The letter L is derived ultimately from the Semitic Lamed (crook/goad) which stood for the phonetic value /l/ as did the Greek letter Lambda Λ (upper case) or λ (lower case), as well as the equivalent Etruscan and Latin letters. In reference, it is spelled el or ell.
In English, L can have several values, depending on whether it occurs before or after a vowel. The alveolar lateral approximant (IPA Template:IPA) occurs before a vowel, as in lip or please, while the velarized alveolar lateral approximant (IPA Template:IPA) occurs in bell and milk (see Dark L). This velarization does not occur in many European languages that use L, and is also a factor making L difficult to pronounce for users of languages such as Japanese or Chinese that either lack or have different values for L.
L can occur before almost any plosive, fricative, or affricate in English. Common digraphs include LL, which has a value identical to L in English but has the separate value voiceless alveolar lateral fricative (IPA Template:IPA) in Welsh, where it can appear in an initial position.
Lima represents the letter L in the NATO phonetic alphabet.
In international Morse code the letter L is DitDahDitDit: · - · ·
X. X. X.
In Unicode the capital L is codepoint U+004C and the lowercase l is U+006C. In some fonts, a lowercase l may be difficult to distinguish from a 1, a more stylized version based on the handwritten ℓ is sometimes used - this is often used as a suffix on a number to represent represent litres. Its codepoint is U +2113 and its numeric character reference is "ℓ".
The EBCDIC code for capital L is 211 and for lowercase l is 147.
Things named "L"
- In computational complexity theory, L (complexity) is the class of all decision problems calculable in logarithmic space.
- A mathematical adventure game was made for the BBC Micro called "L"
- In set theory, <math>L</math> denotes Gödel's constructible universe.
- The city of Chicago, Illinois has an elevated train called the L.
- L is a novel by the Norwegian author Erlend Loe.
- In the movie Men In Black, agent "L" (as in "Elle", French for "She") is the lead female character.
- In the manga Death Note, L is the alias of a brilliant, eccentric detective investigating the 'Kira' murders.
- L is a record alubum, audio cassette and 8-track by Lol Creme and Kevin Godley.
Things abbreviated as "L"
- In anatomy, L means lumbar, as in L-spine, or written with a number (from L1 to L5) refers to a numbered lumbar vertebra or lumbar spinal nerve.
- In biochemistry, L is the symbol for leucine.
- In botany, L. is the standard abbreviation for Carolus Linnaeus when cited as the author of plants he described, as in e.g. Stone Pine Pinus pinea L.
- In electrical engineering, L is often the variable for inductance.
- In physics, L is used to represent angular momentum.
- In etymology and languages, L. is the abbreviation for Latin.
- In finance, L is the New York Stock Exchange ticker symbol for Liberty Media Corporation A
- In industry, L often denotes "large size".
- In international licence plate codes, L stands for Luxembourg.
- In navigation, L denotes the relative direction "left"; see left and right.
- As the first letter of a postal code,
- In Roman naming convention, L is the abbreviation for the praenomen Lucius.
- In the Metric system, l, ℓ or L is symbol for litre or liter, a unit volume.
- In video games, L is the symbol for Luigi, a Nintendo character.
- When affixed to the back of a car, L often means learner.
Alternate meanings for the symbol "L"
- In Roman numerals, L denotes the number 50 (there are also separate Unicode characters for this number, 0x216C "Ⅼ" and 0x217C "ⅼ").
- The lowercase l is sometimes used in place of the number 1 in typewritten text. Some typewriters did not even have a key for the numeral, so a number of people have retained the habit even in the computer age.