This article is about the letter. For other uses, see Hamza (disambiguation). For the name transliterated by the same spelling, see Hamza (name).
Not to be confused with ع (‘ayn), which has a similar looking initial form.

Hamza (Arabic: همزة, hamzah) (ء) is a letter in the Arabic alphabet, representing the glottal stop [ʔ]. Hamza is not one of the 28 "full" letters, and owes its existence to historical inconsistencies in the standard writing system. It is derived from the Arabic letter ‘ayn. In the Phoenician and Aramaic alphabets, from which the Arabic alphabet is descended, the glottal stop was expressed by aleph (), continued by alif (  ) in the Arabic alphabet. However, alif was used to express both a glottal stop and a long vowel /aː/. To indicate that a glottal stop, and not a mere vowel, was intended, hamza was added diacritically to alif. In modern orthography, under certain circumstances, hamza may also appear on the line, as if it were a full letter, independent of an alif. In Unicode it is at the codepoint U+0621 and named 'ARABIC LETTER HAMZA'.


Hamzah is a noun from the verb هَمَزَ hamaz-a meaning ‘to prick, goad, drive’ or ‘to provide (a letter or word) with hamzah’.[1]

Hamzat waṣl

The hamza letter on its own always represents hamzat qaṭ‘ (همزة قطع); that is, a phonemic glottal stop unlike the hamzat waṣl or hamzat al-waṣl (همزة الوصل), a non-phonemic glottal stop produced automatically at the beginning of an utterance. Although it can be written as alif carrying a waṣlah sign ٱ, it is usually indicated by a regular alif without a hamza. It occurs, for example, in the definite article al-, ism, ibn, imperative verbs and the perfective aspect of verb forms VII to X, but it is not pronounced following a vowel: (al-baytu l-kabīru for written البيت الكبير). It occurs only at the beginning of a word following a preposition or the definite article.


The hamza can be written either alone, as if it were a letter, or with a carrier, when it becomes a diacritic:

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ء (none) (none) (none)
Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ٴ (none) (none) (none)
  • Above or below an alif:
Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: أ ـأ ـأ أ
Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: إ ـإ ـإ إ
  • Above a wāw:
Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ؤ ـؤ ـؤ ؤ
  • Above a dotless yā’, also called hamzah ‘alá nabrah / yā’ hamzah. Joined medially and finally in Arabic, other languages written in Arabic-based script may have it initially as well (or it may take its isolated or initial shape, even in Arabic, after a non-joining letter in the same word):
Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ئ ـئ ـئـ ئـ
Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ݬ ـݬ ـݬ ݬ


Detailed description

I. If the hamza is initial:

II. If the hamza is final:

III. If the hamza is medial:

  • If i or u follows, the hamza is written over yā’ or wāw, accordingly.
  • Otherwise, the hamza would be written on the line. If a yā’ precedes, however, that would conflict with the stroke joining the yā’ to the following letter, so the hamza is written over yā’. (as in جئت)
  • If there is only one vowel (or two of the same kind), that vowel determines the seat (alif, wāw, or yā’).
  • If there are two conflicting vowels, i takes precedence over u, u over a so mi’ah 'hundred' is written مئة, with hamza over the yā’.
  • Alif-maddah occurs if appropriate.

Not surprisingly, he complexity of the rules causes some disagreement.

  • In the sequence ū’ū (yasū’ūna), the alternatives are hamza on the line, or hamza over yā’, when the rules here would call for hamza over wāw. Perhaps, the resulting sequence of three wāws would be especially repugnant.
  • In the sequence yaqra’ūna, the alternative form has hamza over alif, not yā’.
  • The forms yabṭu’ūna, ya’ūbu have no alternative form. (Note yaqra’ūna with the same sequence of vowels.)

Overview tables

The letter ط stands for any consonant. Note: The table shows only potential combinations and their graphic representations according to the spelling rules; not every possible combination exists in Arabic.

