X is the twenty-fourth letter in the modern Latin alphabet. Its name in English is spelled ex or occasionally ecks (pronEng|ɛks), ["X" "Oxford English Dictionary," 2nd edition (1989); "Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged" (1993); "ex," op. cit.] plural exes (pronEng|ɛksəz).


The consonant cluster IPA|/ks/ was, in Ancient Greek, written as either "Chi" Χ (Western Greek) or "Xi" Ξ (Eastern Greek). In the end, "Chi" was standardized as IPA|/kʰ/ (IPA|/x/ in Modern Greek), while "Xi" was standardized for IPA|/ks/. But the Etruscans had taken over "Χ" from older Western Greek; therefore, it stood for IPA|/ks/ in Etruscan and Latin.

It is unknown whether the letters "Chi" and "Xi" are Greek inventions, or whether they are ultimately of Semitic origin. "Chi" was placed toward the end of the Greek alphabet, after the Semitic letters, along with "Phi", "Psi", and "Omega", suggesting that it was an innovation; further, there is no letter corresponding specifically to the sound /ks/ in Semitic. There was a Phoenician letter form of this letter is attested.


In the International Phonetic Alphabet, IPA| [x] represents a voiceless velar fricative.

In some languages, as a result of assorted phonetic changes, handwriting adaptations or simply spelling convention, "X" has other pronunciations:
*Basque: as a spelling for IPA| [ʃ] .
*Dutch: The island of Texel is pronounced as Tessel. This is because ss was written with a ligature closely resembling the x.
*English: "X" is a double consonant or, rather, a sign for the compound consonants IPA| [ks] ; or sometimes when followed by an accented syllable beginning with a vowel, or when followed by silent h and an accented vowel IPA| [gz] (e.g. "exhaust", "exam"); usually IPA| [z] at the beginnings of words (e.g. "xylophone"), and in some compounds keeps the IPA| [z] sound, as in (e.g. "meta-xylene"). It also makes the sound IPA| [kʃ] in words ending in -xion (typically used only in British-based spellings of the language; American spellings tend to use -ction). It can also represent the sounds IPA| [gʒ] or IPA| [kʃ] , for example, in the words luxury and sexual, respectively. When the letter "X" begins a word in the English language such as "xynene" and a "z" sound is created the "X" is said to be silent. Final x is always IPA| [ks] (e.g. "ax"/"axe") except in loan words such as "faux" (see French, below).
*French: at the ends of words, silent (or IPA| [z] in liaison if the next word starts with a vowel). This usage arose as a handwriting alteration of final "-us". Two exceptions are pronounced [s] : "six" and "dix".
*In Italian, "X" is always pronounced| [ks] , as in the words "uxorio", "extra", "xilofono". It is also used, mainly amongst younger generations as a short form for "per" meaning "for", for example, x sempre (forever).
*In Norwegian, "X" is generally pronounced IPA| [ks] , but since the nineteenth century there has been a tendency to spell it out as "ks" whenever possible; it may still be retained in names of people, though it is fairly rare, and occurs mostly in foreign words and SMS language.
*Spanish: In Old Spanish, "X" was pronounced IPA| [ʃ] , as it is still currently in other Iberian languages. Later, the sound evolved to a hard IPA| [x] sound. In modern Spanish, the hard IPA| [x] sound is spelled with a "j", or with a "g" before "e" and "i", though "x" is still retained for some names (notably "México", which alternates with "Méjico"). Now, "X" represents the sound IPA| [s] (word-initially), or the consonat clusters IPA| [ks] and IPA| [gs] (e.g. "oxígeno", "examen"). Even rarer; like in Old Spanish, the "x" can be pronounced as IPA| [ʃ] in modern day in some proper nouns such as "Raxel" (a variant of Rachel) and "Xelajú". In American and seseo Spanish, the "xc" in "excelente" is pronounced as IPA| [ks] but in Spain, this combination is pronounced IPA| [ksθ] .
*Galician: In Galician (a language related to Portuguese and spoken in Northwestern Spain), "x" is pronounced as a vacillating "h", phonically similar to "j" in Spanish.
*In Portuguese, "x" can have four sounds: the most common is IPA| [ʃ] , as in 'xícara' (cup). The other sounds are: IPA| [ks] as in 'fênix/fénix' (phoenix) and IPA|s, as in 'próximo' (close/next). The most rare is IPA| [z] , as in 'exagerado' (exaggerate).
*In Albanian, "x" represents IPA| [dz] , while the digraph "xh" represents IPA| [dʒ] .
*Polish doesn't use "X". In loanwords, "X" is either replaced by "ks" like in 'ekstra' (extra), or "gz" like in 'egzotyczny' (exotic).
*In the German and Italian languages, "X" is used mainly in foreign loan words.
*In Maltese x is pronounced IPA| [ʃ]
*In Vietnamese x is pronounced IPA| [s]

Additionally, in languages for which the Latin alphabet has been adapted only recently, "x" has been used for various sounds, in some cases inspired by European usage, but in others, for consonants uncommon in Europe. For these no Latin letter stands out as an obvious choice, and since most of the various European pronunciations of "x" can be written by other means, the letter becomes available for more unusual sounds.
*"X" has its IPA value IPA| [x] in e.g. Kurdish, Azerbaijani, Uzbek, Tatar and Lojban.
*In Pirahã, "x" symbolizes the glottal stop IPA| [ʔ] .
*In Hanyu Pinyin, the official transcription system for Mandarin Chinese, the letter "x" represents the voiceless alveolo-palatal fricative IPA|/ɕ/.
*Nguni languages: represents the alveolar lateral click IPA| [ǁ] .
*An illustrating example of "x" as a "leftover" letter is differing usage in three different East Cushitic languages:
**Afar language: voiced alveolar implosive IPA| [ɗ]
**Oromo language: alveolar ejective IPA| [tʼ]
**Somali language: voiceless pharyngeal fricative IPA| [ħ]

No words in the Basic English vocabulary begin with "X", but it occurs in words beginning with other letters. It is often found in a word with an E before it. X is the third most rarely used letter in the English language.

Codes for computing

In Unicode the capital X is codepoint U+0058 and the lower case x is U+0078.

The ASCII code for capital X is 88 and for lowercase x is 120; or in binary 01011000 and 01111000, correspondingly.

The EBCDIC code for capital X is 231 and for lowercase x is 167.

The numeric character references in HTML and XML are "X" and "x" for upper and lower case respectively.

Other uses for the letter X

imilar non-Latin letters

*Χ, χ : Greek letter Chi
*Х, х : Cyrillic Kha.
*メ : Me (Japanese katakana character)
*א (Hebrew aleph) sometimes looks like X when handwritten.
*乂 : A Chinese character, pronounced "Yì" in Mandarin Chinese. Means "govern, settle, stable" (治理;安定). [《现代汉语词典》修订本,商务印书馆,Page 1490.]
* In pre-Norman Britain a "ᚷ" (Gyfu) was a letter in the Anglo-Saxon futhorc runic alpabet and also indicated a gift.

Non-letter symbols in Unicode

*× : multiplication sign
*╳ : box drawings left diagonal cross
*unicode|✕ : multiplication x
*unicode|✗ : ballot x
*unicode|✘ : heavy ballot x
*× : vector or cross product
* In the Japanese resale price maintenance system for music and print publications, "saihan seido", the typographic symbol unicode| marks the first date for the fixed price and unicode|Ⓧ marks the last date.

See also

*X Window System
*X mark
*x marks the spot



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