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It is not known how the character for Zhe was derived. No similar letter exists in Greek, Latin or any other alphabet of the time, though there is some graphic similarity with its Glagolitic counterpart Zhivete ⟨Ⰶ⟩ (Image:  ) which represents the same sound. However, the origin of Zhivete, like that of most Glagolitic letters, is unclear. One possibility is that it was formed from two connecting Hebrew letters Shin ⟨ש⟩, the bottom one inverted.[citation needed]

In the Early Cyrillic alphabet the name of Zhe was живѣтє (živěte), meaning "live" (imperative).

Zhe was not used in the Cyrillic numeral system.


Zhe is used in the alphabets of all Slavic languages using a Cyrillic alphabet, and of most non-Slavic languages which use a Cyrillic alphabet. The position in the alphabet and the sound represented by the letter vary from language to language.

Language Position in
Represented sound Romanization
Belarusian 8th voiced retroflex fricative /ʐ/ ž
Bulgarian 7th voiced postalveolar fricative /ʒ/ zh
Macedonian 8th voiced postalveolar fricative /ʒ/ zh
Russian 8th voiced retroflex fricative /ʐ/ zh
Serbian 8th voiced postalveolar fricative /ʒ/ ž
Ukrainian 9th voiced postalveolar fricative /ʒ/ zh
Uzbek (1940–1994) 8th voiced postalveolar affricate /dʒ/ or voiced postalveolar fricative /ʒ/ (in Russian loanwords only) j
Mongolian 8th voiceless postalveolar affricate /tʃ/ j
Kyrgyz 8th voiced postalveolar affricate /dʒ/ j
Dungan 8th voiced retroflex fricative /ʐ/ r
other non-Slavic languages voiced postalveolar fricative /ʒ/

Zhe can also be used in Leet speak or faux Cyrillic in place of the letter ⟨x⟩, or to represent the symbol of the rap duo Kris Kross (a ligature of two back-to-back letter K's).


Ж is most often transliterated as the digraph ⟨zh⟩ for English-language readers (as in Doctor Zhivago, Доктор Живаго, or Georgy Zhukov, Георгий Жуков). In linguistics and for Central European readers, it is most often transliterated as ⟨ž⟩, with a háček. The scientific transliteration convention comes from Czech spelling and is also used in the Latin alphabets of several other Slavic languages (Slovak, Sorbian, Serbo-Croatian and Slovene). Thus, Leonid Brezhnev's surname (Леонид Брежнев) could be transliterated as "Brežnev", as it is spelled in a number of Slavic languages. Polish uses its own convention for transliteration of Cyrillic according to which ж is transliterated with the Polish letter ż (which is pronounced /ʐ/ in Polish). Ж is often transliterated ⟨j⟩ in Mongolian because of its pronunciation as IPA: [t͡ʃ].

Related letters and other similar charactersEdit

Computing codesEdit

Character Ж ж
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 1046 U+0416 1078 U+0436
UTF-8 208 150 D0 96 208 182 D0 B6
Numeric character reference Ж Ж ж ж
KOI8-R and KOI8-U 246 F6 214 D6
Code page 855 234 EA 233 E9
Code page 866 134 86 166 A6
Windows-1251 198 C6 230 E6
ISO-8859-5 182 B6 214 D6
Macintosh Cyrillic 134 86 230 E6

External linksEdit

  •   The dictionary definition of Ж at Wiktionary
  •   The dictionary definition of ж at Wiktionary