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Phonemic representation j, i, e
Position in alphabet 10
Numerical value 10
Alphabetic derivatives of the Phoenician

Yodh (also spelled Yud, Yod, Jod, or Jodh) is the tenth letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Yōd Phoenician yodh.svg, Hebrew Yōd י, Aramaic Yodh Yod.svg, Syriac Yōḏ ܚ, and Arabic Yāʾ ي (in abjadi order, 28th in modern order). Its sound value is /j/ in all languages for which it is used; in many languages, it also serves as a long vowel, representing //.

The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Iota (Ι),[1] Latin I, J, Cyrillic І, Й, Coptic iauda () and Gothic eis Gothic letter eis.svg.


Yodh is thought to have originated with a pictograph of a hand that ultimately derives from Proto-Semitic *yad-. It may be related to the Egyptian hieroglyphic of an arm:[citation needed]


Hebrew Yud

Orthographic variants
Various print fonts Cursive
Serif Sans-serif Monospaced
י י י Hebrew letter Yud handwriting.svg Hebrew letter Yud Rashi.png

Hebrew spelling: יוֹד ;[2][3] colloquial יוּד


In both Biblical and modern Hebrew, Yud represents a palatal approximant ([j]).


Yud is a mater lectionis, like Aleph, He, and Vav. At the end of words with a vowel or when marked with a sh'va nach, it represents the formation of a diphthong, such as /ei/, /ai/, or /oi/.


In gematria, Yud represents the number ten.

As a prefix, it designates the third person singular (or plural, with a Vav as a suffix) in the future tense.

As a suffix, it indicates first person singular possessive; av (father) becomes avi (my father).

"Yod" in the Hebrew language signifies iodine.

In religion

Two Yuds in a row designate the name of God Adonai and in pointed texts are written with the vowels of Adonai; this is done as well with the Tetragrammaton.

As Yud is the smallest letter, much kabbalistic and mystical significance is attached to it. According to the Gospel of Matthew Jesus mentioned it during the Antithesis of the Law when he says: "One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Jot, or iota, refers to the letter Yud; it was often overlooked by scribes because of its size and position as a mater lectionis. In modern Hebrew, the phrase "tip of the Yud" refers to a small and insignificant thing, and someone who "worries about the tip of a Yud" is someone who is picky and meticulous about small details.

Much kabbalistic and mystical significance is also attached to it because of its gematria value as ten, which is an important number in Judaism, and its place in the name of God. See The Mystical Significance of the Hebrew Letters - Yud.[4]

Arabic yāʼ

The letter ي is named yāʼ (يَاء). It is written in several ways depending on its position in the word:

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ي‎ ـي‎ ـيـ‎ يـ‎

It is pronounced in four ways:

  • As a consonant, it is pronounced as a palatal approximant /j/, typically at the beginnings of words in front of short or long vowels.
  • A long /iː/ usually in the middle or end of words. In this case it has no diacritic, but could be marked with a kasra in the preceding letter in some traditions.
  • A long /eː/ In many dialects, as a result of the monophthongization that underwent the diphthong /aj/.
  • In Modern Standard Arabic it is a part of a diphthong, /aj/. Then, it has no diacritic but could be marked with a sukun in some traditions. The preceding consonant could have no diacritic or have fatḥa sign, hinting to the first vowel in the diphthong, i.e. /a/.

As a vowel, yāʾ can serve as the "seat" of the hamza: ئ

Yāʾ serves several functions in the Arabic language. Yāʾ as a prefix is the marker for a singular imperfective verb, as in يَكْتُب yaktub "he writes" from the root ك-ت-ب K-T-B ("write, writing"). Yāʾ with a shadda is particularly used to turn a noun into an adjective, called a nisbah (نِسْبَة). For instance مِصْر Miṣr (Egypt) → مِصْرِيّ Miṣriyy (Egyptian). The transformation can be more abstract; for instance, مَوْضَوع mawḍū` (matter, object) → مَوْضُوعِيّ mawḍū`iyy (objective). Still other uses of this function can be a bit further from the root: إِشْتِرَاك ishtirāk (cooperation) → إِشْتِرَاكِيّ ishtirākiyy (socialist). The common pronunciation of the final /-ijj/ is most often pronounced as [i] or [iː].

