Canute in the early 11th century. The Norman Conquest popularised the Carolingian half-uncial forms which latter developed into blackletter ⟨ [[INLINE_IMAGE|//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/19/Blackletter_b.png/10px-Blackletter_b.png|//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/19/Blackletter_b.png/15px-Blackletter_b.png 1.5x, //upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/19/Blackletter_b.png/20px-Blackletter_b.png 2x|b|h15|w10]] ⟩. Around 1300, letter case was increasingly distinguished, with upper- and lower-case B taking separate meanings. Following the advent of printing in the 15th century, Holy Roman Empire (Germany) and Scandinavia continued to use forms of blackletter (particularly Fraktur), while England eventually adopted the humanist and antiqua scripts developed in Renaissance Italy from a combination of Roman inscriptions and Carolingian texts. The present forms of the English cursive B were developed by the 17th century.

The Roman ⟨B⟩ derived from the Greek capital beta ⟨Β⟩ via its Etruscan and Cumaean variants. The Greek letter was an adaptation of the Phoenician letter bēt ⟨𐤁⟩.[3] The Egyptian hieroglyph for the consonant /b/ had been an image of a foot and calf ⟨ [[INLINE_IMAGE|//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/eb/Hiero_D58.png/10px-Hiero_D58.png|//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/eb/Hiero_D58.png/15px-Hiero_D58.png 1.5x, //upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/eb/Hiero_D58.png/20px-Hiero_D58.png 2x|B|h16|w10]] ⟩,[4] but bēt (Phoenician for "house") was a modified form of a Proto-Sinaitic glyph ⟨ [[INLINE_IMAGE|//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/dd/Proto-Canaanite_-bet.png/20px-Proto-Canaanite-bet.png|//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/dd/Proto-Canaanite-bet.png/30px-Proto-Canaanite-bet.png 1.5x, //upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dd/Proto-Canaanite-_bet.png 2x|Bet|h20|w20]] ⟩ probably adapted from the separate hieroglyph Pr ⟨ [[INLINE_IMAGE|//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fb/Egyptian-per2.PNG/20px-Egyptian-per2.PNG|//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fb/Egyptian-per2.PNG/30px-Egyptian-per2.PNG 1.5x, //upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/Egyptian-per2.PNG 2x|Per|h23|w20]] ⟩ meaning "house".[5][6] The Hebrew letter beth ⟨ב⟩ is a separate development of the Phoenician letter.[3]

By Byzantine times, the Greek letter ⟨Β⟩ came to be pronounced /v/,[3] so that it is known in modern Greek as víta (still written βήτα). The Cyrillic letter ve ⟨В⟩ represents the same sound, so a modified form known as be ⟨Б⟩ was developed to represent the Slavic languages' /b/.[3] (Modern Greek continues to lack a letter for the voiced bilabial plosive and transliterates such sounds from other languages using the digraph/consonant cluster ⟨μπ⟩, mp.)

Use in writing systems


In English, ⟨b⟩ denotes the voiced bilabial stop /b/, as in bib. In English, it is sometimes silent. This occurs particularly in words ending in ⟨mb⟩, such as lamb and bomb, some of which originally had a /b/ sound, while some had the letter ⟨b⟩ added by analogy (see Phonological history of English consonant clusters). The ⟨b⟩ in debt, doubt, subtle, and related words was added in the 16th century as an etymological spelling, intended to make the words more like their Latin originals (debitum, dubito, subtilis).

As /b/ is one of the sounds subject to Grimm's Law, words which have ⟨b⟩ in English and other Germanic languages may find their cognates in other Indo-European languages appearing with ⟨bh⟩, ⟨p⟩, ⟨f⟩ or ⟨φ⟩ instead.[3] For example, compare the various cognates of the word brother. It is the seventh least frequently used letter in the English language (after V, K, J, X, Q, and Z), with a frequency of about 1.5% in words.

Other languages

Many other languages besides English use ⟨b⟩ to represent a voiced bilabial stop.

In Estonian, Icelandic, and Chinese Pinyin, ⟨b⟩ does not denote a voiced consonant. Instead, it represents a voiceless /p/ that contrasts with either a geminated /p:/ (in Estonian) or an aspirated /pʰ/ (in Pinyin, Danish and Icelandic) represented by ⟨p⟩. In Fijian ⟨b⟩ represents a prenasalised /mb/, whereas in Zulu and Xhosa it represents an implosive /ɓ/, in contrast to the digraph ⟨bh⟩ which represents /b/. Finnish uses ⟨b⟩ only in loanwords.

Phonetic transcription

In the International Phonetic Alphabet, [b] is used to represent the voiced bilabial stop phone. In phonological transcription systems for specific languages, /b/ may be used to represent a lenis phoneme, not necessarily voiced, that contrasts with fortis /p/ (which may have greater aspiration, tenseness or duration).

Other uses

B is also a musical note. In English-speaking countries, it represents Si, the 12th note of a chromatic scale built on C. In Central Europe and Scandinavia, "B" is used to denote B-flat and the 12th note of the chromatic scale is denoted "H". Archaic forms of 'b', the b quadratum (square b, ♮) and b rotundum (round b, ♭) are used in musical notation as the symbols for natural and flat, respectively.

