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Gimel (letter)

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Gimel (letter)

For other uses, see Gimel (disambiguation).
"Gimmel" redirects here. For the music group, see Gimmel (music group).

Gimel is the third letter of many Semitic alphabets, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew ג, Syriac ܓ and Arabic ǧīm ج (in alphabetical order; 5th in spelling order). Its sound value in the original Phoenician and in all derived alphabets, save Arabic, is a voiced velar plosive ]; in Modern Standard Arabic, it represents ], yet other pronunciations are permissible, see below.

In its unattested Proto-Canaanite form, the letter may have been named after a weapon that was either a staff sling or a throwing stick, ultimately deriving from a Proto-Sinaitic glyph based on the hieroglyph below:


The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek gamma (Γ), the Latin C and G, and the Cyrillic Г.

Hebrew Gimel


Orthographic variants
Various Print Fonts Cursive
Serif Sans-serif Monospaced
ג ג ג

Hebrew spelling: גִּימֵל

Bertrand Russell posits that the letter's form is a conventionalized image of a camel.[1] The letter may be the shape of the walking animal's head, neck, and forelegs.

The letter gimel is one of the six letters which can receive a Dagesh. The two functions of dagesh are distinguished as either kal (light) or hazak (strong). The six letters are Bet, Gimel, Daled, Kaph, Pe, and Taf. Three of them (Bet, Kaph, and Pe) have their sound value changed in modern Hebrew from the fricative to the plosive by adding a dagesh. The other three represent the same pronunciation in modern Hebrew, but have had alternate pronunciations at other times and places. In the Temani pronunciation, Gimel represents /ɡ/, /ʒ/, or /d͡ʒ/ when with a dagesh, and /ɣ/ without a dagesh. In modern Hebrew, the combination ג׳ (gimel followed by a geresh) is used in loanwords and foreign names to denote ].


In gematria, gimel represents the number three.

It is written like a vav with a yud as a "foot", and it resembles a person in motion; symbolically, a rich man running after a poor man to give him charity, as in the Hebrew alphabet gimel directly precedes dalet, which signifies a poor or lowly man, from the Hebrew word dal.

The word gimel is related to gemul, which means 'justified repayment', or the giving of reward and punishment.

Gimmel is also one of the seven letters which receive special crowns (called tagin) when written in a Sefer Torah. See shin, ayin, teth, nun, zayin, and tsadi.

in Modern Hebrew the frequency of the usage of gimel, out of all the letters, is 1.26%.

Syriac Gamal/Gomal

Madnḫaya Gamal
Serṭo Gomal
Esṭrangela Gamal

In the Syriac alphabet, the third letter is ܓ — Gamal in eastern pronunciation, Gomal in western pronunciation (ܓܵܡܵܠ). It is one of six letters that represent two associated sounds (the others are Bet, Dalet, Kaph, Pe and Taw). When Gamal/Gomal has a hard pronunciation (qûššāyâ ) it represents ], like "goat". When Gamal/Gomal has a soft pronunciation (rûkkāḵâ ) it traditionally represents ] (ܓ݂ܵܡܵܠ), or Ghamal/Ghomal. The letter, renamed Jamal/Jomal, is written with a tilde/tie either below or within it to represent the borrowed phoneme ] (ܓ̰ܡܵܠ), which is used in Garshuni and some Neo-Aramaic languages to write loan and foreign words from Arabic or Persian.

Arabic ǧīm

The associated Arabic letter ج is named جيم ǧīm. It is written is several ways depending in its position in the word:

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ج ـج ـجـ جـ

Modern Standard Arabic (Literary Arabic) has many standard pronunciations, although in the western countries, the affricate ] is mostly taught as the standard. Differences in pronunciation occur, because speakers of Modern Standard Arabic pronounce words in accordance to their spoken variety of Arabic. In such varieties, cognate words will have consistent differences in pronunciation of this sound:

  • In northern Algeria, Iraq, limited parts of the Levant and most of the Arabian Peninsula, it is ], yet in the Arabian Peninsula it may be softened to ] in some situations.
  • In Egypt and Yemen (mostly Tihama), it is normally pronounced ] (as in Hebrew and the other Semitic languages). In some situations this pronunciation may exist in the western most of north Africa in a few words, but not when pronouncing Literary Arabic.
  • In most of the Levant and north west Africa (except north Algeria), it is ].
  • In Kuwaiti Arabic and Gulf Arabic, it is pronounced ] in the most colloquial speech, while ] and sometimes softened to ] in Literary Arabic pronunciation.
  • In some regions of Sudan and Yemen, it is pronounced ], another common reconstruction of the Classical Arabic pronunciation.
  • Other pronunciations (particularly among Bedouins) it is a palatalized ], which is a common reconstruction of the pronunciation in the Classical Arabic of early Islamic times.

Egyptians always use the letter to represent ], as well as in names and loanwords, such as جولف "golf". However, it isn't incorrect to use it in Egypt for transcribing //~// (normally pronounced ]). The opposite isn't incorrect among other Arabic language speakers.

In Perso-Arabic script, it is called jīm.

In Egypt, when there is a need to transcribe // or //, both are approximated into ] using چ. In Persian, Urdu, Sindhi, Ottoman Turkish and other languages using Perso-Arabic script, چ represents the affricate //.

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: چ ـچ ـچـ چـ

Character encodings


External links

  • The Mystical Significance of the Hebrew Letters: Gimel
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