Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


So Bill Nevins, my engineer, who was workin' the h'ister, and I went up.

Just suppose your friend is a reincarnation of Antony without an 'H'?

"I think he came from your friend Anthony with an 'H,'" Cleopatra broke in.

"A—h—" He turned his head away and flung an arm up over his eyes.

"I h'ard naething," answered Andrew, stopping at her cry and listening.

Ye never was engaged to onybody—at least that ever I h'ard tell o'!

H'm-m. And the judges didn't pay any attention when you claimed a foul?

A feller that h'isted in as much fried dough as you did ought to expect—'

If we can h'ist the jib we can get some steerage way on her, maybe.

H'm—yes; we haven't asked him since he came up to St. Teresa's.


the pronunciation "aitch" was in Old French (ache "name of the letter H"), and is from a presumed Late Latin *accha (cf. Italian effe, elle, emme), with the central sound approximating the value of the letter when it passed from Roman to Germanic, where it at first represented a strong, distinctly aspirated -kh- sound close to that in Scottish loch. In earlier Latin the letter was called ha.

In Romanic languages, the sound became silent in Late Latin and was omitted in Old French and Italian, but it was restored in Middle English spelling in words borrowed from French, and often later in pronunciation, too. Thus Modern English has words ultimately from Latin with missing -h- (e.g. able, from Latin habile); with a silent -h- (e.g. heir, hour); with a formerly silent -h- now often vocalized (e.g. humble, humor, herb); and even a few with an excrescent -h- fitted in confusion to words that never had one (e.g. hostage, hermit).

Relics of the formerly unvoiced -h- persist in pedantic insistence on an historical (object) and in obsolete mine host. The use in digraphs (e.g. -sh-, -th-) goes back to the ancient Greek alphabet, which used it in -ph-, -th-, -kh- until -H- took on the value of a long "e" and the digraphs acquired their own characters. The letter passed into Roman use before this evolution, and thus retained there more of its original Semitic value.


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.