L l
Writing systemLatin script
TypeAlphabetic and logographic
Language of originLatin language
Phonetic usage[l]
[w] [ʟ]
Unicode codepointU+004C, U+006C
Alphabetical position12
Time period~−700 to present
Descendants • ɮ
 • £
 • Ł
 • L


Other letters commonly used withl(x), lj, ll, ly
Writing directionLeft-to-right
This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and ⟨ ⟩, see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.

L, or l, is the twelfth letter of the Latin alphabet, used in the modern English alphabet, the alphabets of other western European languages and others worldwide. Its name in English is el (pronounced /ˈɛl/ EL), plural els.[1]


Egyptian hieroglyph Phoenician
Western Greek
Latin L

Lamedh may have come from a pictogram of an ox goad or cattle prod. Some have suggested a shepherd's staff.[2]

Typographic variants

"ℓ" redirects here. For the azimuthal quantum number, see Azimuthal quantum number.

In most sans-serif typefaces, the lowercase letter ell ⟨l⟩, written l, may be difficult to distinguish from the uppercase letter "eye" I; in some serif typefaces, the glyph l may be confused with the glyph 1, the digit one. To avoid such confusion, some newer computer fonts (such as Trebuchet MS) have a finial, a curve to the right at the bottom of the lowercase letter ell.

Another means of reducing such confusion is to use symbol , which is a cursive, handwriting-style lowercase form of the letter "ell"; this form is seen in European road signs and advertisements. In Japan, for example, this is the symbol for the liter. (The International Committee for Weights and Measures recommends using L or l for the liter,[3] without specifying a typeface.) In Unicode, the cursive form is encoded as U+2113 SCRIPT SMALL L from the "letter-like symbols" block. Unicode encodes an explicit symbol as U+1D4C1 𝓁 MATHEMATICAL SCRIPT SMALL L.[4] The TeX syntax <math>\ell</math> renders it as . In mathematical formulas, an italic form () of the script ℓ is the norm.

Sometimes seen in Web typography, a serif font for the lowercase letter ell, such as l, in otherwise sans-serif text was used.

In the blackletter type used in England until the seventeenth century,[5][a] the letter L is rendered as .

Use in writing systems

Pronunciation of ⟨l⟩ by language
Orthography Phonemes
Standard Chinese (Pinyin) /l/
English /l/, silent
French /l/, silent
German /l/
Portuguese /l/
Spanish /l/
Turkish /l/, /ɫ/


In English orthography, ⟨l⟩ usually represents the phoneme /l/, which can have several sound values, depending on the speaker's accent, and whether it occurs before or after a vowel. In Received Pronunciation, the alveolar lateral approximant (the sound represented in IPA by lowercase [l]) occurs before a vowel, as in lip or blend, while the velarized alveolar lateral approximant (IPA [ɫ]) occurs in bell and milk. This velarization does not occur in many European languages that use ⟨l⟩; it is also a factor making the pronunciation of ⟨l⟩ difficult for users of languages that lack ⟨l⟩ or have different values for it, such as Japanese or some southern dialects of Chinese. A medical condition or speech impediment restricting the pronunciation of ⟨l⟩ is known as lambdacism.

In English orthography, ⟨l⟩ is often silent in such words as walk or could (though its presence can modify the preceding vowel letter's value), and it is usually silent in such words as palm and psalm; however, there is some regional variation. L is the eleventh most frequently used letter in the English language.

Other languages

⟨l⟩ usually represents the sound [l] or some other lateral consonant.

Common digraphs include ⟨ll⟩, which has a value identical to ⟨l⟩ in English, but has the separate value voiceless alveolar lateral fricative (IPA [ɬ]) in Welsh, where it can appear in an initial position. In Spanish, ⟨ll⟩ represents /ʎ/ ([ʎ], [j], [ʝ], [ɟʝ], or [ʃ], depending on dialect).

A palatal lateral approximant or palatal ⟨l⟩ (IPA [ʎ]) occurs in many languages, and is represented by ⟨gli⟩ in Italian, ⟨ll⟩ in Spanish and Catalan, ⟨lh⟩ in Portuguese, and ⟨ļ⟩ in Latvian.

In Turkish, ⟨l⟩ generally represents /l/, but represents /ɫ/ before ⟨a⟩, ⟨ı⟩, ⟨o⟩, or ⟨u⟩.

In Washo, lower-case ⟨l⟩ represents a typical [l] sound, while upper-case ⟨L⟩ represents a voiceless [l̥] sound, a bit like double ⟨ll⟩ in Welsh.

Other systems

The International Phonetic Alphabet uses ⟨l⟩ to represent the voiced alveolar lateral approximant and a small capsʟ⟩ to represent the voiced velar lateral approximant.

Other uses

Main article: L (disambiguation)

Related characters

Descendants and related characters in the Latin alphabet

Derived signs, symbols and abbreviations

Ancestors and siblings in other alphabets

Other representations


Character information
Preview L l
Encodings decimal hex dec hex dec hex dec hex
Unicode 76 U+004C 108 U+006C 65324 U+FF2C 65356 U+FF4C
UTF-8 76 4C 108 6C 239 188 172 EF BC AC 239 189 140 EF BD 8C
Numeric character reference &#76; &#x4C; &#108; &#x6C; &#65324; &#xFF2C; &#65356; &#xFF4C;
EBCDIC family 211 D3 147 93
ASCII 1 76 4C 108 6C
1 Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.


