acute( ´ )
double acute( ˝ )
grave( ` )
double grave(  ̏ )
breve( ˘ )
inverted breve(  ̑ )
caron / háček( ˇ )
cedilla / cédille( ¸ )
circumflex / vokáň( ˆ )
dot( · )
hook / dấu hỏi(  ̉ )
horn / dấu móc(  ̛ )
macron( ¯ )
ogonek / nosinė( ˛ )
ring / kroužek( ˚, ˳ )
rough breathing / dasia( )
smooth breathing / psili( ᾿ )
diaeresis (diaeresis/umlaut)( ¨ )
Marks sometimes used as diacritics
apostrophe( )
bar( | )
colon( : )
comma( , )
hyphen( ˗ )
tilde( ~ )
titlo(  ҃ )
Diacritical marks in other scripts
Arabic diacritics
Gurmukhi diacritics
Hebrew diacritics
Indic diacritics
anusvara( )
chandrabindu( )
nukta( )
virama( )
IPA diacritics
Japanese diacritics
dakuten( )
handakuten( )
Khmer diacritics
Syriac diacritics
Thai diacritics
Punctuation marks

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Ĉ ĉ
Ê ê
Ĝ ĝ
Ĥ ĥ
Î î
Ĵ ĵ
Ô ô
Ŝ ŝ
Û û
Ŵ ŵ
Ŷ ŷ

The circumflex ( ˆ ) is a diacritic used in the written forms of many languages, and is also commonly used in various romanization and transcription schemes. It received its English name from Latin circumflexus (bent around)—a translation of the Greek περισπωμένη (perispōménē). The character is also used in mathematics, where it is typically called hat.

For actually adding the diacritic to a base letter (as in ), Unicode has U+0302  ̂  combining circumflex accent. In addition, the ISO-8859-1 character encoding includes the precomposed characters â, ê, î, ô, û (as well as their respective capital forms), and dozens more are available in Unicode.

There is a similar but larger character, U+005E  ^  circumflex accent, which is also included in ASCII but often referred to as caret instead. It is, however, unsuitable for use as a diacritic, as it is a spacing character. Another spacing circumflex character in Unicode is the smaller U+02C6  ˆ  modifier letter circumflex, mainly used in phonetic notations.




In the polytonic orthography of Ancient Greek, the circumflex marked long vowels that were pronounced with high and then falling pitch. Its shape was originally a combination of the acute and grave accents (^), but later a variant similar to the tilde (~) was also used.

The circumflex marked a syllable contracted from two vowels: an acute-accented vowel and a non-accented vowel. Because all non-accented syllables were once marked with a grave accent, the contracted syllable was marked by the acute and grave combined. This combination became the circumflex.

nóòs contraction
nóùs = ns (noũs)
νόὸς νόὺς = νοῦς

The term is also used to describe similar tonal accents that result from combining two vowels in related languages such as Sanskrit and Latin.

Since Modern Greek has a stress accent instead of a pitch accent, the circumflex has been replaced with an acute accent in the modern monotonic orthography.


The circumflex accent marks a long vowel in the orthography or transliteration of several languages.

  • Akkadian. In the transliteration of this language, the circumflex indicates a long vowel resulting from an aleph contraction.
  • French. In some varieties, such as in Belgian French, vowels with a circumflex are long: fête ("party") is longer than faites. However it originated as a sign for an S in mediaeval manuscripts, and not as a length sign.
  • Standard Friulian.
  • Japanese. In the Kunrei-shiki system of Romanization, and sometimes the Hepburn system, the circumflex is used as a replacement for the macron.
  • Jèrriais.
  • In Serbo-Croatian it can be used to distinguish homophones, and it's called the "genitive sign" or "length sign". Examples include sam (am) versus sâm (alone). For example, the phrase "I am alone" may be written Ja sam sâm to improve clarity. Another example: da (yes), (gives).[1]
  • Turkish. According to Turkish Language Association orthography, düzeltme işareti ("correction mark") over a, i and u marks a long vowel to disambiguate similar words. For example, compare ama (but) and âmâ (blind), şura (that place, there) and şûra (council).[2]
  • Welsh. The circumflex is known as hirnod ("long sign"), acen grom ("crooked accent") and also colloquially as to bach ("little roof"). It lengthens a vowel (a, e, i, o, u, w, y), and is used particularly to differentiate between homographs; e.g. tan and tân, ffon and ffôn, gem and gêm, cyn and cŷn, or gwn and gŵn.
  • In Adûnaic, the Black Speech, and Khuzdul, constructed languages of J. R. R. Tolkien, all long vowels are transcribed with the circumflex. In Sindarin long vowels in monosyllabic words take the circumflex and long vowels in longer words take the acute.


