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Œ (minuscule: œ) is a Latin alphabet grapheme, a ligature of o and e. In medieval and early modern Latin, it was used to represent the Greek diphthong οι and in a few non-Greek words, usages that continue in English and French. In French, it is also used in some non-learned words, representing then mid-front rounded vowel-sounds, rather than sounding the same as é or è, those being its traditional French values in the words borrowed from or via Latin.

It is used in the modern orthography for Old West Norse and is used in the International Phonetic Alphabet to represent the open-mid front rounded vowel. In English runology, œ is used to transliterate the Runic letter odal Runic letter othalan.svg (Old English ēðel "estate, ancestral home").[1]

Latin

Classical Latin wrote the o and e separately (as has today again become the general practice), but the ligature was used by medieval and early modern writings, in part because the diphthongal sound had, by Late Latin, merged into the sound [e]. The classical diphthong had the value [oe̯], similar to (standard) English oy as in boy. It occurs most often in borrowings from Greek, rendering that language's οι (= in majuscule: ΟΙ), although it is also used in some native words such as coepi.

French

In French, œ is called e dans l'o, which means e in the o (a mnemotechnic pun used first at school, sounding like (des) œufs dans l'eau, meaning eggs in water) or sometimes o et e collés, (literally o and e glued) and is a true linguistic ligature, not just a typographic one (like the fi or

It is used in the modern orthography for Old West Norse and is used in the International Phonetic Alphabet to represent the open-mid front rounded vowel. In English runology, œ is used to transliterate the Runic letter odal Runic letter othalan.svg (Old English ēðel "estate, ancestral home").[1]

Classical Latin wrote the o and e separately (as has today again become the general practice), but the ligature was used by medieval and early modern writings, in part because the diphthongal sound had, by Late Latin, merged into the sound [e]. The classical diphthong had the value [oe̯], similar to (standard) English oy as in boy. It occurs most often in borrowings from Greek, rendering that language's οι (= in majuscule: ΟΙ), although it is also used in some native words such as coepi.

French

In French, œ is called e dans l'o, which means e in the o (a mnemotechnic pun used first at school, sounding like (des) œufs dans l'eau, meaning eggs in water) or sometimes o et e collés, (literally o and e glued) and is a true linguistic ligature, not just a typographic one (like the fi or fl ligatures), reflecting etymology. It is most prominent in the words mœurs ("mores"), cœur ("heart"), sœur ("sister"), œuf ("egg"), bœuf ("beef", "steer"), œuvre ("work") and œil ("eye"), in which the digraph œu, like eu, represents the sound [œ] (in other cases, like plurals œufs ("eggs") and bœufs ("steers"), it stands for [ø]In French, œ is called e dans l'o, which means e in the o (a mnemotechnic pun used first at school, sounding like (des) œufs dans l'eau, meaning eggs in water) or sometimes o et e collés, (literally o and e glued) and is a true linguistic ligature, not just a typographic one (like the fi or fl ligatures), reflecting etymology. It is most prominent in the words mœurs ("mores"), cœur ("heart"), sœur ("sister"), œuf ("egg"), bœuf ("beef", "steer"), œuvre ("work") and œil ("eye"), in which the digraph œu, like eu, represents the sound [œ] (in other cases, like plurals œufs ("eggs") and bœufs ("steers"), it stands for [ø]).

French also uses œ in direct borrowings from Latin and Greek. So, "coeliac" in French is coeliac" in French is cœliaque. In such cases, the œ is classically pronounced [e], or, sometimes, in modern pronunciation, [œ]. In some words, like phénix and économique, the etymological œ is changed to a more French é.

In French placenames of German origin (mostly in and around Alsace-Lorraine, historically Germanic-speaking areas that have changed hands between France and Germany (or Prussia before 1871) a number of times), œ replaces German ö and is pronounced [œ]. Examples include Schœneck (Moselle), Kœtzingue (Haut-Rhin), and Hœrdt (Bas-Rhin).

In all cases, œ is alphabetized as oe, rather than as a separate letter.

When oe occurs in French without the ligature, it is pronounced /wa/, just like words spelt with oi. The most common words of this type are poêle ("stove", "frying pan") and moelleux ("soft"). Note that poêle is itself an etymological spelling, with the ê reflecting its derivation from Latin patella. If the oe is not to be pronounced thus, then a diaeresis, acute or grave accent needs to be added in order to indicate that the vowels should be pronounced separately. For example, Noël, poésie, poète. The exception to this rule is when a morpheme ending in o is joined to one beginning in e, as in électroencéphalogramme, or with the prefix co-, which is always pronounced /ko/ in hiatus with the following vowel, as in coefficient ("ratio", "coefficient").

In Lombard (Scriver Lombard orthography) "œ" represents the /œ/ phoneme. For example: tegnœra (bat).

English

A number of words written with œ were borrowed from French and from Latin into English, where the œ is now rarely written. Modern American English spelling usually substitutes e, so diarrhœa has become diarrhea, although there are some exceptions, such as phoenix. In modern British English, the spellings generally keep the o but remove the ligature (e.g. diarrhoea).

