Nun is the fourteenth letter of many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew נ and Arabic alphabet nūn ن (in abjadi order). It is the third letter in Thaana ( ނ), pronounced as "noonu". Its sound value is . n
The Phoenician letter gave rise to the
Greek nu (Ν), Etruscan 𐌍, Latin N, and Cyrillic Н.
Nun is thought to have come from a
pictogram of a snake (the Hebrew word for snake, nachash begins with a Nun and snake in Aramaic is nun) or eel. Some have hypothesized a hieroglyph of a fish in water for its origin (in Arabic, means large fish or whale). The Phoenician letter was named nūn nūn "fish", but the glyph has been suggested to descend from a hypothetical Proto-Canaanite naḥš "snake", based on the name in Ethiopic, ultimately from a hieroglyph representing a snake,
Middle Bronze Age alphabets). Naḥš in modern Arabic literally means "bad luck". The cognate letter in Ge'ez and descended Semitic languages of Ethiopia is nehas, which also means "brass".
Nun represents an
alveolar nasal, ( IPA: /n/), like the English letter N.
Kaph, Mem, Pe, and Tzadi, has a final form, used at the end of words. Its shape changes from נ to ן. There are also nine instances of an inverted nun ( ׆) in the Tanakh.
gematria, Nun represents the number 50. Its final form represents 700 but this is rarely used, Tav and Shin (400+300) being used instead.
As in Arabic, nun as an abbreviation can stand for
neqevah, feminine. In medieval Rabbinic writings, Nun Sophit (Final Nun) stood for "Son of" ( Hebrew ben or ibn).
Nun is also one of the seven letters which receive a special crown (called a
tagin) when written in a Sefer Torah. See Shin, Ayin, Teth, Gimmel, Zayin, and Tzadi.
In the game of
dreidel, a rolled Nun passes play to the next player with no other action.
The letter is named
, and is written is several ways depending in its position in the word: nūn
Position in word:
Some examples on its uses in
Modern Standard Arabic:
Nūn is used as a suffix indicating present-tense plural feminine nouns; for example
هِيَ تَكْتُب hiya taktub ("she writes") becomes هُنَّ تَكْتَبْنَ hunna taktabna ("they [feminine] write").
Nūn is also used as the prefix for first-person plural
imperfective/ present tense verbs. Thus هُوَ يَكْتُب huwwa yaktub ("he writes") → نَحْنُ نَكْتُب ("we write"). naḥnu naktub
HEBREW LETTER NUN
HEBREW LETTER FINAL NUN
ARABIC LETTER NOON
SYRIAC LETTER NUN
SAMARITAN LETTER NUN
UTF-8 215 160
224 160 141
E0 A0 8D
Numeric character reference נ
UGARITIC LETTER NUN
IMPERIAL ARAMAIC LETTER NUN
PHOENICIAN LETTER NUN
UTF-8 240 144 142 144
F0 90 8E 90
240 144 161 141
F0 90 A1 8D
240 144 164 141
F0 90 A4 8D
UTF-16 55296 57232
Numeric character reference 𐎐