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U , u (orig. V, v, a modification of the Greek Υ, Marc. Vict. p. 2459 P.), the twentieth letter of the Latin alphabet (
I.i and j being counted as one), a vowel, which was early distinguished by the old grammarians from the consonant V, though represented by the same sign; v. the letter V. The long u corresponded in sound to the Greek ου, and to the German and Italian u (Engl. oo); the short u seems to have been an obscure sound resembling the German ü and the French u; hence ŭ sometimes represented the Greek υ, as in fuga from φυγή, cuminum from κύμινον, etc.; and sometimes was exchanged with the Latin i, as in optimus and optumus, carnufex and carnifex, satura and satira, in the old inscriptions CAPVTALIS and NOMINVS LATINI, in the emperor Augustus's pronunciation of simus for sumus, etc.; v. the letter I. For the affinity of u with o and with v, v. under those letters. U inserted in Alcumena, Alcumaeo, Æsculapius, Tecumessa, drachuma al.; v. Ritschl in Rhein. Mus. Neue Folge, 8, p. 475 sq.; 9, p. 480; and cf. the letters A and O.—As an abbreviation, V. (as the sign of the vowel u) stands for uti, so V. V. uti voverant; and especially for urbs (i. e. Roma); as, U. C. (urbis conditae), or A. U. C. (ab urbe conditā). For its meanings when used as a sign of the consonant V, v. under the letter V fin.
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