Ł or ł, described in English as L with stroke, is a letter of the West Slavic (Polish, Kashubian, and Sorbian), Belarusian Latin, Ukrainian Latin, Wymysorys, Navajo, Dëne Sųłıné, Inupiaq, Zuni, Hupa, Sm'álgyax, Nisga'a, and Dogrib alphabets, several proposed alphabets for the Venetian language, and the ISO 11940 romanization of the Thai script. In Slavic languages, it represents the continuation of Proto-Slavic , non-palatal (dark L), except in Polish, Kashubian, and Sorbian, where it evolved further into . In most non-European languages, it represents a voiceless alveolar lateral fricative or similar sound.

Glyph shape

In normal typefaces, the letter has a stroke approximately in the middle of the vertical stem, crossing it at an angle between 70° and 45°, never horizontally. In cursive handwriting and typefaces that imitate it, the capital letter has a horizontal stroke through the middle and looks very similar to the pound sign . In the cursive lowercase letter, the stroke is also horizontal and placed on top of the letter instead of going through the middle of the stem, which would not be distinguishable from the letter t. The stroke is either straight or slightly wavy, depending on the style. Unlike , the letter is usually written without a noticeable loop at the top. Most publicly available multilingual cursive typefaces, including commercial ones, feature an incorrect glyph for . A rare variant of the ł glyph is a cursive double-ł ligature, used in words such as ', ' or ' (archaic: Allah), where the strokes at the top of the letters are joined into a single stroke.


In Polish, is used to distinguish historical dark (velarized) L from clear L The Polish now sounds the same as the English , as in ''water'' (except for older speakers in some eastern dialects where it still sounds velarized). In 1440, proposed a letter resembling \ \ell to represent clear L. For dark L he suggested "l" with a stroke running in the opposite direction to the modern version. The latter was introduced in 1514–1515 by Stanisław Zaborowski in his . L with stroke originally represented a velarized alveolar lateral approximant , a pronunciation that is preserved in the eastern part of Poland and among the Polish minority in Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine. This pronunciation is similar to Russian unpalatalised in native words and grammar forms. In modern Polish, Ł is usually pronounced (exactly as w in English as a consonant, as in ''wet''). This pronunciation first appeared among Polish lower classes in the 16th century. It was considered an uncultured accent by the upper classes (who pronounced as ) until the mid-20th century when this distinction gradually began to fade. The shift from to in Polish has affected all instances of dark L, even word-initially or intervocalically, e.g. ''ładny'' ("pretty, nice") is pronounced , ''słowo'' ("word") is , and ''ciało'' ("body") is . Ł often alternates with clear L, such as the plural forms of adjectives and verbs in the past tense that are associated with masculine personal nouns, e.g. ''mały'' → ''mali'' ( → ). Alternation is also common in declension of nouns, e.g. from nominative to locative, ''tło'' → ''na tle'' ( → ). Polish final Ł also often corresponds to Ukrainian word-final Ve (Cyrillic) and Belarusian (Short U (Cyrillic). Thus, "he gave" is "dał" in Polish, "дав" in Ukrainian, "даў" in Belarusian (all pronounced ), but "дал" in Russian.


Historic figures * Kazimierz Pułaski (), known as Casimir Pulaski, a Polish soldier and commander, a brigadier general in the Continental Army cavalry during American Revolutionary War * Ignacy Łukasiewicz (), the inventor of the modern kerosene lamp * Jan Łukasiewicz (), the inventor of Polish notation * Wisława Szymborska (), a Polish poet and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature * Lech Wałęsa (), Polish labor leader and former president * Stanisław Lem (), Polish writer of science fiction, philosophy, and satire, and a trained physician * Mieczysław Weinberg, Polish-born Soviet composer * Witold Lutosławski, Polish composer * Wacław Sierpiński (), Polish mathematician Some examples of words with 'ł': *Władysław *Wisła (Vistula) *Łódź *Łukasz (Lucas / Luke) *Michał (Michael) *Złoty (zloty / golden) In contexts where Ł is not readily available as a glyph, basic L is used instead. Thus, the surname Małecki would be spelled Malecki in a foreign country. Similarly, the stroke is sometimes omitted on the internet, as may happen with all diacritic-enhanced letters. Leaving out the diacritic does not impede communication for native speakers. In the 1980s, when some computers available in Poland lacked Polish diacritics, it was common practice to use a pound sterling sign (£) for Ł. This practice ceased as soon as DOS-based and Mac computers came with a code page for such characters.

Other languages

In Belarusian Łacinka (both in the 1929 and 1962 versions), corresponds to Cyrillic (El), and is normally pronounced (almost exactly as in English ''pull''). In Navajo, is used for a voiceless alveolar lateral fricative , like the Welsh double L. is used in orthographic transcription of Ahtna, an Athabaskan language spoken in Alaska; it represents a breathy lateral fricative. It is also used in Tanacross, a related Athabaskan language. When writing IPA for some Scandinavian dialects which involve the pronunciation of a retroflex flap , e.g. in Eastern Norwegian dialects, authors may employ .

Computer usage

The Unicode codepoints for the letter are U+0142 for the lower case, and U+0141 for the capital. In the LaTeX typesetting system and may be typeset with the commands \L and \l, respectively. The HTML-codes are Ł and ł for and , respectively.


The Ł symbol is often associated with the Litecoin crypto-currency. It represents the largest and most common denomination of Litecoin.

See also

*Ў, ў – short U (Belarusian Cyrillic) *£ – pound sign * In Venetian, a similar glyph , (L with bar, a horizontal bar) is used as substitution for L in many words in which the pronunciation of "L" has changed for some dialects, i.e. by becoming voiceless or becoming the sound of the shorter vowel corresponding to or .


External links

Kreska ukośna
in ''Polish Diacritics: How to?'', by Adam Twardoch, Polish country delegate at ATypI {{DEFAULTSORT:L With Stroke L stroke Category:Belarusian language Category:Polish language L stroke Category:Navajo language Category:Specific Polish letters