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|Egyptian hieroglyph "M"||-Phoenician|
The letter M is derived from the Phoenician Mem, via the Greek Mu (Μ, μ). Semitic Mem probably originally pictured water. It is thought that Semitic people working in Egypt c. 2000 BC borrowed a hieroglyph for "water" that was first used for an alveolar nasal (/n/), because of the Egyptian word for water, n-t. This same symbol became used for /m/ in Semitic, because the word for water began with that sound.
The letter 'm' represents the bilabial consonant sound, [m], in the orthography of Latin, as well as in many modern languages. In English, the Oxford English Dictionary (first edition) says that 'm' is sometimes a vowel in words like spasm and in the suffix -ism. In modern terminology, this would be described as a syllabic consonant — IPA [m̩].
|Unicode name||LATIN CAPITAL LETTER M||LATIN SMALL LETTER M|
|Numeric character reference||M||M||m||m|