NATO phonetic Morse code
  ▄ ▄▄▄ ▄ ▄ 

Signal flag Flag semaphore American manual alphabet (ASL fingerspelling) British manual alphabet (BSL fingerspelling) Braille dots-123
Unified English Braille


  1. ^ Blackletter persisted in Germany until the early 1940s. See Antiqua–Fraktur dispute
  2. ^ For example, see the Diary of Samuel Pepys for 31 December 1661: " I suppose myself to be worth about 500l. clear in the world, ..."[6]


  1. ^ "L" Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989) Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged. (1993); "el", "ells", op. cit.
  2. ^ "Ancient Hebrew Research Center". Archived from the original on 3 January 2015. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  3. ^ a b "The International System of Units (SI) | The SI brochure, 9th edition, 2019" (PDF). December 2022. Retrieved 23 July 2023. The litre, and the symbol lower-case l, were adopted by the CIPM in 1879 (PV, 1879, 41). The alternative symbol, capital L, was adopted by the 16th CGPM (1979, Resolution 6; CR, 101 and Metrologia, 1980, 16, 56-57) in order to avoid the risk of confusion between the letter l (el) and the numeral 1 (one).
  4. ^ The Unicode Standard, Version 15.0, Chapter 22
  5. ^ Dowding, Geoffrey (1962). An introduction to the history of printing types; an illustrated summary of main stages in the development of type design from 1440 up to the present day: an aid to type face identification. Clerkenwell [London]: Wace. p. 5.
  6. ^ Pepys, Samuel (31 December 2004). "Tuesday 31 December 1661". The Diary of Samuel Pepys. Archived from the original on 24 November 2021.
  7. ^ Gordon, Arthur E. (1983). Illustrated Introduction to Latin Epigraphy. University of California Press. pp. 44. ISBN 9780520038981. Retrieved 3 October 2015. roman numerals.
  8. ^ "Foire aux questions sur l'horlogerie et les montres" [Frequently asked questions about watches and clocks]. horlogerie-suisse.com (in French). Archived from the original on 2022-01-21. Retrieved 2022-01-18. Par tradition ancestrale, les horlogers n'utilisent pas le millimètre mais la ligne pour désigner le diamètre d'encageage d'un mouvement. [By ancestral tradition, watchmakers do not use the millimeter but the line to designate the casing diameter of a movement]
  9. ^ H. P. Lehmann, X. Fuentes-Arderiu, and L. F. Bertello (1996): "Glossary of terms in quantities and units in Clinical Chemistry (IUPAC-IFCC Recommendations 1996)"; page 963, item "Avogadro constant". Pure and Applied Chemistry, volume 68, issue 4, pages 957–1000. doi:10.1351/pac199668040957
  10. ^ Miller, Kirk; Ashby, Michael (2020-11-08). "L2/20-252R: Unicode request for IPA modifier-letters (a), pulmonic" (PDF).
  11. ^ Miller, Kirk; Ball, Martin (2020-07-11). "L2/20-116R: Expansion of the extIPA and VoQS" (PDF).
  12. ^ a b c Anderson, Deborah (2020-12-07). "L2/21-021: Reference doc numbers for L2/20-266R "Consolidated code chart of proposed phonetic characters" and IPA etc. code point and name changes" (PDF).
  13. ^ Everson, Michael; et al. (2002-03-20). "L2/02-141: Uralic Phonetic Alphabet characters for the UCS" (PDF).
  14. ^ Ruppel, Klaas; Aalto, Tero; Everson, Michael (2009-01-27). "L2/09-028: Proposal to encode additional characters for the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet" (PDF).
  15. ^ Cook, Richard; Everson, Michael (2001-09-20). "L2/01-347: Proposal to add six phonetic characters to the UCS" (PDF).
  16. ^ Everson, Michael (2006-08-06). "L2/06-266: Proposal to add Latin letters and a Greek symbol to the UCS" (PDF).
  17. ^ Miller, Kirk; Rees, Neil (2021-07-16). "L2/21-156: Unicode request for legacy Malayalam" (PDF).
  18. ^ a b c d Constable, Peter (2004-04-19). "L2/04-132 Proposal to add additional phonetic characters to the UCS" (PDF).
  19. ^ a b Miller, Kirk (2020-07-11). "L2/20-125R: Unicode request for expected IPA retroflex letters and similar letters with hooks" (PDF).
  20. ^ Everson, Michael; Baker, Peter; Emiliano, António; Grammel, Florian; Haugen, Odd Einar; Luft, Diana; Pedro, Susana; Schumacher, Gerd; Stötzner, Andreas (2006-01-30). "L2/06-027: Proposal to add Medievalist characters to the UCS" (PDF).
  21. ^ Everson, Michael; Dicklberger, Alois; Pentzlin, Karl; Wandl-Vogt, Eveline (2011-06-02). "L2/11-202: Revised proposal to encode "Teuthonista" phonetic characters in the UCS" (PDF).
  22. ^ Everson, Michael; Baker, Peter; Emiliano, António; Grammel, Florian; Haugen, Odd Einar; Luft, Diana; Pedro, Susana; Schumacher, Gerd; Stötzner, Andreas (2006-01-30). "L2/06-027: Proposal to add Medievalist characters to the UCS" (PDF).