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Ze (Cyrillic)

  (Redirected from З)

History and shapeEdit

Most Russian typewriters like this one had no key for the digit 3, so Ze was to be used instead.

Ze is derived from the Greek letter Zeta (Ζ ζ).

In the Early Cyrillic alphabet its name was землꙗ (zemlja), meaning "earth". The shape of the letter originally looked similar to a Greek or Latin letter Z with a tail on the bottom (). Though a majuscule form of this variant () is encoded in Unicode, historically it was only used as caseless or lowercase.[1]

In the Cyrillic numeral system, Zemlja had a value of 7.

Medieval Cyrillic manuscripts and Church Slavonic printed books have two variant forms of the letter Zemlja: з and . Only the form was used in the oldest ustav (uncial) writing style; з appeared in the later poluustav (half-uncial) manuscripts and typescripts, where the two variants are found at proportions of about 1:1.[1] Some early grammars tried to give a phonetic distinction to these forms (like palatalized vs. nonpalatalized sound), but the system had no further development. Ukrainian scribes and typographers began to regularly use З/з in an initial position, and otherwise (a system in use till the end of the 19th century). Russian scribes and typographers largely abandoned the widespread use of the variant in favor of з in the wake of Patriarch Nikon's reforms.[1] They still used the older form mostly in the case of two З's in row: ЗꙀ (the system in use till the mid-18th century).

The civil (Petrine) script knows only one shape of the letter: З/з. However, shapes similar to Z/z can be used in certain stylish typefaces.

In calligraphy and in general handwritten text, lowercase з can be written either fully over the baseline (similar to the printed form) or with the lower half under the baseline and with the loop (for the Russian language, a standard shape since the middle of the 20th century).

Phonetic valueEdit

The letter Ze may represent:

  • /z/, the voiced alveolar sibilant (Macedonian, Bulgarian, Bosnian, Serbian, Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian);
  • /zʲ/, if followed by ⟨ь⟩ or any of the palatalizing vowels, as in Russian зеркало [ˈzʲer.kə.ɫə] (“mirror”);
  • /s/, the voiceless alveolar sibilant (in final position or before voiceless consonants);
  • /sʲ/, if followed by ⟨ь⟩ in final position or before voiceless consonants;
  • /ʒ/ or /z̠/, (Iron dialect of Ossetian, but /z/ in Digoron and Kudairag);
  • clusters ⟨зж⟩ and ⟨зш⟩ are pronounced in Russian as if they were ⟨жж⟩ and ⟨шш⟩, respectively (even if ⟨з⟩ is the last letter of a preposition, like in Russian без жены “without wife” or из школы “from school”);
  • cluster ⟨зч⟩ (sometimes also ⟨здч⟩) is pronounced in Russian as if it was ⟨щ⟩ (рассказчик “narrator”, звёздчатый “stellar, star-shaped”, без чая “without tea”);
  • cluster ⟨дз⟩ can be pronounced (mostly in Ukrainian and Belarusian) as the voiced alveolar affricate /dz/ (Ukrainian дзеркало “mirror”) or its palatalized form /dzʲ/ (Belarusian гадзіннік “clock”), but if ⟨д⟩ and ⟨з⟩ belong to different morphemes, then they are pronounced separately. In the standard Iron dialect of Ossetian, this cluster simply stands for /z/; other dialects treat it as the affricate /d͡z/.

З-shaped Latin lettersEdit


A letter that looks like Cyrillic Ze (actually, a stylization of digit 3) was used in the Latin Zhuang alphabet from 1957 to 1986 to represent the third (high) tone. In 1986, it was replaced by ⟨j⟩.

Other related letters and similar charactersEdit

Computing codesEdit

Character З з
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 1047 U+0417 1079 U+0437 42560 U+A640 42561 U+A641
UTF-8 208 151 D0 97 208 183 D0 B7 234 153 128 EA 99 80 234 153 129 EA 99 81
Numeric character reference З З з з Ꙁ Ꙁ ꙁ ꙁ
KOI8-R and KOI8-U 250 FA 218 DA
Code page 855 244 F4 243 F3
Code page 866 135 87 167 A7
Windows-1251 199 C7 231 E7
ISO-8859-5 183 B7 215 D7
Macintosh Cyrillic 135 87 231 E7

External linksEdit

  •   The dictionary definition of З at Wiktionary
  •   The dictionary definition of з at Wiktionary


  1. ^ a b c Ponomar Project. The Complete Character Range for Slavonic Script in Unicode.