F

All Sources -
Updated Media sources (1) About encyclopedia.com content Print Topic Share Topic
views updated

F, f [Called ‘eff’]. The 6th LETTER of the Roman ALPHABET as used for English. It originated in the Phoenician symbol waw, a vertical line forking at the top like Y, which was adapted by the Greeks into two letters: ϝ (digamma: ‘double gamma’), which represented the sound /w/, and Υ(upsilon), which represented /u/. Waw was also the ancestor of U, V, W. Digamma was lost in classical Greek, which used Φ (phi) first for aspirated /p/, later for /f/. The Etruscans, then the Romans, gave F the value it has today in English: the voiceless labio-dental fricative, which has V as its voiced equivalent. In Old English, however, f was used for both voiceless and voiced consonants. Formerly, of was not distinguished in spelling from off: the f was voiced when the syllable containing it was unstressed, and voiceless when stressed, until the two came to be distinguished (c.16c) in SPELLING and meaning as off/of, the latter retaining the sound /v/. In ScoE, of and off are often homophones, both pronounced with /f/.

F/V alternation

There is sometimes an alternation between f and v in grammatically or etymologically related words. For example, the following nouns have singular -f(e), plural -ves: calf, elf, half, knife, leaf, life, loaf, self, sheaf, shelf, thief, wife, wolf. In some cases, the plural may be either -fs or -ves: dwarfs/dwarves, hoofs/hooves. So engrained is the tendency to f/v alternation that handkerchiefs, roofs are often pronounced with /v/. Verbs from such nouns have f or v, but do not vary when inflected: to knife/knifed, to halve/halved. Other examples of v/f alternation include believe/belief, leave/left, strive/strife, five/fifth, twelve/twelfth. The f/v distinction in fox/vixen arises from the different dialects from which the words have been taken.

Double F

(1) Except in if, of and some loanwords, f is doubled in syllable-final position immediately after a single vowel letter that is pronounced short: waffle, piffle, bailiff, cliff, scoff, stuff. Single f occurs otherwise: deaf, elf, beef, belief, dwarf, golf, loaf. (2) There is doubling between vowels, especially to show the assimilation of the Latin prefixes ad-, ob-, sub-, as in affair, offer, suffer. An anomaly is single f in afraid, despite ff in the related affray.

F, GH, and PH.

(1) In some common words, the digraph gh represents /f/: cough, enough, laugh, rough, tough. AmE does not make the BrE distinction between draught/draft, having draft for both. In BrE, a draftsman draws up the wording of documents and a draughtsman prepares technical drawings. See G. (2) The digraph ph represents /f/, generally in words of Greek origin: photograph, philosophy. See P. F has, however, varied historically with ph in some words: for example, with the revival of Greek learning in the 16c, fantasy began to be written phantasy, but in the 20c has reverted to f. Occasionally, words not derived from Greek have acquired ph in place of f: nephew was once written with both f and v. AmE sulfur retains the original Latin form, whereas BrE has sulphur; the AmE form is increasingly used internationally, as for example by pure and applied chemists. In commerce, a standard ph may be replaced by f in a trade name or for special effect, or both, as with fotopost and freefone. See WRITING.

views updated

F1 / ef/ (also f) • n. (pl. Fs or F's ) 1. the sixth letter of the alphabet. ∎  denoting the next after E in a set of items, categories, etc. ∎  the sixth highest or lowest class of academic marks (also used to represent “Fail”). 2. (usu. F) Mus. the fourth note of the diatonic scale of C major. ∎  a key based on a scale with F as its keynote. F2 • abbr. ∎  Fahrenheit: 60°F. ∎  failure. ∎  false. ∎  farad(s). ∎  Chem. faraday(s). ∎  February. ∎  Fellow. ∎  female. ∎  fighter (in designations of U.S. aircraft types): the F117 Stealth fighter. ∎  forint. ∎  Franc(s). ∎  France. ∎  French. • symb. ∎  the chemical element fluorine. ∎ Physics force: F = ma.

views updated

f • abbr. ∎  farad. ∎  farthing. ∎  father. ∎  fathom. ∎  feet. ∎  Gram. feminine. ∎  female. ∎  [in comb.] (in units of measurement) femto- (10−15). ∎  filly. ∎  fine. ∎  (in textual references) folio. ∎  following. ∎  foot. ∎  form. ∎  Mus. forte. ∎  (in racing results) furlong(s). ∎  franc. ∎  from. ∎ Chem. denoting electrons and orbitals possessing three units of angular momentum: f-orbitals. • symb. ∎  focal length: apertures of f/5.6 to f/11. See also f-number. ∎  Math. a function of a specified variable: the value of f(x). ∎ Electr. frequency.

views updated

f Numismatics face value
• Music fah (in tonic sol-fa)
• symbol for femto- (prefix indicating 10-15, as in fm, femtometre)
• (or f/, f:) Photog. f-number (ratio of the focal length of a lens to its aperture, as in f8)
• (ital.) Physics, symbol for focal length
• foreign
• (ital.) Music forte (Italian; loudly)
• (ital.) Physics, symbol for frequency
• (ital.) Physical chem., symbol for fugacity
• (ital.) Maths., symbol for function (as in f(x))
• (ital.) Biochem., symbol for furanose
• Chem., Physics, indicating electron state l=3 (where l is orbital angular momentum quantum number)
• indicating the fifth vertical row of squares from the left on a chessboard

views updated

F Sixth letter of the Roman-based w European alphabet, representing a labio-dental fricative consonant. It is derived from the hook-shaped Semitic letter waw. In earlier stages of English, f between vowels sounded as v, and it is pronounced like a v in of. In some English words ending in f (such as hoof) the f changes to a v in the plural (hooves). In Welsh a single f is regularly pronounced as v, while the doubled consonant is pronounced f.

views updated

F. Note of the scale, 4th degree of natural scale of C. Thus F♭, F♭♭, F♮, F♯, F♯♯. Keys of F major and F minor, F♯ major, F♯ minor. ‘In F’ is also an indication of transposing instr. on which written note C sounds as F (e.g. hn., F tpt.). The F clef is the bass clef.

views updated

F A notation, introduced by the geneticist Sewall Wright, for the inbreeding coefficient. See also COEFFICIENT OF INBREEDING.

views updated

F Notation, introduced by the geneticist Sewall Wright, for the inbreeding coefficient. See also COEFFICIENT OF INBREEDING

views updated

F. Prefix given to numbers in the catalogue of Vivaldi's works by Antonio Fanna. Superseded by that of Ryom.

views updated

f. Abbreviation of forte (It., ‘loud’, ‘strong’), hence degrees of increasing loudness, ff (fortissimo), fff (triple forte), and sometimes more.

More From Encyclopedia.com


You Might Also Like