Phonemic representation d͡ʒ, ʒ, ɡ, ɟ, ɣ
Position in alphabet 3
Numerical value 3
Alphabetic derivatives of the Phoenician

Gimel is the third letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Gīml , Hebrew ˈGimel ג, Aramaic Gāmal , Syriac Gāmal ܓ, and Arabic ǧīm ج (in alphabetical order; fifth in spelling order). Its sound-value in the original Phoenician and in all derived alphabets, save Arabic, is a voiced velar plosive [ɡ]; in Modern Standard Arabic, it represents either a /d͡ʒ/ or /ʒ/ for most Arabic speakers except in Lower Egypt, the southern parts of Yemen and some parts of Oman where it is pronounced as a voiced velar plosive [ɡ], see below and also Persian Gaf گ.

In its unattested, yet hypothetical, Proto-Canaanite form, the letter may have been named after a weapon that was either a staff sling or a throwing stick, ultimately deriving from a Proto-Sinaitic glyph based on the hieroglyph below:

The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek gamma (Γ), the Latin C and G, and the Cyrillic Г.

Arabic ǧīm

The Arabic letter ج is named جيم ǧīm. It is written is several ways depending in its position in the word:

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ج ـج ـجـ جـ

In most Modern Standard Arabic (Literary Arabic) registers and languages that use the Arabic script (e.g. Persian, Urdu, Pashto, Uyghur, Malay, etc) The standard pronunciation is an affricate [d͡ʒ], which is also the only acceptable value in which to recite the Qur'an. Less often, it is pronounced as a fricative [ʒ], except in Lower Egypt and some parts of Southern Arabian Peninsula. Differences in pronunciation occur because speakers of Modern Standard Arabic pronounce words in accordance to their spoken variety of Arabic. In such varieties, cognate words will have consistent differences in pronunciation of the letter:

The three main pronunciations:

Other pronunciations:

  • [j]: In parts of the Arabian Peninsula in the most colloquial speech but [d͡ʒ] or sometimes [ʒ] to pronounce Literary Arabic loan words.

Egyptians always use the letter to represent [ɡ] as well as in names and loanwords, such as جولف "golf". However, ج may be used in Egypt to transcribe /ʒ/~/d͡ʒ/ (normally pronounced [ʒ]) or if there is a need to differentiate between them completely then چ can be used instead to represent /ʒ/~/d͡ʒ/.

Hebrew gimel


Orthographic variants
Various print fonts Cursive
ג ג ג

Hebrew spelling: גִּימֵל

Bertrand Russell posits that the letter's form is a conventionalized image of a camel.[1][2] The letter may be the shape of the walking animal's head, neck, and forelegs. Barry B. Powell, a specialist in the history of writing, states "It is hard to imagine how gimel = "camel" can be derived from the picture of a camel (it may show his hump, or his head and neck!)".[3]

Gimel is one of the six letters which can receive a dagesh. The two functions of dagesh are distinguished as either qal (light) or hazaq (strong). The six letters are bet, gimel, daled, kaph, pe, and taf. Three of them (bet, kaph, and pe) have their sound value changed in modern Hebrew from the fricative to the plosive by adding a dagesh. The other three represent the same pronunciation in modern Hebrew, but have had alternate pronunciations at other times and places. They are essentially pronounced in the fricative as ג gh غ, dh ذ and th ث. In the Temani pronunciation, gimel represents /ɡ/, /ʒ/, or /d͡ʒ/ when with a dagesh, and /ɣ/ without a dagesh. In modern Hebrew, the combination ג׳ (gimel followed by a geresh) is used in loanwords and foreign names to denote [d͡ʒ].


In gematria, gimel represents the number three.

It is written like a vav with a yud as a "foot", and it resembles a person in motion; symbolically, a rich man running after a poor man to give him charity, as in the Hebrew alphabet gimel directly precedes dalet, which signifies a poor or lowly man, from the Hebrew word dal (b. Shabbat, 104a).[4]

The word gimel is related to gemul, which means 'justified repayment', or the giving of reward and punishment.

Gimel is also one of the seven letters which receive special crowns (called tagin) when written in a Sefer Torah. See shin, ayin, teth, nun, zayin, and tsadi.

In Modern Hebrew, the frequency of usage of gimel, out of all the letters, is 1.26%.

Syriac Gamal/Gomal

Madnḫaya Gamal
Serṭo Gomal
Esṭrangela Gamal

In the Syriac alphabet, the third letter is ܓ — Gamal in eastern pronunciation, Gomal in western pronunciation (ܓܵܡܵܠ). It is one of six letters that represent two associated sounds (the others are Bet, Dalet, Kaph, Pe and Taw). When Gamal/Gomal has a hard pronunciation (qûššāyâ ) it represents [ɡ], like "goat". When Gamal/Gomal has a soft pronunciation (rûkkāḵâ ) it traditionally represents [ɣ] (ܓ݂ܵܡܵܠ), or Ghamal/Ghomal. The letter, renamed Jamal/Jomal, is written with a tilde/tie either below or within it to represent the borrowed phoneme [d͡ʒ] (ܓ̰ܡܵܠ), which is used in Garshuni and some Neo-Aramaic languages to write loan and foreign words from Arabic or Persian.

Ethiopian/Sudanese Gimel

The dialect of Eastern Africa often utilizes the gimel sofit when the gimel ends a word. The letter is a traditional gimel with an add-on curve on the bottom.

Character encodings

UTF-8215 146D7 92216 172D8 AC218 175DA AF220 147DC 93224 160 130E0 A0 82226 132 183E2 84 B7
Numeric character referenceגגججگگܓܓࠂࠂℷℷ
UTF-8240 144 142 130F0 90 8E 82240 144 161 130F0 90 A1 82240 144 164 130F0 90 A4 82
UTF-1655296 57218D800 DF8255298 56386D802 DC4255298 56578D802 DD02
Numeric character reference𐎂𐎂𐡂𐡂𐤂𐤂

See also

The serif form of the Hebrew letter gimel is occasionally used for the gimel function in mathematics.


  1. Russell, Bertrand (1972). A history of western philosophy (60th print. ed.). New York: Touchstone book. ISBN 9780671314002.
  2. Stan Tenen - Meru Foundation. "Meru Foundation Research: Letter Portrait: Gimel".
  3. Powell, Barry B. (27 March 2009). Writing: Theory and History of the Technology of Civilization. Wiley Blackwell. p. 182. ISBN 978-1405162562.
  4. Ginzburgh, Yitzchak; Trugman, Avraham Arieh; Wisnefsky, Moshe Yaakov (1991). The Alef-beit: Jewish Thought Revealed Through the Hebrew Letters. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 42,389. ISBN 9780876685181.
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