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Title: Qāf  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Sudanese Arabic, Qaf, Qaf (sura), Scrabble letter distributions, List of English words containing Q not followed by U
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This article is about the letter Qoph. For the band, see Qoph (band).

Qoph or Qop (in Modern Hebrew: Qof/Kof, Arabic: Qāf) is the nineteenth letter in many Semitic abjads or alphabets, including the Phoenician, Aramaic, Syriac, and Hebrew 'ק' or the Arabic alphabet qāf 'ق' (in abjadi order). Its sound value is an emphatic ] or ]. In Hebrew Gematria, it has the numerical value of 100.

The origin of qoph is uncertain. It is usually suggested to have originally depicted either a sewing needle, specifically the eye of a needle (Hebrew , means "hole"), or the back of a head and neck (qāf in Arabic meant "nape").[1] According to an older suggestion, it may also have been a picture of a monkey and its tail.[2]

Hebrew Qof

The OHED (Oxford Hebrew English Dictionary) gives the letter Qoph a transliteration value of 'Q' or 'K' and a final transliteration value as a 'ck'.

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

Hebrew spelling: קוֹף

Hebrew Pronunciation

In modern Israeli Hebrew the letter is also called kuf. The letter represents /k/; i.e., no distinction is made between Qof and Kaph. However, many historical groups have made that distinction, with Qof being pronounced ] by Iraqi Jews and other Mizrahim, or even as ] by Yemenite Jews under the influence of Yemeni Arabic.

Significance of Qof

Qof in gematria represents the number 100. Sarah is described in Genesis Rabba as בת ק' כבת כ' שנה לחטא, literally At Qof years of age, she was like Kaph years of age in sin (i.e. when she was 100 years old, she was as sinless as when she was 20).

Qof is used in an Israeli phrase: after a child will say something false, one might say "B'Shin Qoph, Resh" (With Shin, Qoph, Resh). These letters spell Sheqer, which is the Hebrew word for a lie. It would be akin to an English speaker saying "That's an L-I-E."

Arabic qāf

The letter ق is named قاف qāf, and is written in several ways depending on its position in the word:

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ق ـق ـقـ قـ

It is usually transliterated into Latin script as q, though some scholarly works use .[3]

According to Sibawayh, author of the first book on Arabic grammar, the letter is pronounced as a voiced phoneme.[4] As noted above, Modern Standard Arabic has the voiceless uvular plosive // as its standard pronunciation of the letter, but dialectical pronunciations vary as follows:

This variance has led to the confusion over the spelling of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi's name in Latin letters. In Western Arabic dialects the sound ] is more preserved but can also be sometimes pronounced ] or as a simple ] under Berber and French influence.

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Form of letter: ٯ ـٯ ـڧـ ڧـ

The Maghrebi style of writing qaf is different. Once the prevalent style, it is now only used in Maghribi countries for writing Qur'an with the exception of Libya which adopted the Mashriqi form. There is no possibility of confusing it with the letter fāʾ as it is written with a dot underneath (ڢ) in the Maghribi script.[5]


In Persian, the letter is pronounced ]~].

Character encodings


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