X x
Writing systemLatin script
TypeAlphabetic and Logographic
Language of originLatin language
Greek language
Phonetic usage

Unicode codepointU+0058, U+0078
Alphabetical position24
Time period~-700 to present
Descendants • ×

Other letters commonly used withx(x)
Writing directionLeft-to-Right

X, or x, is the twenty-fourth letter of the Latin alphabet, used in the modern English alphabet, the alphabets of other western European languages and others worldwide. Its name in English is ex (pronounced /ˈɛks/), plural exes.


Western Greek

The letter ⟨X⟩, representing /ks/, was inherited from the Etruscan alphabet. It perhaps originated in the ⟨Χ⟩ of the Euboean alphabet or another Western Greek alphabet, which also represented /ks/. Its relationship with the ⟨Χ⟩ of the Eastern Greek alphabets, which represented /kʰ/, is uncertain.

The pronunciation of /ks/ in the Romance languages underwent sound changes, with various outcomes:

In Old Spanish, ⟨x⟩ thus came to represent /ʃ/, which it still represents in most Iberian languages and in the orthographies of other languages influenced by Spanish, such as Nahuatl. In French (with a few exceptions), Italian, Romanian, and modern Spanish, ⟨x⟩ was replaced by other letters.

The use of ⟨x⟩ to represent /ks/ was reintroduced to the Romance languages via Latin loanwords. In many words this /ks/ was voiced to /gz/.

Use in writing systems

Pronunciation summary
Languages in italics are not usually written using the Latin alphabet
Language Dialect(s) Pronunciation (IPA) Environment Notes
Asturian Some central dialects /ʃ/ Before ⟨i⟩ and usually ⟨u⟩
/sj/ ~ /ʃj/
Standard and other dialects /ʃ/
Afar /ɖ/
Albanian /dz/ ⟨xh⟩ represents //
Azeri /x/
Basque /ʃ/ ⟨tx⟩ represents //
Catalan /ʃ/ Usually (word-initially, after consonants, i, au, eu, in some surnames such as Rexach)
Mandarin Chinese Standard /ɕ/ Pinyin romanization
Cou /ɨ/ ~ /ʉ/ Possibly the only case in the world of ⟨x⟩ used as a vowel.
Dutch /ks/ Usually Mainly used in loanwords
/s/ In Texel
English /ks/ Usually; before an unstressed vowel Yod-coalescence leads to /kʃ/
/gz/ Before a stressed vowel Yod-coalescence leads to /gʒ/
/z/ Word-initially
/h/ Don Quixote, Oaxaca, words derived from Classical Nahuatl/Nahuatl
Esperanto in digraphs only as a substitute for a diacritic cx, gx, hx, jx, sx, ux are used as substitutes for ĉ, ĝ, ĥ, ĵ, ŝ, ŭ where these characters are not available. See X-convention
French /ks/ Usually; in Aix- (prefix or name of several places)
/gz/ Mainly in the prefix ex- followed by a vowel; sometimes word-initially
Silent Word-finally with no liaison
/z/ Word-finally with liaison; in sixième (6th) and dixième (10th)
/s/ In six (6), dix (10), Auxerre, and Bruxelles (Brussels)
Galician /ʃ/ Usually
/(k)s/ Some words In learned loanwords
German /ks/ Mainly used in loanwords
Indonesian /s/ In the beginning of a word Mainly used in loanwords for science
/ks/ In the middle or the end of a word, although words borrowed with the letter x in the middle or the end of a word are always replaced by the letters 'ks'. For example, the word 'maximum' and 'climax' in Indonesian would be 'maksimal' and 'klimaks'. Letter x on the middle or the end of a word only occurs in names.
Italian /ks/ Mainly used in learned loanwords
Kurdish /x/
Lao /ɕ/ Romanization
Leonese /ʃ/
Ligurian /ʒ/
Maltese /ʃ/
Mayan /ʃ/ Modern Romanization
Nahuatl /ʃ/
Nguni /ǁ/
Norwegian /ks/ Archaic
Occitan /t͡s/ Usually
/s/ Before consonants
/ɡz/ In the prefix ex- before vowels In the Provençal, Limousin, Auvergnat, Vivaro-Alpine, and Niçard dialects
/ɡʒ/ Before ⟨i⟩ and ⟨u⟩ In the Auvergnat dialect
Oromo //
Pirahã /ʔ/
Polish /ks ~ gz/
Portuguese /ʃ/ Usually, especially word-initially; in words derived from Tupi
/ks/ Some words Mainly in learned loanwords
/s/ When preceded by ⟨e⟩ and a consonant; some words
/z/ In the prefix ex- ("ex-") before a vowel
/gz/ In the prefix hexa- ("hexa-")
Sardinian /ʒ/
Sicilian /ʃ/ Old Sicilian words and names E.g. Craxi, Joppolo Giancaxio
/k(ə)s(ə)/ Loanwords
Somali /ħ/
Spanish /(k)s/ Usually
/s/ Word-initially
/ʃ/ In some names and words
Swedish /ks/
Uzbek /χ/
Venetian /z/ Usually
/s/ In Venexia "Venice"
Vietnamese /s/


