E or e is the fifth letter and the second vowel letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its name in English is e, plural ees. It is the most commonly used letter in many languages, including Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Latin, Latvian, Norwegian, Spanish, and Swedish.
The Latin letter E differs little from its source, the Greek letter epsilon, Ε. This in turn comes from the Semitic letter hê, which has been suggested to have started as a praying or calling human figure hillul jubilation, and was most likely based on a similar Egyptian hieroglyph that indicated a different pronunciation. In Semitic, the letter represented /h/ and /e/ in foreign words; in Greek, hê became the letter epsilon, used to represent /e/. The various forms of the Old Italic script and the Latin alphabet followed this usage.
2. Use in writing systems
Although Middle English spelling used ⟨e⟩ to represent long and short /e, the Great Vowel Shift changed long /eː/ as in me or bee to /iː/ while short /ɛ/ as in met or bed remained a mid vowel. In other cases, the letter is silent, generally at the end of words.
In the orthography of many languages it represents either, or some variation such as a nasalized version of these sounds, often with diacritics as: ⟨e ê e ē ĕ e ẽ e ẻ⟩ to indicate contrasts. Less commonly, as in French, German, or Saanich, ⟨e⟩ represents a mid-central vowel /ə/. Digraphs with ⟨e⟩ are common to indicate either diphthongs or monophthongs, such as ⟨ea⟩ or ⟨ee⟩ for /iː/ or /eɪ/ in English, ⟨ei⟩ for /aɪ/ in German, and ⟨eu⟩ for /o/ in French or /ɔɪ/ in German.
The International Phonetic Alphabet uses ⟨ e ⟩ for the close-mid front unrounded vowel or the mid front unrounded vowel.
3. Most common letter
E is the most common or highest-frequency letter in the English language alphabet starting off the typographers phrase ETAOIN SHRDLU and several other European languages, which has implications in both cryptography and data compression. In the story "The Gold-Bug" by Edgar Allan Poe, a character figures out a random character code by remembering that the most used letter in English is E. This makes it a hard and popular letter to use when writing lipograms. Ernest Vincent Wrights Gadsby 1939 is considered a "dreadful" novel, and supposedly "at least part of Wrights narrative issues were caused by language limitations imposed by the lack of E." Both Georges Perecs novel A Void La Disparition 1969 and its English translation by Gilbert Adair omit e and are considered better works.
4.1. Related characters Descendants and related characters in the Latin alphabet
- ⱸ: E with notch is used in the Swedish Dialect Alphabet
- The umlaut diacritic ¨ used above a vowel letter in German and other languages to indicate a fronted or front vowel this sign originated as a superscript e
- ɞ: Latin small letter closed reversed open e, which represents an open-mid central rounded vowel in IPA shown as ʚ on the 1993 IPA chart
- E with diacritics: ĕ ḝ ȇ ê Ê̄ ê̄ Ê̌ ê̌ ề ế ể ễ e ẻ ḙ e ɇ e É é Ẽ ẽ e E̩ e̩ ȅ e E̩ e̩ ē ḕ ḗ ẽ ḛ e É é Ẽ ẽ ȩ E̩ e̩ ᶒ
- Ɛ ɛ: Latin letter epsilon / open e, which represents an open-mid front unrounded vowel in the IPA
- ɘ: Latin letter reversed e, which represents a close-mid central unrounded vowel in the IPA
- ᶔ: Reversed epsilon / open e with retroflex hook
- ɝ: Latin small letter reversed epsilon / open e with hook, which represents a rhotacized open-mid central vowel in the IPA
- Æ æ: Latin AE ligature
- Phonetic alphabet symbols related to E the International Phonetic Alphabet only uses lowercase, but uppercase forms are used in some other writing systems
- ᶓ: Epsilon / open e with retroflex hook
- Ǝ ǝ: Latin letter turned e, which is used in the writing systems of some African languages
- ᶟ: Modifier letter small reversed epsilon / open e
- Ə ə: Latin letter schwa, which represents a mid central vowel in the IPA
- Oe oe: Latin OE ligature
- Ɜ ɜ: Latin letter reversed epsilon / open e, which represents an open-mid central unrounded vowel in the IPA
- U+1D31 ᴱ MODIFIER LETTER CAPITAL E
- U+2C7B ⱻ LATIN LETTER SMALL CAPITAL TURNED E
- U+1D32 ᴲ MODIFIER LETTER CAPITAL REVERSED E
- U+1D4C ᵌ MODIFIER LETTER SMALL TURNED OPEN E
- The Uralic Phonetic Alphabet uses various forms of e and epsilon / open e
- U+1D4B ᵋ MODIFIER LETTER SMALL OPEN E
- U+1D08 ᴈ LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED OPEN E
- U+1D49 ᵉ MODIFIER LETTER SMALL E
- U+1D07 ᴇ LATIN LETTER SMALL CAPITAL E
- ₑ: Subscript small e is used in Indo-European studies
- Teuthonista phonetic transcription system symbols related to E
- U+AB32 ꬲ LATIN SMALL LETTER BLACKLETTER E
- U+AB34 ꬴ LATIN SMALL LETTER E WITH FLOURISH
- U+AB33 ꬳ LATIN SMALL LETTER BARRED E
4.2. Related characters Ancestors and siblings in other alphabets
- Є є: Ukrainian Ye
- ᛖ: Runic letter Ehwaz, which is possibly a descendant of Old Italic E
- Ε ε: Greek letter Epsilon, from which the following symbols originally derive
- : Old Italic E, which is the ancestor of modern Latin E
- Ⲉ ⲉ: Coptic letter Ei
- Э э: Cyrillic letter E
- : Semitic letter He letter, from which the following symbols originally derive
- Е е: Cyrillic letter Ye
- : Gothic letter eyz
4.3. Related characters Derived signs, symbols and abbreviations
- €: Euro sign.
- e: the symbol for the elementary charge the electric charge carried by a single proton
- ∃: existential quantifier in predicate logic.
- ℮: Estimated sign used on prepackaged goods for sale within the European Union.
- ℯ: the base of the natural logarithm.
- ∈: the symbol for set membership in set theory.
- ℇ: the Euler–Mascheroni constant.
5. Other representations
In British Sign Language BSL, the letter e is signed by extending the index finger of the right hand touching the tip of index on the left hand, with all fingers of left hand open.