W, 23d letter of the alphabet, in form a doubled u or v. It is the usual symbol of a voiced bilabial semivowel, as in the English wing. The same semivowel occurs as second member of the dipthongs au (as in house ), ō, and ō. In twice the w represents a voiceless semivowel, which is heard also in some dialects that distinguish between where and wear. In chemistry W is the symbol for the element tungsten.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.