In English orthography, ⟨x⟩ is typically pronounced as the voiceless consonant cluster /ks/ when it follows the stressed vowel (e.g. ox), and the voiced consonant /ɡz/ when it precedes the stressed vowel (e.g. exam). It is also pronounced /ɡz/ when it precedes a silent ⟨h⟩ and a stressed vowel (e.g. exhaust).

Due to yod-coalescence, the sequence ⟨xi⟩ before a vowel can be pronounced /kʃ/ resulting from earlier /ksj/, e.g. in -xion(-), -xious(-). Similarly, the sequence ⟨xu⟩ can be pronounced with /kʃ/ (e.g. flexure, sexual) or /ɡʒ/ (in luxury and its derivatives)

Due to NG-coalescence, the sequence ⟨nx⟩ can be pronounced /ŋz/ in anxiety.

When ⟨x⟩ ends a word, it is always /ks/ (e.g. fax), except in loan words such as faux (see French, below).

There are very few English words that start with ⟨x⟩ (the fewest of any letter). When ⟨x⟩ does start a word, it is usually pronounced 'z' (e.g. xylophone, xanthan). When starting in some names or as its own representation it is pronounced 'eks', in rare recent loanwords or foreign proper names, it can also be pronounced /s/ (e.g. the obsolete Vietnamese monetary unit xu) or /ʃ/ (e.g. Chinese names starting with Xi like Xiaomi or Xinjiang). Many of the words that start with ⟨x⟩ are of Greek origin, or standardized trademarks (Xerox) or acronyms (XC).

In abbreviations, it can represent "trans-" (e.g. XMIT for transmit, XFER for transfer), "cross-" (e.g. X-ing for crossing, XREF for cross-reference), "Christ-" (e.g. Xmas for Christmas, Xian for Christian), the "crys-" in crystal (XTAL), "by" (SXSW for South by Southwest) or various words starting with "ex-" (e.g. XL for extra large, XOR for exclusive-or, or the extinction symbol).

X is the third least frequently used letter in English (after ⟨q⟩ and ⟨z⟩), with a frequency of about 0.15% in words.

Other languages

In Latin, ⟨x⟩ stood for . In some languages, as a result of assorted phonetic changes, handwriting adaptations or simply spelling convention, ⟨x⟩ has other pronunciations:

Additionally, in languages for which the Latin alphabet has been adapted only recently, ⟨x⟩ has been used for various sounds, in some cases inspired by European usage, but in others, for consonants uncommon in Europe. For these no Latin letter stands out as an obvious choice, and since most of the various European pronunciations of ⟨x⟩ can be written by other means, the letter becomes available for more unusual sounds.

Other systems

In the International Phonetic Alphabet, ⟨x⟩ represents a voiceless velar fricative.

