R r
Writing systemLatin script
TypeAlphabetic and Logographic
Language of originLatin language
Phonetic usage[r]
(English variations)
Unicode codepointU+0052, U+0072
Alphabetical position18
Time period~50 to present
Descendants •  •  • ®  • Ɍ  •  • 𐍂
Sisters • Р  • ר • ر • ܪ  •  • 𐎗  • 𐡓  •  • Ռ  • ռ  • Ր  • ր  •  •
Other letters commonly used withr(x), rh
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.

R, or r, is the eighteenth 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 ar (pronounced /ˈɑːr/), plural ars,[1] or in Ireland or /ˈɔːr/.[2]

The letter ⟨r⟩ is the eighth most common letter in English and the fourth-most common consonant (after ⟨t⟩, ⟨n⟩, and ⟨s⟩).[3]

The letter ⟨r⟩ is used to form the ending "-re", which is used in certain words such as centre in some varieties of English spelling, such as British English. Canadian English also uses the "-re" ending, unlike American English, where the ending is usually replaced by "-er" (center). This does not affect pronunciation.


The name of the letter in Latin was er (/ɛr/), following the pattern of other letters representing continuants, such as F, L, M, N and S. This name is preserved in French and many other languages. In Middle English, the name of the letter changed from /ɛr/ to /ar/, following a pattern exhibited in many other words such as farm (compare French ferme) and star (compare German Stern).

In Hiberno-English the letter is called /ɒr/ or /ɔːr/, somewhat similar to oar, ore, orr.[4][5][6]

The letter R is sometimes referred to as the littera canīna (literally 'canine letter', often rendered in English as the dog's letter). This Latin term referred to the Latin R that was trilled to sound like a growling dog, a spoken style referred to as vōx canīna ('dog voice'). A good example of a trilled R is in the Spanish word for dog, perro.[7]

In William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, such a reference is made by Juliet's nurse in Act 2, scene 4, when she calls the letter R "the dog's name". The reference is also found in Ben Jonson's English Grammar.[8]


Egyptian Proto-Sinaitic Phoenician


The word prognatus as written on the Sarcophagus of Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus (280 BC) reveals the full development of the Latin R by that time; the letter P at the same time still retains its archaic shape distinguishing it from Greek or Old Italic rho.

The letter R is believed to derive ultimately from an image of a head, used in Semitic alphabets for the sound /r/ because the word for "head" was rêš (or similar) in most Semitic languages. The word became the name of the letter, as an example of acrophony.

It developed into Greek 'Ρ' ῥῶ (rhô) and Latin R. The descending diagonal stroke develops as a graphic variant in some Western Greek alphabets (writing rho as ), but it was not adopted in most Old Italic alphabets; most Old Italic alphabets show variants of their rho between a "P" and a "D" shape, but without the Western Greek descending stroke. Indeed, the oldest known forms of the Latin alphabet itself of the 7th to 6th centuries BC, in the Duenos and the Forum inscription, still write r using the "P" shape of the letter. The Lapis Satricanus inscription shows the form of the Latin alphabet around 500 BC. Here, the rounded, closing Π shape of the p and the Ρ shape of the r have become difficult to distinguish. The descending stroke of the Latin letter R has fully developed by the 3rd century BC, as seen in the Tomb of the Scipios sarcophagus inscriptions of that era. From around 50 AD, the letter P would be written with its loop fully closed, assuming the shape formerly taken by R.


18th-century example of use of r rotunda in English blackletter typography
Letter R from the alphabet by Luca Pacioli, in De divina proportione (1509)

The minuscule (lowercase) form (r) developed through several variations on the capital form. Along with Latin minuscule writing in general, it developed ultimately from Roman cursive via the uncial script of Late Antiquity into the Carolingian minuscule of the 9th century.

In handwriting, it was common not to close the bottom of the loop but continue into the leg, saving an extra pen stroke. The loop-leg stroke shortened into the simple arc used in the Carolingian minuscule and until today.

A calligraphic minuscule r, known as r rotunda (ꝛ), was used in the sequence or, bending the shape of the r to accommodate the bulge of the o (as in oꝛ as opposed to or). Later, the same variant was also used where r followed other lower case letters with a rounded loop towards the right (such as b, h, p) and to write the geminate rr (as ꝛꝛ). Use of r rotunda was mostly tied to blackletter typefaces, and the glyph fell out of use along with blackletter fonts in English language contexts mostly by the 18th century.

Insular script used a minuscule which retained two downward strokes, but which did not close the loop ("Insular r", ꞃ); this variant survives in the Gaelic type popular in Ireland until the mid-20th century (but now mostly limited to decorative purposes).