The circumflex accent marks the stressed vowel of a word in some languages:

  • Portuguese â, ê, and ô are stressed vowels. The circumflex further indicates their height (see below).
  • Welsh: the circumflex, due to its function as a disambiguating lengthening sign (see above), is used in polysyllabic words with word-final long vowels. The circumflex thus indicates the stressed syllable (which would normally be on the penultimate syllable), since in Welsh, non-stressed vowels may not normally be long. This happens notably where the singular ends in an a, to, e.g. singular camera, drama, opera, sinema → plural camerâu, dramâu, operâu, sinemâu; however, it also occurs in singular nominal forms, e.g. arwyddocâd; in verbal forms, e.g. deffrônt, cryffânt; etc.


The circumflex is also used to indicate the relative height of some vowels:

  • In Breton, it is used on an e to show that the letter is pronounced open instead of closed.
  • Portuguese â /ɐ/, ê /e/, and ô /o/, are stressed high vowels, in opposition to á /a/, é /ɛ/, and ó /ɔ/ which are stressed low vowels.
  • Vietnamese â /ɐ/, ê /e/, and ô /o/ are higher vowels than a /ɑ/, e /ɛ/, and o /ɔ/. The circumflex can appear together with a tone mark on the same vowel, as in the word Việt Nam. Vowels with circumflex are considered separate letters from the base vowels.


  • In Italian, î is occasionally used in the plural of nouns and adjectives ending with -io [jo] as a crasis mark. Other possible spellings are -ii and obsolete -j or -ij. For example, the plural of vario [ˈvaːrjo] ("various") can be spelt vari, varî, varii; the pronunciation will usually stay [ˈvaːri] with only one [i]. The plural forms of principe /ˈprintʃipe/ ("prince") and of principio /prinˈtʃipjo/ ("principle" or "beginning") can be confusing. principi would be a correct writing of both, with the only difference of the stress being on the first or on the second syllable. In such cases, if the context does not allow disambiguation, it is advised to write the plural of principio as principî or as principii.


  • In French, the circumflex generally marks the former presence of a consonant (usually s) that was deleted and is no longer pronounced. The English forms frequently retain the lost consonant.
    • ancêtre (ancestor)
    • hôpital (hospital)
    • hôtel (hostel)
    • forêt (forest)
    • rôtir (to roast)
    • côte (coast)
    • pâté (paste)
    • août (August)

As ever, there are exceptions, such as

  • depôt (Latin word depositum, meaning ‘deposit’, but now usually a bus/rail terminal or garage)
  • Note that in current French, the English spellings, at least in terms of the syllable with the circumflex, could be pronounced the same as the French spellings, due to the transformative effect of s on the preceding vowel – for example forêt /fore/ 'forest', as per est /e/ (is, third person singular of être). Conversely, in the homograph est /est/ 'east', the /s/ sound is pronounced.
Some homophones (or near-homophones in some varieties of French) are distinguished by the circumflex, for instance cote ("level", "mark") and côte ("rib" or "coast"). The letter ê is normally pronounced open, like è. In the usual pronunciations of central and northern France, ô is pronounced close, like eau; in Southern France, no distinction is made between close and open o. See also Use of the circumflex in French.
  • English: In Britain, in the eighteenth century, before the cheap Penny Post and during the time paper was taxed, the combination ough was shortened to ô when the gh was not pronounced, in order to save room in letters: thô for though, thorô for thorough, and brôt for brought.
  • In Norwegian, the circumflex generally marks the former presence of the letter ð in the spelling of the word – for example, fôr (foðr), vêr (veðr). The ð was replaced by an ordinary d before it disappeared (fodr, vedr).


  • In Old Tupi, the circumflex changed a vowel into a semivowel: î was [j], û was [w], and ŷ was [ɰ].


  • In Norwegian, it is used on ô and ê, almost exclusively in the words "fôr" (from Norse fóðr) and the related verb "fôre", meaning "lining" and "to line" (for clothes) or "animal food" and "to feed", to differentiate it from for (the preposition); lêr, meaning "leather" (Norse leðr) and "vêr" (Norse veðr), meaning "weather" or "ram". Both lêr and vêr occur only in the Nynorsk Norwegian; in Bokmål these words are spelled lær and vær.

Letter extension

  • In Bulgarian, when transliterated into the Latin alphabet (in systems used prior to 1989), the sound represented in Bulgarian by â, although called a schwa (misleadingly suggesting an unstressed lax sound), is more accurately described as a mid back unrounded vowel /ɤ/. Unlike English or French, but similar to Romanian and Afrikaans, it can be stressed. The Cyrillic letter 'ъ' (er goljam) sometimes is transliterated as 'â' or 'ŭ'; often it is just written as 'a' or 'u'.
  • In Chichewa, ŵ denotes the voiced bilabial fricative /β/, hence the name of the country Malaŵi.
  • In Esperanto, it is used on ĉ, ĝ, ĥ, ĵ, ŝ. Each indicates a different consonant from the unaccented form, and is considered a separate letter for purposes of collation. See Esperanto orthography.
  • In Nsenga, ŵ denotes the labiodental approximant /ʋ/.
  • In Pinyin romanized Mandarin Chinese, ê is used to represent the sound /ɛ/ in isolation, which occurs sometimes as an exclamation. Also, , ĉ, and ŝ are, despite rarely, used to represent zh, ch, and sh, respectively.
  • In Romanian, the circumflex is used on the vowels â and î to mark the vowel /ɨ/, similar to Russian yery. The names of these accented letters are â din a and î din i, respectively. Note: the letter â appears only in the middle of words; thus, its majuscule version appears only in all-capitals inscriptions.
  • In Slovak, the circumflex (vokáň) turns the letter o into a diphthong ô /uo/.

