C, third letter of the alphabet, corresponding to Semitic gimel (which probably derived from an early sign for "camel") and Greek gamma (Γ). A rounded form occurs at Corinth and in the Chalcidic alphabet, and both an angular and a rounded form are found in the early Latin alphabet, as well as in Etruscan. The rounded form survived and became general, and the shape of the letter has since altered little.
You are watching: What does the letter c mean
In modern English the letter represents two separate sounds: (1) the unvoiced velar stop as in the Latin alphabet and (2) the unvoiced sibilant, identical with the sound represented by s in certain positions. The letter represents the sibilant when followed by any of the front vowels, e, i, and y (e.g., in "receive," "cider," "cycle"), and in all other cases (except before h) the velar (e.g., "call," "come," "clear," "crumb," "epic"). This is due to the palatalization of the velar in early medieval times before the front vowel, the stages of sound change being k > ki > tš > ts > s. The letter c was applied by French orthographists in the 12th century to represent the sound ts in English, and this sound developed into the simpler sibilant s. Gradually the use of the letter c to represent the velar before front vowels (for example, in the Middle English cyng) gave way to that of k, ambiguity being thus as far as possible avoided.
See more: Eli5: Can You Trace A Prepaid Phone Untraceable: Tracking Down The Answer
The c takes the place of s in words such as "mice” and "advice," in which s would represent a voiced sibilant (identical with the sound of z), and in words such as "practice" merely as a means of grammatical distinction.
Before k the letter is often redundant (e.g., in "thick," "clock," etc.). The combination ch represents an unvoiced palatal affricate (tš), as in "church," except that in words of Greek origin it generally has the sound of k—e.g., in "chorus."