See also

A macron (/ˈmækrɒn, ˈm-/ MAK-ron, MAY-) is a diacritical mark: it is a straight bar ¯ placed above a letter, usually a vowel. Its name derives from Ancient Greek μακρόν (makrón) 'long' because it was originally used to mark long or heavy syllables in Greco-Roman metrics. It now more often marks a long vowel. In the International Phonetic Alphabet, the macron is used to indicate a mid-tone; the sign for a long vowel is instead a modified triangular colonː⟩.

The opposite is the breve ⟨˘⟩, which marks a short or light syllable or a short vowel.


Syllable weight

In Greco-Roman metrics and in the description of the metrics of other literatures, the macron was introduced and is still widely used in dictionaries and educational materials to mark a long (heavy) syllable. Even relatively recent classical Greek and Latin dictionaries[1] are still concerned with indicating only the length (weight) of syllables; that is why most still do not indicate the length of vowels in syllables that are otherwise metrically determined. Many textbooks about Ancient Rome and Greece use the macron, even if it was not actually used at that time (an apex was used if vowel length was marked in Latin).

Vowel length

The following languages or transliteration systems use the macron to mark long vowels:


The following languages or alphabets use the macron to mark tones:


Sometimes the macron marks an omitted n or m, like the tilde:

Letter extension

"p̄" redirects here. For the subatomic particle, see Antiproton.

"n̄" redirects here. For the subatomic particle, see Antineutron.

In romanizations of Hebrew, the macron below is typically used to mark the begadkefat consonant lenition. However, for typographical reasons a regular macron is used on p and g instead: p̄, ḡ.

The macron is used in the orthography of a number of vernacular languages of the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, particularly those first transcribed by Anglican missionaries. The macron has no unique value, and is simply used to distinguish between two different phonemes.

Thus, in several languages of the Banks Islands, including Mwotlap,[16] the simple m stands for /m/, but an m with a macron () is a rounded labial-velar nasal /ŋ͡mʷ/; while the simple n stands for the common alveolar nasal /n/, an n with macron () represents the velar nasal /ŋ/; the vowel ē stands for a (short) higher /ɪ/ by contrast with plain e /ɛ/; likewise ō /ʊ/ contrasts with plain o /ɔ/.

In Hiw orthography, the consonant stands for the prestopped velar lateral approximant /ᶢʟ/.[17] In Araki, the same symbol encodes the alveolar trill /r/ – by contrast with r, which encodes the alveolar flap /ɾ/.[18]

In Bislama (orthography before 1995), Lamenu and Lewo, a macron is used on two letters m̄ p̄.[19][20] represents /mʷ/, and represents /pʷ/. The orthography after 1995 (which has no diacritics) has these written as mw and pw.

In Kokota, is used for the velar stop /ɡ/, but g without macron is the voiced velar fricative /ɣ/.[21]

In Marshallese, a macron is used on four letters – ā n̄ ō ū – whose pronunciations differ from the unmarked a n o u. Marshallese uses a vertical vowel system with three to four vowel phonemes, but traditionally their allophones have been written out, so vowel letters with macron are used for some of these allophones. Though the standard diacritic involved is a macron, there are no other diacritics used above letters, so in practice other diacritics can and have been used in less polished writing or print, yielding nonstandard letters like ã ñ õ û, depending on displayability of letters in computer fonts.

In Obolo, the simple n stands for the common alveolar nasal /n/, while an n with macron () represents the velar nasal /ŋ/.[22]

Other uses

Also, in some instances, a diacritic will be written like a macron, although it represents another diacritic whose standard form is different:


Main articles: overline, bar (diacritic), scribal abbreviation, and medical abbreviation

Continuing previous Latin scribal abbreviations, letters with combining macron can be used in various European languages to represent the overlines indicating various medical abbreviations, particularly including:

Note, however, that abbreviations involving the letter h take their macron halfway up the ascending line rather than at the normal height for unicode macrons and overlines: ħ. This is separately encoded in Unicode with the symbols using bar diacritics and appears shorter than other macrons in many fonts.

