This article is about the letter of the Roman alphabet. For the letter of the Cyrillic script (М, м), see Em (Cyrillic). For other uses, see M (disambiguation).

For technical reasons, "M#" redirects here. For the programming language, see M Sharp.

Writing cursive forms of M

M (named em /ˈɛm/)[1] is the 13th letter of the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet.


Egyptian hieroglyph "n" -Phoenician
Etruscan M Greek
Roman M

The letter M is derived from the Phoenician Mem, via the Greek Mu (Μ, μ). Semitic Mem is most likely derived from a "Proto-Sinaitic" (Bronze Age) adoption of the "water" ideogram in Egyptian writing. The Egyptian sign had the acrophonic value /n/, from the Egyptian word for "water", nt; the adoption as the Semitic letter for /m/ was presumably also on acrophonic grounds, from the Semitic word for "water", *mā(y)-.[2]

Use in writing systems

The letter m represents the bilabial nasal consonant sound [m] in the orthography of Latin as well as in that of many modern languages, and also in the International Phonetic Alphabet. In English, the Oxford English Dictionary (first edition) says that m is sometimes a vowel in words like spasm and in the suffix -ism. In modern terminology, this is described as a syllabic consonant (IPA [m̩]).

Other uses

The Roman numeral Ⅿ represents the number 1000, though it was not used in Roman times.[3]

Related characters

Descendants and related characters in the Latin alphabet

Ancestors and siblings in other alphabets

Ligatures and abbreviations

Computing codes

Character M m
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 77 U+004D 109 U+006D
UTF-8 77 4D 109 6D
Numeric character reference M M m m
EBCDIC family 212 D4 148 94
ASCII 1 77 4D 109 6D
1 Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.

Other representations


  1. "M" Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993); "em," op. cit.
  2. See F. Simons, "Proto-Sinaitic — Progenitor of the Alphabet" Rosetta 9 (2011): Figure Two: "Representative selection of proto-Sinaitic characters with comparison to Egyptian hieroglyphs", (p. 38) Figure Three: "Chart of all early proto-Canaanite letters with comparison to proto-Sinaitic signs" (p. 39), Figure Four: "Representative selection of later proto-Canaanite letters with comparison to early proto-Canaanite and proto-Sinaitic signs" (p. 40). See also: Goldwasser (2010), following Albright (1966), "Schematic Table of Proto-Sinaitic Characters" (fig. 1).
  3. Gordon, Arthur E. (1983). Illustrated Introduction to Latin Epigraphy. University of California Press. p. 45. ISBN 9780520038981. Retrieved 3 October 2015.

External links

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