Pronunciation and use

See also: Rhotic consonant, R-colored vowel, Non-rhoticity in English, and Guttural R

Pronunciations of Rr
Languages in italics do not use the roman alphabet; the table refers to romanizations
Language Dialect(s) Pronunciation (IPA) Environment Notes
Albanian /ɾ/ rr represents a trilled /r/
Arabic Most dialects /r/
North Mesopotamian, Judeo-Iraqi /ʀ/
Egyptian /ɾ/
Aragonese /r/ Word-initially
/ɾ/ Usually rr represents a trilled /r/
Asturian /r/ Word-initially
/ɾ/ Usually rr represents a trilled /r/
Basque /r/ Word-initially
/ɾ/ Usually rr represents a trilled /r/
Catalan /r/ Word-initially
/ɾ/ Usually
Danish /ʀ/
/r/ Archaic
Dutch Most dialects /ɾ/
Brabantish, Limburgish /ʀ/
English Non-rhotic /ɹ̠/ Before vowels
silent After vowels
Rhotic /ɻ/ Before vowels
ʵ After vowels
Esperanto /ɾ/
Faroese /ɹ/
French /ʁ/
Galician /ɾ/
German Standard /ʀ/ Before vowels
/ɐ̯/ After vowels
Gutnish /ɻ/
Haitian /ɣ/
Hebrew /ʁ/
/r/ Archaic
Hopi /ʐ/
Indonesian Standard /r/
Sumatran dialects /r/ Before vowels/consonants
silent After vowels
Irish /ɾ/
/ɻʲ/ After i; before e, i
Italian /r/
Japanese Standard /ɾ/
Leonese /ɾ/
Malay Standard /r/ Before vowels/consonants
silent After vowels
Mandarin Standard /ʐ/
Manx /ɹ/
Māori /ɾ/
Norwegian Most dialects /r/
Western and Southern dialects /ʁ/
Tromsø /ʐ/
Portuguese /ʁ/ In certain environments
/ɾ/ In certain environments
Scottish Gaelic /ɾ/ Usually
/ɾʲ/ After i; before e, i
Sicilian /ɹ/
Spanish Some dialects /l/ After a vowel
Most dialects /r/ Word-initially
All dialects /ɾ/ Usually
Puerto Rican /ʁ/ Word-initially
Swedish Most dialects /ɾ/
Southern dialects /ʀ/
Turkish /ɾ/
Venetian Most dialects /ɾ/
Venice /ʀ/
Vietnamese Northern dialect /z/
Most dialects /ʐ/, /ɾ/, /r/, /ɹ/

Non-English languages

⟨r⟩ represents a rhotic consonant in many languages, as shown in the table below.

Alveolar trill [r] Listen some dialects of British English or in emphatic speech, standard Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, Galician, German in some dialects, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Czech, Javanese, Lithuanian, Latvian, Latin, Norwegian mostly in the northwest, Polish, Portuguese (traditional form), Romanian, Russian, Scots, Slovak, Swedish, Sundanese, Ukrainian, Welsh; also Catalan, Spanish and Albanian ⟨rr⟩
Alveolar approximant [ɹ] Listen English (most varieties), Dutch in some Netherlandic dialects (in specific positions of words), Faroese, Sicilian
Alveolar flap / Alveolar tap [ɾ] Listen Portuguese, Catalan, Spanish and Albanian ⟨r⟩, Turkish, Dutch, Italian, Venetian, Galician, Leonese, Norwegian, Irish, Māori
Voiced retroflex fricative [ʐ] Listen Norwegian around Tromsø; Spanish used as an allophone of /r/ in some South American accents; Hopi used before vowels, as in raana, "toad", from Spanish rana; Hanyu Pinyin transliteration of Standard Chinese.
Retroflex approximant [ɻ] Listen some English dialects (in the United States, South West England, and Dublin), Gutnish
Retroflex flap [ɽ] Listen Norwegian when followed by <d>, sometimes in Scottish English
Uvular trill [ʀ] Listen German stage standard; some Dutch dialects (in Brabant and Limburg, and some city dialects in The Netherlands), Swedish in Southern Sweden, Norwegian in western and southern parts, Venetian only in Venice area.
Voiced uvular fricative [ʁ] Listen North Mesopotamian Arabic, Judeo-Iraqi Arabic, German, Danish, French, standard European Portuguese ⟨rr⟩, standard Brazilian Portuguese ⟨rr⟩, Puerto Rican Spanish ⟨rr⟩ and 'r-' in western parts, Norwegian in western and southern parts.