Mathematics and science

The overline is a typographical symbol similar to the macron, used in a number of ways in mathematics and science. For example, it is used to represent complex conjugation:

and to represent a line segment in geometry (e.g., ), sample means in statistics (e.g., ) and negations in logic.[24] It is also used in Hermann–Mauguin notation.[how?]


In music, the tenuto marking resembles the macron.

The macron is also used in German lute tablature to distinguish repeating alphabetic characters.

Letters with macron

Technical notes

The Unicode Standard encodes combining and precomposed macron characters:

Description Macrons
Character Unicode HTML Character Unicode HTML
Combining Spacing
U+0304 ̄ ¯
U+00AF ¯
U+035E ͞ ˉ
U+02C9 ˉ
(see macron below)
Upper case Lower case
Ā U+0100 Ā ā U+0101 ā
Ǣ U+01E2 Ǣ ǣ U+01E3 ǣ
Ē U+0112 Ē ē U+0113 ē
U+1E20 Ḡ U+1E21 ḡ
Ī U+012A Ī ī U+012B ī
Ō U+014C Ō ō U+014D ō
Ū U+016A Ū ū U+016B ū
Ȳ U+0232 Ȳ ȳ U+0233 ȳ
Diaeresis Ǟ U+01DE Ǟ ǟ U+01DF ǟ
Ȫ U+022A Ȫ ȫ U+022B ȫ
Ǖ U+01D5 Ǖ ǖ U+01D6 ǖ
U+1E7A Ṻ U+1E7B ṻ
Dot above Ǡ U+01E0 Ǡ ǡ U+01E1 ǡ
Ȱ U+0230 Ȱ ȱ U+0231 ȱ
Dot below U+1E38 Ḹ U+1E39 ḹ
U+1E5C Ṝ U+1E5D ṝ
Ogonek Ǭ U+01EC Ǭ ǭ U+01ED ǭ
Tilde Ȭ U+022C Ȭ ȭ U+022D ȭ
Acute U+1E16 Ḗ U+1E17 ḗ
U+1E52 Ṓ U+1E53 ṓ
Grave U+1E14 Ḕ U+1E15 ḕ
U+1E50 Ṑ U+1E51 ṑ
Ӣ U+04E2 Ӣ ӣ U+04E3 ӣ
Ӯ U+04EE Ӯ ӯ U+04EF ӯ
U+1FB9 Ᾱ U+1FB1 ᾱ
U+1FD9 Ῑ U+1FD1 ῑ
U+1FE9 Ῡ U+1FE1 ῡ

Macron-related Unicode characters not included in the table above:

In LaTeX a macron is created with the command "\=", for example: M\=aori for Māori. In OpenOffice, if the extension Compose Special Characters is installed,[27] a macron may be added by following the letter with a hyphen and pressing the user's predefined shortcut key for composing special characters. A macron may also be added by following the letter with the character's four-digit hex-code, and pressing the user's predefined shortcut key for adding unicode characters.

