E, or e, is the fifth letter and the second vowel 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 e (pronounced /ˈ/); plural es, Es or E's.[1]

E e
Writing systemLatin script
Language of originLatin language
Phonetic usage
Unicode codepointU+0045, U+0065
Alphabetical position5
Time periodc. 700 BC to present
Other letters commonly used withee, e(x), e(x)(y)
Writing directionLeft-to-Right
This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and ⟨ ⟩, see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.

It is the most commonly used letter in many languages, including Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Latin, Latvian, Norwegian, Spanish, and Swedish.[2][3][4][5][6][excessive citations]


In English, the name of the letter is the "long E" sound, pronounced /ˈ/. In most other languages, its name matches the letter's pronunciation in open syllables.

Pronunciation of the name of the letter ⟨e⟩ in European languages


Egyptian hieroglyph
Proto-Sinaitic Proto-Canaanite hillul Phoenician
Western Greek

The Latin letter 'E' differs little from its source, the Greek letter epsilon, 'Ε'. This in turn comes from the Semitic letter , 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, became the letter epsilon, used to represent /e/. The various forms of the Old Italic script and the Latin alphabet followed this usage.

Use in writing systems

Pronunciation of ⟨e⟩ by language
Orthography Phonemes
Standard Chinese (Pinyin) /ə/
English /ɛ/, //, /ə/, /ɜː/, /ɪə/
French /ə/, /ɛ/, /e/
German /ɛ/, //, /e/
Portuguese /e/, /ɛ/, /i/, /ɨ/, /j/, /ɐ/, /ɐi/
Spanish /e/
Turkish /e/


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 unstressed syllables, this letter is usually pronounced either as /ɪ/ or /ə/. In other cases, the letter is silent, generally at the end of words like queue.

Other languages

In the orthography of many languages it represents either [e], [], [ɛ], or some variation (such as a nasalized version) of these sounds, often with diacritics (as: ⟨e ê é è ë ē ĕ ě ė ę ) 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 /ø/ in French or /ɔɪ/ in German.

Other systems

The International Phonetic Alphabet uses ⟨e⟩ for the close-mid front unrounded vowel or the mid front unrounded vowel.


'E' is the most common (or highest-frequency) letter in the English language alphabet and several other European languages,[7] 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 Wright's Gadsby (1939) is considered a "dreadful" novel, and supposedly "at least part of Wright's narrative issues were caused by language limitations imposed by the lack of E."[8] Both Georges Perec's novel A Void (La Disparition) (1969) and its English translation by Gilbert Adair omit 'e' and are considered better works.[9]

Other uses

A scientific calculator display showing the Avogadro constant (6.02214076×1023 reciprocal moles) in E notation
  • In the hexadecimal (base 16) numbering system, "E" corresponds to the number 14 in decimal (base 10) counting.
  • "e" is also commonly used to denote Euler's number.

Ancestors and siblings in other alphabets

  • 𐤄 : Semitic letter He (letter), from which the following symbols originally derive
    • Ε ε : Greek letter Epsilon, from which the following symbols originally derive
      • Е е : Cyrillic letter Ye
      • Є є : Ukrainian Ye
      • Э э : Cyrillic letter E
      • Ⲉ ⲉ : Coptic letter Ei
      • 𐌄 : Old Italic E, which is the ancestor of modern Latin E
        •  : Runic letter Ehwaz, which is possibly a descendant of Old Italic E
      • 𐌴 : Gothic letter eyz

Derived signs, symbols and abbreviations

Other representations


Character information
Preview E e
Encodings decimal hex dec hex dec hex dec hex
Unicode 69 U+0045 101 U+0065 65317 U+FF25 65349 U+FF45
UTF-8 69 45 101 65 239 188 165 EF BC A5 239 189 133 EF BD 85
Numeric character reference E E e e E E e e
EBCDIC family 197 C5 133 85
ASCII 1 69 45 101 65
1 Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.


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.

See also

  • "E notation" is used by scientific calculators to indicate a power of ten multiplier.
  • E-number – Codes for food additives


  1. ^ "E". Oxford Dictionary of English (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. 2010. ISBN 9780199571123. noun (plural Es or E's)
  2. ^ Kelk, Brian. "Letter frequencies". Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2022-02-02.
  3. ^ Lewand, Robert. "Relative Frequencies of Letters in General English Plain text". Cryptographical Mathematics. Central College. Archived from the original on 2008-07-08. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  4. ^ "Frequency of Occurrence of Letters in Spanish". Santa Cruz Public Libraries. Archived from the original on 2008-05-11. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  5. ^ "Frequency of Occurrence of Letters in French". Santa Cruz Public Libraries. Archived from the original on 2008-03-12. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  6. ^ "Frequency of Occurrence of Letters in German". Santa Cruz Public Libraries. Archived from the original on 2012-06-28. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  7. ^ Grigas, Gintautas; Juškevičienė, Anita (2018-03-26). "Letter Frequency Analysis of Languages Using Latin Alphabet". International Linguistics Research. 1 (1): 18. doi:10.30560/ilr.v1n1p18. ISSN 2576-2982.
  8. ^ Ross Eckler, Making the Alphabet Dance: Recreational Word Play. New York: St. Martin's Press (1996): 3
  9. ^ Eckler (1996): 3. Perec's novel "was so well written that at least some reviewers never realized the existence of a letter constraint."
  10. ^ a b c d 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.
  11. ^ Lemonen, Therese; Ruppel, Klaas; Kolehmainen, Erkki I.; Sandström, Caroline (2006-01-26). "L2/06-036: Proposal to encode characters for Ordbok över Finlands svenska folkmål in the UCS" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-07-06. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  12. ^ a b Miller, Kirk; Ashby, Michael (2020-11-08). "L2/20-252R: Unicode request for IPA modifier-letters (a), pulmonic" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-07-30.
  13. ^ Everson, Michael; et al. (2002-03-20). "L2/02-141: Uralic Phonetic Alphabet characters for the UCS" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-02-19. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  14. ^ Ruppel, Klaas; Rueter, Jack; Kolehmainen, Erkki I. (2006-04-07). "L2/06-215: Proposal for Encoding 3 Additional Characters of the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-07-06. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ 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.
  •   Media related to E at Wikimedia Commons
  •   The dictionary definition of E at Wiktionary
  •   The dictionary definition of e at Wiktionary