The œ ~ oe ~ e is traditionally pronounced as "short E", as "long E" (which = in most dialects [[ɛ] or [e] and [i] or [iː] respectively), or as an (unrounded) unstressed vowel. These three Modern-English values interchange with one another in consistent ways, just as do the values within each of the sets from the other vowel-spellings that at the Middle English stage likewise represented non-diphthongs—except for, as was recognised particularly in certain positions by Dobson (2nd ed. = 1968: 495), a tendency whereby "... long vowels are, in later use, often substituted ... cf. Pres(ent-Day) E(nglish) [iːkənɒmik] 'economic' in place of the popular [ekənɒmik], which (latter) is in accord with the normal rules and must be regarded as the traditional and naturally-developed pronunciation ...".

There are a few words that English has recently borrowed from contemporary French. The pronunciation of these English words is generally an approximation to that of the French word (the French use [œ] or [ø] in terms of the International Phonetic Alphabet). English-speakers use a variety of substitutions for these sounds. The words involved include manœuvre, hors d'œuvre, œuvre, and œil de bœuf

However most œ words use the traditional English pronunciation of borrowings from/via pre-modern French and from/via Latin, and examples are listed in the following categories, into which they have been divided by developments in our pronunciation since Middle English.

Œ is used in the modern scholarly orthography of Old West Norse, representing the long vowel /øː/, contrasting with ø, which represents the short vowel /ø/. Sometimes, the ǿ is used instead for Old West Norse, maintaining consistency with the designation of the length of the other vowels, e.g.mǿðr "mothers". Œ is also used to express /ø/, regardless of the length of the vowel, in the modern scholarly orthography of Middle High German.

Œ is not used in modern German. Loanwords using œ are generally rendered ö, e.g. Ösophagus. A common exception is the French word Œuvre[3] and its compounds (e.g. Œuvreverzeichnis[4]). It remains used in Switzerland German, especially in the names of people and places.

Like German, Danish does not use œ, but unlike German, Danish replaces œ or œu in loan words with ø, as in økonomi "economy" from Greek via Latin œconomia or bøf "beef" from French bœuf.

Transcription

The symbol [œ] is used in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) for the open-mid front rounded vowel. This sound resembles the "œu" in the French œuf or the "ö" in the German öffnen. These contrast with French feu and German schön, which have the close-mid front rounded vowel, [ø].

The small capital variant [ɶ] represents the open front rounded vowel in the IPA. Modifier letter small ligature oe (ꟹ) is used in extensions to the International Phonetic Alphabet.[5]

The Uralic Phonetic Alphabet (UPA) includes U+1D14 Œ is not used in modern German. Loanwords using œ are generally rendered ö, e.g. Ösophagus. A common exception is the French word Œuvre[3] and its compounds (e.g. Œuvreverzeichnis[4]). It remains used in Switzerland German, especially in the names of people and places.

Like German, Danish does not use œ, but unlike German, Danish replaces œ or œu in loan words with ø, as in økonomi "economy" from Greek via Latin œconomia or bøf "beef" from French bœuf.

The symbol [œ] is used in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) for the open-mid front rounded vowel. This sound resembles the "œu" in the French œuf or the "ö" in the German öffnen. These contrast with French feu and German schön, which have the close-mid front rounded vowel, [ø].

The small capital variant [ɶ] represents the open front rounded vowel in the IPA. Modifier letter small ligature oe (ꟹ) is used in The small capital variant [ɶ] represents the open front rounded vowel in the IPA. Modifier letter small ligature oe (ꟹ) is used in extensions to the International Phonetic Alphabet.[5]

The Uralic Phonetic Alphabet (UPA) includes U+1D14 LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED OE.[6]

The Teuthonista phonetic transcription system uses several related symbols:[7]

In Unicode, the characters are encoded at U+0152 Œ LATIN CAPITAL LIGATURE OE (HTML Œ · Œ) and U+0153 œ LATIN SMALL LIGATURE OE (HTML œ · œ). In ISO-8859-15, Œ is 0xBC and œ 0xBD. In Windows-1252, at positions 0x8C and 0x9C. In Mac-Roman, they are at positions 0xCE and 0xCF.

Œ and œ were omitted from ISO-8859-1 (as well as derived standards, such as IBM code page 850), which are still widespread in internet protocols and applications. Œ is the only character in modern French that is not included in ISO-8859-1, and this has led to it becoming replaced by 'oe' in many computer-assisted publications (including printed magazines and newspapers). This was due, in part, to the lack of available characters in the French ISO/IEC 646 version that was used earlier for computing. Another reason is that œ is absent from most French keyboards, and as a result, few people know how to input it.

The above-mentioned small capital of the International Phonetic Alphabet is encoded at U+0276 ɶ ISO-8859-1 (as well as derived standards, such as IBM code page 850), which are still widespread in internet protocols and applications. Œ is the only character in modern French that is not included in ISO-8859-1, and this has led to it becoming replaced by 'oe' in many computer-assisted publications (including printed magazines and newspapers). This was due, in part, to the lack of available characters in the French ISO/IEC 646 version that was used earlier for computing. Another reason is that œ is absent from most French keyboards, and as a result, few people know how to input it.

The above-mentioned small capital of the International Phonetic Alphabet is encoded at U+0276 ɶ LATIN LETTER SMALL CAPITAL OE (HTML ɶ).