Letter Y


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Youthful yogis yoke yawing yacht


Brainstorm sketch


Sketch details

y Yellowing, yarn, yolk Yellow Pages Youthful yogis yell at yawing Y-front yachts yopping yawning yucca Yawning yucca yawps, yopping yowling yogis youthfully yoking yawing yacht

First digital mockup



Initial mockup


Image development

Yolk yogis

Using egg yolk and water colour brushes.

For experiments with egg yolk drawings see:

Yolk drawing

Yarn Yuccas

Yellow pages

Developing the Photoshop composite


Letter Y in typefaces shipped with Illustrator

The only typeface on Type kit is ‘Yrsa’ in light, regular, medium, semibold and bold.

Free fonts beginning with Y from FontsSpace

I particularly like:

Yellow peas – like yawing yachts:

Yellow umbrella:

Google images

Sketchfont letter – I really like the dreamy feel of this
Model for yawing Y Front yachts







Wikipedia article


The letter Y in English is both a vowel and a consonant.

The oldest direct ancestor of English letter Y was the Semitic letter waw, from which also come F, U, V, and W. The Greek and Latin alphabets developed from the Phoenician form of this early alphabet.

 Left: An early Semitic version of the letter waw.

 Right: The later, Phoenician version of waw.


Modern English has four uses:

  • for ‘upsilon’ in Greek loan-words (system: Greek σύστημα). Because it was not a native sound of Latin, it was usually pronounced /u/ or /i/.
  • as a replacement for I: at the end of a word (rye, city) in place of I before the ending -ing (dy-ing, justify-ing). In Old English there was a native /y/ sound, and so all of Latin U, Y and I were used to represent distinct vowels. But by the time of Middle English, /y/ had lost its roundedness and became identical to I (/iː/and /ɪ/). Therefore, many words that originally had I were spelled with Y, and vice versa.
  • as a consonant (you). This is possibly influenced by the Middle English letter yogh (Ȝȝ) which developed from Semitic gimel, whose other sound, /ɣ/, came to be written gh in Middle English.)


Summary of the sources of Modern English “Y”
Phoenician Greek Latin  English (approximate times of changes)
Old Middle Modern
Phoenician waw.svg Upsilon uc lc.svg V → U → V/U/UU → V/U/W
Y → Y (vowel /y/) Y (vowel /i/) Y (vowels)
Phoenician gimel.svg Gamma uc lc.svg C →
G → Ȝ (consonantal /g/ or /ɣ/) → G →
consonantal Y /j/ Y (consonant)



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