- O O ([=o]).
1. O, the fifteenth letter of the English alphabet, derives
its form, value, and name from the Greek O, through the
Latin. The letter came into the Greek from the
Ph[oe]nician, which possibly derived it ultimately from
the Egyptian. Etymologically, the letter o is most closely
related to a, e, and u; as in E. bone, AS. b[=a]n; E.
stone, AS. st[=a]n; E. broke, AS. brecan to break; E.
bore, AS. beran to bear; E. dove, AS. d[=u]fe; E. toft,
tuft; tone, tune; number, F. nombre.
[1913 Webster] The letter o has several vowel sounds, the
principal of which are its long sound, as in bone, its
short sound, as in nod, and the sounds heard in the words
orb, son, do (feod), and wolf (book). In connection with
the other vowels it forms several digraphs and diphthongs.
See Guide to Pronunciation, [sect][sect] 107-129.
2. Among the ancients, O was a mark of triple time, from the notion that the ternary, or number 3, is the most perfect of numbers, and properly expressed by a circle, the most perfect figure. [1913 Webster] O was also anciently used to represent 11: with a dash over it ([=O]), 11,000. [1913 Webster]
The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.