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Title: Wynn  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Runes, Thorn (letter), Vend (letter), Yngvi, Elder Futhark
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Shape Elder Futhark Futhorc
Transliteration w
Transcription w
IPA [w]
Position in rune-row 8

Wynn (Ƿ ƿ) (also spelled wen, ƿynn, or ƿen) is a letter of the Old English alphabet, where it is used to represent the sound /w/.

While the earliest Old English texts represent this phoneme with the digraph uu, scribes soon borrowed the rune wynn for this purpose. It remained a standard letter throughout the Anglo-Saxon era, eventually falling out of use (perhaps under the influence of French orthography) during the Middle English period, circa 1300.[1] It was replaced with uu once again, from which the modern <w> developed.

The denotation of the rune is "joy, bliss" known from the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poems[2]

Ƿenne bruceþ, ðe can ƿeana lyt
sares and sorge and him sylfa hæf
blæd and blysse and eac byrga geniht.
[Lines 22-24 in The Anglo-Saxon Runic Poem]
Who uses it knows no pain,
sorrow nor anxiety, and he himself has
prosperity and bliss, and also enough shelter. [Translation slightly modified from Dickins (1915)]

It is not continued in the Younger Futhark, but in the Gothic alphabet, the letter 𐍅 w is called winja, allowing a Proto-Germanic reconstruction of the rune's name as *wunjô "joy".

It is one of the two runes (along with þ) to have been borrowed into the English alphabet (or any extension of the Latin alphabet). A modified version of the letter ƿynn called Vend was used briefly in Old Norse for the sounds /u/, /v/, and /w/.

As with þ, ƿynn was revived in modern times for the printing of Old English texts, but since the early 20th century the usual practice has been to substitute the modern w instead due to ƿynn's visual resemblance to P.

Wynn in Unicode and HTML Entities

Capital wynn (left), lowercase wynn (right)
  • U+01F7 Ƿ latin capital letter wynn (HTML Ƿ)
  • U+01BF ƿ latin letter wynn (HTML ƿ)
  • U+16B9 runic letter wunjo wynn w (HTML )
  • U+A768 latin capital letter vend (HTML )
  • U+A769 latin small letter vend (HTML )
  • "Unicode character search". Retrieved 2012-04-28. 


  1. ^ Freeborn, Dennis (1992). From Old English to Standard English. London: MacMillan. p. 25.  
  2. ^ : Dickins, Bruce (1915). Runic and Heroic Poems of the Old Teutonic Peoples. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 14-15. 

See also

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