See also


  1. ^ P.G.W. Glare (ed.), Oxford Latin Dictionary (Oxford at the Clarendon Press 1990), p. xxiii: Vowel quantities. Normally, only long vowels in a metrically indeterminate position are marked.
  2. ^ Годечкият Говор от Михаил Виденов,Издателство на българската академия на науките,София, 1978, p. 19: ...характерни за всички селища от годечкия говор....Подобни случай са характерни и за книжовния език-Ст.Стойков, Увод във фонетиката на българския език , стр. 151.. (in Bulgarian)
  3. ^ Iluta Dalbiņa un Inese Lāčauniece (2001). Latviešu valoda vidusskolām. Rīga: RaKa. p. 110. ISBN 978-9984-46-130-4.
  4. ^ Buse, Jasper with Taringa, Raututi (Bruce Biggs and Rangi Moekaʻa, eds.). (1996). Cook Islands Maori Dictionary with English-Cook Islands Maori Finder List. Avarua, Rarotonga: The Ministry of Education, Government of the Cook Islands; The School of Oriental and African Studies, The University of London; The Institute of Pacific Studies, The University of the South Pacific; The Centre for Pacific Studies, The University of Auckland; Pacific Linguistics, The Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University.
  5. ^ Carpentier, Tai Tepuaoterā Turepu and Beaumont, Clive. (1995). Kai kōrero: A Cook Islands Maori Language Coursebook. Auckland, New Zealand: Pasifika Press.
  6. ^ "Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori". www.tetaurawhiri.govt.nz. Archived from the original on 2015-01-13. Retrieved 2008-09-02.
  7. ^ "Macrons". kupu.maori.nz. Retrieved 2017-10-08.
  8. ^ Sperlich, Wolfgang B. (ed.) (1997). Tohi vagahau Niue – Niue language dictionary: Niuen-English with English-Niuean finderlist. Honolulu: University of Hawaii at Manoa Department of Linguistics.
  9. ^ Académie Tahitienne. (1986). Grammaire de la langue tahitienne. Papeete, Tahiti: Fare Vānaʻa.
  10. ^ Académie Tahitienne. (1999). Dictionnaire tahitien-français: Faʻatoro parau tahiti-farāni. Papeete, Tahiti: Fare Vānaʻa.
  11. ^ LeMaître, Yves. (1995). Lexique du tahitien contemporain: tahitien-français français-tahitien. Paris: Éditions de l'IRD (ex-Orstom).
  12. ^ Montillier, Pierre. (1999). Te reo tahiti ʻāpi: Dictionnaire du tahitien nouveau et biblique. Papeete, Tahiti: STP Multipress.
  13. ^ Jaussen, Mgr Tepano. (2001). Dictionnaire de la langue Tahitienne (10ème édition, revue et augmentée). Papeete, Tahiti: Société des Études Océaniennes.
  14. ^ Académie Tahitienne (6 January 2003). Graphie et graphies de la langue tahitienne.
  15. ^ Simanu, Aumua Mata'itusi. 'O si Manu a Ali'i: A Text for the Advanced Study of Samoan Language and Culture
  16. ^ François, Alexandre (2005), "A typological overview of Mwotlap, an Oceanic language of Vanuatu", Linguistic Typology, 9 (1): 115–146 [118], doi:10.1515/lity.2005.9.1.115, S2CID 55878308
  17. ^ François, Alexandre (2010), "Phonotactics and the prestopped velar lateral of Hiw: resolving the ambiguity of a complex segment", Phonology, 27 (3): 393–434, doi:10.1017/s0952675710000205, S2CID 62628417, p. 421.
  18. ^ François, Alexandre (2008). "The alphabet of Araki".
  19. ^ "Letter Database". eki.ee.
  20. ^ Smith, Rachel E. (2016). "The Goal of the Good House": Seasonal Work and Seeking a Good Life in Lamen and Lamen Bay, Epi, Vanuatu (PDF) (PhD). University of Manchester. p. 439.
  21. ^ Palmer, Bill. A grammar of the Kokota language, Santa Isabel, Solomon Islands Archived 2009-12-29 at the Wayback Machine. PhD dissertation.
  22. ^ OLBTO (2011) "Reading and Writing Obolo: Obolo Alphabet" in "A Workshop Manual for Teaching Obolo." Obolo Language and Bible Translation Organisation (OLBTO). p.1
  23. ^ Cappelli, Adriano (1961). Manuali Hoepli Lexicon Abbreviature Dizionario Di Abbreviature Latine ed Italiane. Milan: Editore Ulrico Hoepli Milano. p. 256.
  24. ^ Weisstein, Eric W. "Macron". mathworld.wolfram.com. Retrieved 2020-08-24.
  25. ^ "N3048: Proposal to encode two combining characters in the UCS" (PDF). ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2. 2006-03-02.
  26. ^ "N3861: Resolutions of the WG 2 meeting 48 held in Mountain View, CA, USA, 2006-04-24/27" (PDF). ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2. 2006-04-27.
  27. ^ "Compose Special Characters". openoffice.org.