Other regular uses

  • In Afrikaans, it simply marks a vowel with an irregular pronunciation that is typically stressed. Examples of circumflex use in Afrikaans are (to say), wêreld (world), môre (tomorrow) and brûe (bridges).
  • In Turkish, the circumflex over a and u is used to indicate when a preceding consonant (k, g, l) is to be pronounced as a palatal plosive; [c], [ɟ] (kâğıt, gâvur, mahkûm, Gülgûn). The circumflex over i is used to indicate a nisba suffix (millî, dinî).[2]

Exceptional use

  • In English the circumflex, like other diacritics, is sometimes retained on loanwords that used it in the original language; for example, rôle.
  • In French, m with a circumflex is an informal abbreviation for même, "same," for example in taking notes.
  • In Swedish when transcribing dialectal speech, the circumflex is often used to denote an a or o which is pronounced dialectally as if it has been written ä [æ] or ö [ø].


In mathematics, the circumflex is used to modify variable names; it is usually read "hat", e.g. î is "i hat". The Fourier transform of a function ƒ is often denoted by \hat f.

In the notation of sets, a hat above an element signifies that the element was removed from the set.

In vector notation, a hat above a letter indicates a unit vector (a dimensionless vector with a magnitude of 1). For instance, î stands for a unit vector in the direction of the x-axis.

In statistics, the hat is used to denote an estimator or an estimated value, as opposed to its theoretical counterpart. For example, in errors and residuals, the hat in ε̂ indicates an observable estimate (the residuals) of an unobservable quantity called ε (the statistical errors). It is read x-hat or x-roof, where x represents the character under the hat.

See also

Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv Ww Xx Yy Zz
Letters using circumflex accent ( ◌̂ )
Ââ Ĉĉ Êê Ĝĝ Ĥĥ Î î Ĵĵ Ôô Ŝŝ Ûû Ŵŵ Ŷŷ Ẑẑ
History • Palaeography • Derivations • Diacritics • Punctuation • Numerals • Unicode • List of letters • ISO/IEC 646


  1. ^ "Genitivni znak" (in Serbian). Pravopis Srpskog Jezika. 
  2. ^ a b

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • circumflex — CIRCUMFLÉX, circumflexe, adj. 1. (În sintagma) Accent circumflex = semn ortografic în formă de unghi cu vârful în sus sau de tildă, care se pune deasupra unei vocale spre a arăta că aceasta trebuie rostită lung sau, în ortografia română, spre a… …   Dicționar Român

  • circumflex — [sʉr′kəm fleks΄] n. [L circumflexus, pp. of circumflectere < circum, around + flectere, to bend] a mark (^ or ˜) used over certain vowel letters in the orthography of some languages to indicate a specific sound or quality, or used in certain… …   English World dictionary

  • Circumflex — Cir cum*flex, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Circumflexed}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Circumflexing}.] To mark or pronounce with a circumflex. Walker. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Circumflex — Cir cum*flex, a. [Cf. L. circumflexus, p. p.] [1913 Webster] 1. Moving or turning round; circuitous. [R.] Swift. [1913 Webster] 2. (Anat.) Curved circularly; applied to several arteries of the hip and thigh, to arteries, veins, and a nerve of the …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Circumflex — Cir cum*flex, n. [L. circumflexus a bending round, fr. circumflectere, circumflexum, to bend or turn about; circum + flectere to bend. See {Flexible}.] [1913 Webster] 1. A wave of the voice embracing both a rise and fall or a fall and a rise on… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Circumflex — (v. lat., herumgebeugt), so Circumflexe Arterien (Circumflexae arteriae), Arterien, die in ihrem Laufe um Theile von einigem bedeutenden Umfange sich herumbiegen, bes. Circumflexe Arterie der Hüfte (Circumflexa arteria ilei), Circumflexe Arterien …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Circumflex — Circumflex, derjenige Accent, der eine gedehnte Silbe bezeichnet …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • circumflex — (n.) 1570s, from L. (accentus) circumflexus, bent round, pp. of circumflectere to bend round (from circum around + flectere to bend ); used as a loan translation of Gk. perispomenos (Dionysius of Halicarnassus), lit. drawn around, with reference… …   Etymology dictionary

  • circumflex — ► NOUN ▪ a mark (^) placed over a vowel in some languages to indicate contraction, length, or another quality. ORIGIN Latin circumflexus, from circum around + flectere to bend …   English terms dictionary

  • circumflex — I. adjective Etymology: Latin circumflexus, past participle of circumflectere to bend around, mark with a circumflex, from circum + flectere to bend Date: circa 1577 1. characterized by the pitch, quantity, or quality indicated by a circumflex 2 …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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