Other languages may use the letter ⟨r⟩ in their alphabets (or Latin transliterations schemes) to represent rhotic consonants different from the alveolar trill. In Haitian Creole, it represents a sound so weak that it is often written interchangeably with ⟨w⟩, e.g. 'Kweyol' for 'Kreyol'.

Brazilian Portuguese has a great number of allophones of /ʁ/ such as [χ], [h], [ɦ], [x], [ɣ], [ɹ] and [r], the latter three ones can be used only in certain contexts ([ɣ] and [r] as ⟨rr⟩; [ɹ] in the syllable coda, as an allophone of /ɾ/ according to the European Portuguese norm and /ʁ/ according to the Brazilian Portuguese norm). Usually at least two of them are present in a single dialect, such as Rio de Janeiro's [ʁ], [χ], [ɦ] and, for a few speakers, [ɣ].

Other systems

The International Phonetic Alphabet uses several variations of the letter to represent the different rhotic consonants; r represents the alveolar trill.

Related characters

Descendants and related characters in the Latin alphabet

Calligraphic variants in the Latin alphabet

Ancestors and siblings in other alphabets

Abbreviations, signs and symbols


Character information
Preview R r
Encodings decimal hex dec hex
Unicode 82 U+0052 114 U+0072
UTF-8 82 52 114 72
Numeric character reference &#82; &#x52; &#114; &#x72;
EBCDIC family 217 D9 153 99
ASCII 1 82 52 114 72
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-1235
Unified English Braille

See also

a tricolor flag with vertical bands for red, yellow and green. There is a black R on the yellow band.
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag This flag of Rwanda (September 25, 1961 – October 24, 2001) featured an R to distinguish it from the flag of Guinea


  1. ^ "R", Oxford English Dictionary 2nd edition (1989); "ar", op. cit
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-09-15. Retrieved 2017-09-15.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Frequency Table". Math.cornell.edu. Archived from the original on 2 November 2017. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  4. ^ "Analysis of selected contemporary Irish dialects" (PDF). Digilib.k.utb.cz. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 September 2017. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  5. ^ Hogarty, Steve (November 11, 2013). "Losing My Voice - This Happened to Me". Medium. Archived from the original on July 15, 2019. Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  6. ^ "Mind your 'P's and 'Q's – ore you'll get into trouble!". Irish with Ian. December 19, 2018. Archived from the original on July 15, 2019. Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  7. ^ "A Word A Day: Dog's letter". Wordsmith.org. Archived from the original on 2012-03-14. Retrieved 2012-01-17.
  8. ^ Shakespeare, William; Horace Howard Furness; Frederick Williams (1913). Romeo and Juliet. Lippincott. p. 189. ISBN 9780140620931.
  9. ^ a b Constable, Peter (2003-09-30). "L2/03-174R2: Proposal to Encode Phonetic Symbols with Middle Tilde in the UCS" (PDF). Unicode.org. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-10-11. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  10. ^ Everson, Michael (2019-05-05). "L2/19-075R: Proposal to add six phonetic characters for Scots to the UCS" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-06-13. Retrieved 2020-03-17.
  11. ^ Constable, Peter (2004-04-19). "L2/04-132 Proposal to add additional phonetic characters to the UCS" (PDF). Unicode.org. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-10-11. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  12. ^ a b c Miller, Kirk (2020-07-11). "L2/20-125R: Unicode request for expected IPA retroflex letters and similar letters with hooks" (PDF).
  13. ^ 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).
  14. ^ Miller, Kirk; Ashby, Michael (2020-11-08). "L2/20-252R: Unicode request for IPA modifier-letters (a), pulmonic" (PDF).
  15. ^ Everson, Michael; et al. (2002-03-20). "L2/02-141: Uralic Phonetic Alphabet characters for the UCS" (PDF). Unicode.org. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-02-19. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  16. ^ a b c 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). Unicode.org. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-10-11. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  17. ^ Miller, Kirk; Rees, Neil (2021-07-16). "L2/21-156: Unicode request for legacy Malayalam" (PDF).
  18. ^ Lemonen, Therese; Ruppel, Klaas; Kolehmainen, Erkki I.; Sandström, Caroline (2006-01-26). "L2/06-036: Proposal to encode characters for Ordbok över Finlands svenska folkmål in the UCS" (PDF). Unicode.org. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-07-06. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  19. ^ Everson, Michael; West, Andrew (2020-10-05). "L2/20-268: Revised proposal to add ten characters for Middle English to the UCS" (PDF).