Þ (capital Þ, lower-case þ) or Thorn or Þorn is a letter in the Anglo-Saxon and Icelandic alphabets. It was also used in medieval Scandinavia, but was later replaced with th. The letter originated from the rune ᚦ, called "thorn" in Anglo-Saxon and Thurs ("giant") in Scandinavia.
It has the sound of either a voiceless interdental fricative, like th (such as in the English word "thick") or the voiced form (such as in English "the"), though in Icelandic the usage is restricted to the former, and the voiced form is represented in the letter ð.
Þorn in English
Þ was used in writing Middle English before the invention of the printing press. William Caxton, the first printer in England, brought with him type made in Continental Europe, which lacked thorn, yogh, and eth. He substituted the letter Y in place of thorn. This was not an arbitrary choice of Caxton's: in some manuscripts of the earlier 1400s (such as The Boke of Margery Kempe) the letters Y and thorn were identical. The is spelled Y-E throughout the King James Bible. In fact Y for thorn is still seen on gravestones and in the stock prefix "ye olde". The latter is often used for quaint store signs, such as "ye olde candies shoppe" and in the name of theme pubs to indicate things of mediaeval extraction or things which are English, both indicating, perhaps, a Deep England, half-timbered feel. The construction Ye Olde English Pubbe is the usual example, a standard bar name akin to The Red Lion.
The definitive article spelled with thorn is often jocularly or mistakenly pronounced "yee" or mistaken for the genitive case of you.
While very rare, it is used infrequently in some modern English word games to replace the "th" with a single letter.
- Michael Everson's essay On the status of the Latin letter þorn and of its sorting order
- Ye Olde English Sayings
- Ye Olde England Inn, a mock-Tudor hotel complete with references to Dickens and warm beer.
- Thorn and eth: how to get them right
|Latin alphabet:||Aa | Bb | Cc | Dd | Ee | Ff | Gg | Hh | Ii | Jj | Kk | Ll | Mm | Nn | Oo | Pp | Qq | Rr | Ss | Tt | Uu | Vv | Ww | Xx | Yy | Zz|
|Alphabet extensions:||Ææ | Ðð | Ǳǳ | Ǆǆ | Əə | Ȝȝ | Ƕƕ | ĸ | Ǉǉ | LLll | Ǌǌ | Œœ | Ȣȣ | | ſ | ß | Þþ | Ƿƿ | Ĳĳ|
|Runic alphabet | Rune poems|
|Elder Fuþark: ᚠ f | ᚢ u | ᚦ þ | ᚨ a | ᚱ r | ᚲ k | ᚷ g | ᚹ w | ᚺ h | ᚾ n | ᛁ i | ᛃ j |ᛇ ï | ᛈ p | ᛉ z | ᛊ s |ᛏ t | ᛒ b | ᛖ e | ᛗ m | ᛚ l | ᛜ ng | ᛞ d | ᛟ o|