A form similar to but distinguished from yāʾ is the ʾalif maqṣūrah (أَلِف مَقْصُورَة) (broken alif), with the form ى. It indicates a final long /aː/.

In Egypt, Sudan and sometimes Maghreb, the final form is always ى (without dots), both in handwriting and in print, representing both final /-iː/ and /-aː/. ى representing final /-aː/ (DIN 31635 transliteration: ā) is less likely to occur in Modern Standard Arabic. In this case, it is commonly known as, especially in Egypt, أَلِف لَيِّنَة ʾalif layyinah [ˈʔælef læjˈjenæ]. In Egypt, it is always short [-æ, -ɑ] if used in Egyptian Arabic and most commonly short in Modern Standard Arabic, as well.

Perso-Arabic ye

In Perso-Arabic the letter is generally called ye, following Persian-language custom. In its final form, the letter does not have dots (ی), much like the Arabic ʾalif maqṣūrah or, more to the point, much like the custom in Egypt, Sudan and sometimes Maghreb. On account of this difference, Perso-Arabic ye is located at a different Unicode code point than both of the standard Arabic letters.

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ی‎ ـی‎ ـیـ‎ یـ‎

In computers, the Persian version of the letter automatically appears with two dots initially and medially: (یـ ـیـ ـی). The Arabic version without dots ى is not used initially or medially, and it is not joinable initially or medially in all fonts. However, it is used in the Uyghur Arabic alphabet and the Arabic-based Kyrgyz alphabet: (ىـ ـىـ‎).

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ى‎ ـى‎ ـىـ‎ ىـ‎

In Kashmiri, it use a ring instead from ي of a dots below (ؠ ؠـ ـؠـ ـؠ‎).

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ؠ‎ ـؠ‎ ـؠـ‎ ؠـ‎

Returned yāʾ

In different calligraphic styles like Ḥijāzī, Kūfī and Nastaʿlīq a final yāʾ might have a particular shape with the descender turned to the right (ـے), called al-yāʾ al-mardūdah/al-rājiʿah ("returned, recurred yāʾ"),[5] either with two dots or without them.[6]

In Urdu this is called baṛī ye ("big ye"), but it's an independent letter used for /ɛː, eː/ and differs from the basic ye (chhoṭī ye, "little ye"). For this reason the letter has its own code point in Unicode. Nevertheless, its initial and medial forms are not different from the other ye (practically baṛī ye is not used in these positions).

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ے‎ ـے‎ ـے‎ ے‎

Character encodings

Character י ي ܝ
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 1497 U+05D9 1610 U+064A 1821 U+071D 2057 U+0809
UTF-8 215 153 D7 99 217 138 D9 8A 220 157 DC 9D 224 160 137 E0 A0 89
Numeric character reference י י ي ي ܝ ܝ ࠉ ࠉ
Character 𐎊 𐡉 𐤉
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 66442 U+1038A 67657 U+10849 67849 U+10909
UTF-8 240 144 142 138 F0 90 8E 8A 240 144 161 137 F0 90 A1 89 240 144 164 137 F0 90 A4 89
UTF-16 55296 57226 D800 DF8A 55298 56393 D802 DC49 55298 56585 D802 DD09
Numeric character reference 𐎊 𐎊 𐡉 𐡉 𐤉 𐤉

See also


  1. Victor Parker, A History of Greece, 1300 to 30 BC, (John Wiley & Sons, 2014), 67.
  2. Morfix.mako.co.il
  3. Fileformat.info
  4. Inner.org
  5. Gacek, Adam (2008). The Arabic manuscript tradition: a glossary of technical terms and bibliography: supplement. Leiden: Brill. p. 29. ISBN 9004165401.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Yūsofī, Ḡolām-Ḥosayn (1990). "Calligraphy". Encyclopædia Iranica. IV. p. 680–704.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links