O or o (pronounced [ ʔo ː ] ) is the 15th letter of the Latin alphabet and one vocal. The letter O has an average frequency of 2.51 % in German texts. He is the 15th - most frequent letter in German texts.


In the proto- Semitic alphabet, the letter is the symbol of an eye. By the time the pupil changed into a bar and later disappeared completely; already in the Phoenician alphabet was a circle from the eye icon. When the Phoenicians, the letter was given the name ' Ayin (eye). The phonetic value of the letter with the Phoenicians was the voiced fricative pharyngale [ ʕ ]. In German, this phonetic value is not used, it is reminiscent of gargling, for an audio sample, see here.

The Greeks do not use that phonetic value and also took over the ' Ayin instead as letters for the vowel / o /. There were originally in Greek only a symbol of O, which was derived directly from the ' Ayin, this symbol was both [o ] and [o ː ]. In the Ionic version of the Greek writing a new letter was later introduced for [o ː ], which was a modification of the original O. The original O was named Omicron (small O) and maintained its position in the alphabet, the inserted long O sound the name Omega ( capital O ) and was at the end of the Greek alphabet.

The Etruscans took over only to the original letter O, as well as the Romans. In both alphabets it retained its appearance and the phonetic value of [ o].


In German, the O is used for two sounds:

  • The long, closed O ( IPA: / o :/ as in " boat " ) and
  • The short, open O ( IPA: / ɔ / as in " great" ).

In foreign words the closed o can also be short ( "model" / -o- / ), or the open too long ( "Wall Street" / ɔ :/ ).


" AVENTIN [ ... ] teaches it ' Rotundi spiritu oris ' and also ICKELSAMER [ ... ] ' with the athem of a round, mouth gescheubelten ' express '