Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
W is the twenty-third letter of the modern Latin alphabet.
W was invented in the 7th century by Anglo-Saxon writers, and was originally a doubled V (which also represented U—hence the name "Double U"). The sound [w], the voiced labial-velar approximant, was previously represented by the Runic letter Wynn (Ƿ).
The Latin [w] sound developed into Romance [v]; therefore V no longer adequately represented Germanic [w]. In German—as in Romance—the phoneme [w] was lost; this is why German W represents [v] rather than [w]. In Dutch, W is a labiodental approximant (with the exception of words with EEUW, which have ), or other diphthongs containing -UW.
There are only four major European languages that use W in native words: English, German, Polish, and Dutch. In the Swedish and Finnish alphabets, "W" is seen as a variant of "V" and not a separate letter. It is however recognised and maintained in names, like "William". In the alphabets of modern Romance languages, it is not used either, except in foreign names and words recently borrowed (le week-end, il watt, el kiwi). When a spelling for the [w] sound in a native word is needed, a spelling from the native alphabet, such as U or OU, can be used instead.
"Double U" is the only English letter name with more than one syllable. This gives the nine-syllable initialism www the irony of being an abbreviation that takes more syllables to say than the unabbreviated form, and thus shortening the "double u" into "dup" only. In Texas dialect, however, the name of W is often condensed to two syllables rather than three, resulting in George W. Bush's nickname of "Dubya".
Whiskey represents the letter W in the NATO phonetic alphabet.
Meanings for W
- In biochemistry, W is the symbol for tryptophan.
- In calendars, W is often an abbreviation for Wednesday.
- In chemistry, W is the symbol for tungsten, after its German name, Wolfram.
- In computing,
- In film, W is the name of a 1973 American film; see W (film)
- In Italy, W (which does not appear in the Italian alphabet) stands for Viva ("long live").
- In journalism, the "five W's" are who, what, when, where and why.
- In the Metric system, W is the symbol for the watt, the SI derived unit for power.
- in physics,
- in population genetics, w is the symbol for fitness
- In politics, W is a nickname of American President George W. Bush, sometimes spelled out as "Dubya" (the President's name is sometimes written "George Double-U Bush"). "W" is used by Bush himself, on campaign signs, and by many of his supporters. Dubya is generally used by opponents of Bush, or by those making fun of him.
- As the first letter of a postal code,
- In publishing, W is the name of an American fashion magazine; see W (magazine).
- In radiocommunication, W is one of the ITU prefixes allocated to the United States. W is generally used as the first letter of callsigns allocated to broadcast television or radio stations east of the Mississippi river.
- In television,
- In computing and video games,
- W is the abbreviation for Wario, a Nintendo character.
- W is appended to the word pictures to form a pornographic meme as in picturesw
- In the video game Bubble Bobble, golden W's appear on the French fry power-up packages, instead of the Golden Arches (in the form of M's) on McDonald's food containers.
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