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Ŭ or ŭ is a letter in the Esperanto alphabet, based on u. It is also used in the Belarusian language, when written in the 20th-century form of the Belarusian Latin alphabet. The accent mark (diacritic) is known as a breve.

This letter should not be confused with u-caron, which is used to indicate u in the third tone of Chinese language pinyin; Compare Ǔ ǔ (caron) with Ŭ ŭ (breve).

Character Ŭ ŭ
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 364 U+016C 365 U+016D
UTF-8 197 172 C5 AC 197 173 C5 AD
Numeric character reference Ŭ Ŭ ŭ ŭ
ISO 8859-3 221 DD 253 FD


The letter ŭ is called non-syllabic u (romanised: u nieskładovaje) in Belarusian because it resembles the vowel u but forms no syllables. It is an allophone of /v/ that forms the diphthongs aŭ, eŭ, oŭ and is equivalent to [u̯]. Its Cyrillic counterpart is ў.[1] Sometimes (as in National Geographic atlases), the Cyrillic letter ў is Romanized as w.


Ŭ represents a semivowel in the orthography of Esperanto, which is an international auxiliary language publicly presented in 1887. As in Belarusian, Esperanto Ŭ is pronounced as a non-syllabic [], primarily in the diphthongs and .

It is thought that ŭ was created by analogy with the Belarusian letter ў (Cyrillic u with breve), which was proposed by P.A. Bessonov in 1870.[2]

Ŭ may also be used for [w] in foreign names, such as Ŭaŝingtono for "Washington", although it usually is written with v (Vaŝingtono). It is also used for [w] in onomatopoeias, as in ŭa! "waa!", and uniquely in one native lexical word, ŭo, which is the Esperanto name of the letter ŭ itself.

Other uses

In some philological transcriptions of Latin, "ŭ" denotes a short U — for example, "fŭgō" ([ˈfʊɡoː], to chase away), vs "fūmō" ([ˈfuːmoː], to smoke).

The letter is also commonly used among Slavists to denote the short back closed vowel of Proto-Slavic.

The McCune–Reischauer Romanization of Korean uses "ŭ" to signify the close back unrounded vowel in 으.

It is also used in ISO 15919 to transcribe the Malayalam language's samvṛtōkāram, an epenthetic vowel.

Several schemes for pronunciation of English words have used "ŭ". For example, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language has used "ŭ" for /ʌ/, the vowel in the English word "cut".

See also


  1. S. Young (2006) "Belorussian". In the Encyclopedia of language and linguistics, 2nd ed.
  2. Булыка (Bulyka). У нескладовае // Энцыклапедыя літаратуры і мастацтва Беларусі. Т.4. p.377.
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