In Contracted (grade 2) English braille, 'b' stands for "but" when in isolation.

In computer science, B is the symbol for byte, a unit of information storage.

In engineering, B is the symbol for bel, a unit of level.

In chemistry, B is the symbol for boron, a chemical element.

The blood-type B emoji (🅱️) was added in Unicode 6.0 in 2010, and became a popular internet meme in 2018 where letters would be replaced with the emoji.[7]

Ancestors, descendants and siblings

  • 𐤁 : Semitic letter Bet, from which the following symbols originally derive

  • Β β : Greek letter Beta, from which B derives

  • Ⲃ ⲃ Coptic letter Bēta, which derives from Greek Beta

  • В в : Cyrillic letter Ve, which also derives from Beta

  • Б б : Cyrillic letter Be, which also derives from Beta

  • 𐌁 : Old Italic B, which derives from Greek Beta

  • ᛒ : Runic letter Berkanan, which probably derives from Old Italic B

  • 𐌱 : Gothic letter bercna, which derives from Greek Beta

  • IPA-specific symbols related to B: ɓ ʙ β

  • B with diacritics: Ƀ ƀ Ḃ ḃ Ḅ ḅ Ḇ ḇ Ɓ ɓ ᵬ[8][9]

  • Ꞗ ꞗ : B with flourish

  • ᴃ ᴯ ᴮ ᵇ : Barred B and various modifier letters are used in the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet.[10]

  • Ƃ ƃ : B with topbar

Derived ligatures, abbreviations, signs and symbols

  • ␢ : U+2422 ␢ BLANK SYMBOL

  • ฿ : Thai baht

  • ₿ : Bitcoin

  • ♭: The flat in music, mentioned above, still closely resembles lowercase b.

Computing codes

Numeric character referenceBBbb
EBCDIC family194C213082
1Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.

Other representations


Citation Linkopenlibrary.org"B", Oxford English Dictionary,2nd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989
Sep 29, 2019, 10:14 PM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.org"B", Merriam-Webster's 3rd New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged, 1993
Sep 29, 2019, 10:14 PM
Citation Linken.wikisource.orgBaynes, T.S., ed. (1878), "B" , Encyclopædia Britannica, 3 (9th ed.), New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, p. 173
Sep 29, 2019, 10:14 PM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgSchumann-Antelme, Ruth; Rossini, Stéphane (1998), Illustrated Hieroglyphics Handbook, English translation by Sterling Publishing (2002), pp. 22–23, ISBN 1-4027-0025-3
Sep 29, 2019, 10:14 PM
Citation Linkportal.issn.orgGoldwasser, Orly (March–April 2010), "How the Alphabet Was Born from Hieroglyphs", Biblical Archaeology Review, Vol. 36, Washington: Biblical Archaeology Society, ISSN 0098-9444
Sep 29, 2019, 10:14 PM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgIt also resembles the hieroglyph for /h/ ⟨  ⟩ meaning "manor" or "reed shelter".
Sep 29, 2019, 10:14 PM
Citation Linkknowyourmeme.com"B Button Emoji 🅱". Know Your Meme. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
Sep 29, 2019, 10:14 PM
Citation Linkwww.unicode.orgConstable, Peter (30 September 2003). "L2/03-174R2: Proposal to Encode Phonetic Symbols with Middle Tilde in the UCS" (PDF).
Sep 29, 2019, 10:14 PM
Citation Linkwww.unicode.orgConstable, Peter (19 April 2004). "L2/04-132 Proposal to add additional phonetic characters to the UCS" (PDF).
Sep 29, 2019, 10:14 PM
Citation Linkwww.unicode.orgEverson, Michael; et al. (20 March 2002). "L2/02-141: Uralic Phonetic Alphabet characters for the UCS" (PDF).
Sep 29, 2019, 10:14 PM
Citation Linken.wikisource.org"B"
Sep 29, 2019, 10:14 PM
Citation Linken.wikisource.org"B"
Sep 29, 2019, 10:14 PM
Citation Linkmembers.bib-arch.org"How the Alphabet Was Born from Hieroglyphs"
Sep 29, 2019, 10:14 PM
Citation Linkwww.worldcat.org0098-9444
Sep 29, 2019, 10:14 PM
Citation Linkknowyourmeme.com"B Button Emoji 🅱"
Sep 29, 2019, 10:14 PM
Citation Linkwww.unicode.org"L2/03-174R2: Proposal to Encode Phonetic Symbols with Middle Tilde in the UCS"
Sep 29, 2019, 10:14 PM
Citation Linkwww.unicode.org"L2/04-132 Proposal to add additional phonetic characters to the UCS"
Sep 29, 2019, 10:14 PM
Citation Linkwww.unicode.org"L2/02-141: Uralic Phonetic Alphabet characters for the UCS"
Sep 29, 2019, 10:14 PM
Citation Linken.wikisource.org"B"
Sep 29, 2019, 10:14 PM
Citation Linken.wikipedia.orgThe original version of this page is from Wikipedia, you can edit the page right here on Everipedia.Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.Additional terms may apply.See everipedia.org/everipedia-termsfor further details.Images/media credited individually (click the icon for details).
Sep 29, 2019, 10:14 PM