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K or k (pronunciation: [k], pronunciation of the name of the letter: [ kaː ]) is the tenth letter of the classical and the eleventh letter of the modern Latin alphabet . It denotes a consonant .

The letter K has an average frequency of 1.21 percent in German texts. It is the 19th most common letter in German texts .

The letter K is in the finger alphabet

The finger alphabet for the deaf or hard of hearing represents the letter K by spreading the index finger , middle finger and thumb upwards and the remaining fingers on the palm.


The letter K denotes the German the voiceless velar plosive [⁠ k ⁠] . In Swedish it can also be for the voiceless fricative alveolopalatalen [⁠ ɕ ⁠] are.


Palm (protosinaitic) Phoenician cape Classical Greek kappa Etruscan K Latin K
Palm (protosinaitic) Phoenician cape Greek kappa Etruscan K Latin K

In the Protosinaite script the letter represents the palm of the hand. In the Phoenician alphabet the letter was already strongly stylized. It had the name Kaph (palm) and stood for the sound value [k]. The Phoenician sign Yodh was partly written like a mirrored kapha, but must not be confused with it.

In the Greek alphabet , the kaph was adopted as kappa and also had the sound value [k]. At the beginning, the opening of the K still pointed to the left, after the Greeks switched the writing direction to left-to-right, the letter was mirrored.

The Etruscans adopted the unreflected version of the kappa. The Etruscan language had no voiced plosives . The Etruscans used three letters to represent / k / instead. The K was used to represent [k] before [a]. Besides, it was only used in special situations.

The Romans adopted the K for the sound value [k] in their alphabet and later mirrored it analogously to the Greeks when the direction of writing changed. Ever since the development of the classic Latin but the letter eked out a shadowy existence - the sound [k] was especially by the letter C played. This is still the case today in the Romance languages , where K is only used in foreign words , apart from Sardinian . Over time, in the so-called Vulgar Latin , the basis of the Romance languages, the sound value of the C in front of the light vowels [e] and [i] via the intermediate level [t͡ɕ] (as in German whip ) from [k] to [t͡s] and then further developed to [s] or [θ] (as in English: thing ). This sound change, it is a question of a palatalization , took place in the first five to six centuries after Christ.
Also the result of the development of Latin [k] before a, o, u. is not represented with the letter K, but with C or Ch in the relevant languages. Examples: lat. C aput (main)> French. ch ef [ʃɛf], lat. c ulum (butt)> French. c ul [ky], span. c ulo [kulo], lat. c ollum (neck)> French. c ol [kɔl] (collar), c ou [ku] (neck), Italian c ollo , Spanish c uello ['ku̯eʎo].
Other languages ​​mainly use the K to clearly represent the sound [k].


County street names

District roads in Germany are marked with a prefixed K and a number.


The lowercase “k” is used as an abbreviation for “kilo” - for a thousand times (1,000) of units of measure (see also prefixes for units of measure ). Based on this, the prefix “Ki” (formerly only “K”) is used for 1,024 times for units of measurement based on the binary number system (see also binary prefix ).

teenage slang

The k is also used by young people as an abbreviation for the confirming okay , but mostly only while chatting in chat rooms such as WhatsApp or on Facebook . It is pronounced not as “K” but as “Kay”. An example sentence in the chat room:

:Frage: Kannst du mir die Hausaufgaben später vorbeibringen?
:Antwort: K [oder: k]^^

In some Spanish-speaking countries, such as in the Andes region, the k is often used as a belittling variant of the equally pronounced qu or c , for example to express affection in a special way ( te kiero ). The Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski used this principle for the name of his party: Peruanos Por el Kambio .


The Kelvin (unit symbol: K) is the SI base unit of thermodynamic temperature and at the same time the legal temperature unit.

See also

  • ك , the Arabic letter Kāf
  • כ or ך , the Hebrew letter Kaph

Web links

Commons : K  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: K  - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: k  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Duden.de: k
  2. Original [k] before [e] and [i] is only preserved in the Sardinian central dialects and in loan words of some non-Latin languages ​​(e.g. Latin cellarius> (= becomes) German cellar ). See: Heinrich Lausberg: Romance Linguistics . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 1969. Göschen Collection, Vol. 250. II. Consonantism. Pp. 9-11.
  3. Examples of the intermediate stages in the development of Latin [k] before [e] and [i]: [ t͡ɕ ]: Italian città (city), [ t͡s ]: old French cite [tsite] (city), [ s ]: new French cité [site] (city), [ θ ]: Spanish ciudad [θi̯uˈða (ð)] (city)
  4. abbreviation k. Retrieved February 5, 2017 .
  5. k. Retrieved February 5, 2017 (American English).