K ( /ˈkeɪ/; named kay) is the eleventh letter of the English and basic modern Latin alphabet.
History and usage
In the English language, K usually represents the voiceless velar plosive; this sound is also represented by /k/ in the International Phonetic Alphabet and X-SAMPA.
The letter K comes from the Greek letter K (kappa), which was taken from the Semitic kap, the symbol for an open hand. This in turn was likely adapted by Semites who had lived in Egypt from the hieroglyph for "hand" representing D in the Egyptian word for hand, d-r-t. The Semites evidently assigned it the sound value /k/ instead, because their word for hand started with that sound. In modern-day English slang, the word "k" is used as a substitute for the abbreviation "O.K.", or "Okay." In International Morse code it is used to mean "over".
In the earliest Latin inscriptions, the letters C, K and Q were all used to represent the sounds /k/ and /g/ (which were not differentiated in writing). Of these, Q was used to represent /k/ or /g/ before a rounded vowel, K before /a/, and C elsewhere. Later, the use of C (and its variant G) replaced most usages of K and Q. K survived only in a few fossilized forms such as Kalendae, "the calends".
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