U, the twenty-first letter of the English alphabet, is a cursive form of the letter V, with which it was formerly used interchangeably, both letters being then used both as vowels and consonants. U and V are now, however, differentiated, U being used only as a vowel or semivowel, and V only as a consonant. The true primary vowel sound of U, in Anglo-Saxon, was the sound which it still retains in most of the languages of Europe, that of long oo, as in tool, and short oo, as in wood, answering to the French ou in tour. Etymologically U is most closely related to o, y (vowel), w, and v; as in two, duet, dyad, twice; top, tuft; sop, sup; auspice, aviary. See V, also O and Y. See Guide to Pronunciation, §§ 130-144.
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From Middle English lower case letter v (also written u), from Old English lower case u, from 7th century replacement by lower case u of the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc letter ᚢ (u, “ur”), derived from Raetic letter u. Before the 1700s, the pointed form v was written at the beginning of a word, while a rounded form u was used elsewhere, regardless of sound. So whereas valor and excuse appeared as in modern printing, have and upon were printed haue and vpon. Eventually, in the 1700s, to differentiate between the consonant and vowel sounds, the v form was used to represent the consonant, and u the vowel sound. v then preceded u in the alphabet, but the order has since reversed.
u (plural ues) The name of the Latin-script letter U/u. A thing in the shape of the letter U
Adverb u where
u (formal) your (singular)
u (metrology) symbol for unified atomic mass unit (phonetics) Used in the International Phonetic Alphabet and in several romanization systems of non-Latin scripts to represent a close back rounded vowel (IPA(key): /u/).
u + genitive at by
(Latin’s names for the letters of its own alphabet): ā (A), bē (B), cē (C), dē (D), ē (E), ef (F), gē (G), hā (H), ī (I), kā (K), el (L), em (M), en (N), ō (O), pē (P), kū (Q), er (R), es (S), tē (T), ū (V), ix / īx / ex (X), ȳ (Y), zēta (Z)
u lower case (upper case U) The twenty-first letter of the basic modern Latin alphabet.
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