Other uses

Related characters

Descendants and related characters in the Latin alphabet

Ancestors and siblings in other alphabets

Other representations


Character information
Preview X x
Encodings decimal hex dec hex dec hex dec hex
Unicode 88 U+0058 120 U+0078 65336 U+FF38 65368 U+FF58
UTF-8 88 58 120 78 239 188 184 EF BC B8 239 189 152 EF BD 98
Numeric character reference X X x x X X x x
EBCDIC family 231 E7 167 A7
ASCII 1 88 58 120 78
1 Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.


NATO phonetic Morse code
  ▄▄▄ ▄ ▄ ▄▄▄ 

Signal flag Flag semaphore American manual alphabet (ASL fingerspelling) British manual alphabet (BSL fingerspelling) Braille dots-1346
Unified English Braille

See also


  1. ^ as in the English word luxurious
  2. ^ a b "X", Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993); "ex", op. cit.
  3. ^ Venezky, Richard (1 January 1970). The Structure of English Orthography. The Hague: Walter de Gruyter. p. 40. ISBN 978-3-11-080447-8. Archived from the original on 27 April 2017. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  4. ^ Mička, Pavel. "Letter frequency (English)". Algoritmy.net. Archived from the original on 4 March 2021. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  5. ^ "Dizionario di ortografia e pronunzia" . Dizionario di ortografia e pronunzia (in Italian). Archived from the original on 16 April 2018. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  6. ^ Gordon, Arthur E. (1983). Illustrated Introduction to Latin Epigraphy. University of California Press. p. 44. ISBN 9780520038981. Retrieved 3 October 2015. roman numerals.
  7. ^ King, David A. (2001). The Ciphers of the Monks. Franz Steiner Verlag. p. 282. ISBN 9783515076401. Archived from the original on 2021-01-04. Retrieved 2020-11-22. In the course of time, I, V and X became identical with three letters of the alphabet; originally, however, they bore no relation to these letters.
  8. ^ Cajori, Florian (1928). A History of Mathematical Notations. Chicago: Open Court Publishing. p. 381. ISBN 9780486161167. Archived from the original on 2021-04-13. Retrieved 2020-11-22. See History of algebra.
  9. ^ Holme, Ingrid (2008). "Hearing People's Own Stories". Science as Culture. 17 (3): 341–344. doi:10.1080/09505430802280784. S2CID 143528047.
  10. ^ "New Zealand Passports - Information about Changing Sex / Gender Identity". Archived from the original on 23 September 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  11. ^ "X marks the spot". Archived from the original on 4 June 2016. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  12. ^ "X: Mark of Collaboration - Issue No. 0053X - Arkitip, Inc". arkitip.com. Archived from the original on 2016-05-17. Retrieved 2016-03-22.
  13. ^ Epstein, Nadine (2020-10-07). "A whole lot of history behind 'x' and 'o', kiss and hug". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2018-04-01. Retrieved 2021-03-12.
  14. ^ "X, n." OED Online (Oxford: Oxford University Press, September 2022), §6. Accessed 11 November 2022.
  15. ^ "'찐따', 'X랄하다'...욕도 전통을 가진다?". www.goeonair.com (in Korean). Retrieved 2023-08-22.
  16. ^ 참바다 (2021-01-15). 시사칼럼 우리 시대의 상징과 은유 (in Korean). e퍼플. ISBN 979-11-6569-712-9.
  17. ^ Constable, Peter (2004-04-19). "L2/04-132 Proposal to add additional phonetic characters to the UCS" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-10-11. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  18. ^ Everson, Michael; Dicklberger, Alois; Pentzlin, Karl; Wandl-Vogt, Eveline (2011-06-02). "L2/11-202: Revised proposal to encode "Teuthonista" phonetic characters in the UCS" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-10-11. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  19. ^ Anderson, Deborah; Everson, Michael (2004-06-07). "L2/04-191: Proposal to encode six Indo-Europeanist phonetic characters in the UCS" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-10-11. Retrieved 2018-03-24.

External links