Intervocalic (between vowels)
i ṭiʾiṭṭiʾuṭṭiʾaṭṭiʾīṭṭiʾūṭṭiʾāṭ
طِئِط طِئُط طِئَط طِئِيط طِئُوط طِئَاط
u ṭuʾiṭṭuʾuṭṭuʾaṭṭuʾīṭṭuʾūṭṭuʾāṭ
طُئِط طُؤُط طُؤَط طُئِيط طُءُوط طُؤَاط
a ṭaʾiṭṭaʾuṭṭaʾaṭṭaʾīṭṭaʾūṭṭaʾāṭ
طَئِط طَؤُط طَأَط طَئِيط طَءُوط طَآط
ī ṭīʾiṭṭīʾuṭṭīʾaṭṭīʾīṭṭīʾūṭṭīʾāṭ
طِيئِط طِيئُط طِيئَط طِيئِيط طِيئُوط طِيئَاط
ū ṭūʾiṭṭūʾuṭṭūʾaṭṭūʾīṭṭūʾūṭṭūʾāṭ
طُوءِط طُوءُط طُوءَط طُوءِيط طُوءُوط طُوءَاط
ā ṭāʾiṭṭāʾuṭṭāʾaṭṭāʾīṭṭāʾūṭṭāʾāṭ
طَائِط طَاؤُط طَاءَط طَائِيط طَاءُوط طَاءَاط
ay ṭayʾiṭṭayʾuṭṭayʾaṭṭayʾīṭṭayʾūṭṭayʾāṭ
طَيْئِط طَيْئُط طَيْئَط طَيْئِيط طَيْئُوط طَيْئَاط
aw ṭawʾiṭṭawʾuṭṭawʾaṭṭawʾīṭṭawʾūṭṭawʾāṭ
طَوْئِط طَوْؤُط طَوْأَط طَوْئِيط طَوْءُوط طَوْآط
طَوْءِط طَوْءُط طَوْءَط طَوْءِيط طَوْءَاط
Other cases
#_VC ʾiṭʾuṭʾaṭʾīṭʾūṭʾāṭ
إِط أُط أَط إِيط أُوط آط
C_VC ṭʾiṭṭʾuṭṭʾaṭṭʾīṭṭʾūṭṭʾāṭ
طْئِط طْؤُط طْأَط طْئِيط طْءُوط طْآط
CV_C ṭiʾṭṭuʾṭṭaʾṭṭīʾṭṭūʾṭṭāʾṭ
طِئْط طُؤْط طَأْط طِيئْط طُوءْط طَاءْط
CV_# ṭiʾṭuʾṭaʾṭīʾṭūʾṭāʾ
طِئ طُؤ طَأ طِيء طُوء طَاء
طِء طُء طَء


  The hamza is written over yāʾ ئ
  The hamza is written over wāw ؤ
  The hamza is written over or under alif أ , آ , إ
  The hamza is written on the line ء

Hamza in other Arabic-based scripts

Urdu/Shahmukhi script

In Urdu script, hamza does not occur at the initial position over alif since alif is not used as a glottal stop in Urdu. In the middle position, if hamza is surrounded by vowels, it indicates a diphthong between the two vowels. In the middle position, if hamza is surrounded by only one vowel, it takes the sound of that vowel. In the final position hamza is silent or produces a glottal sound, as in Arabic.

In Urdu, hamza usually represents a diphthong between two vowels. It rarely acts like the Arabic hamza except in a few loanwords from Arabic.

Hamza is also added at the last letter of the first word of ezāfe compound to represent -e- if the first word ends with yeh or with he or over bari yeh if is added at the end of the first word of the ezāfe compound.

Hamza is always written on the line in the middle position unless in waw if that letter is preceded by a non-joiner letter; then, it is seated above waw. Hamza is also seated when written above bari yeh. In the final form, Hamza is written in its full form. In ezāfe, hamza is seated above he, yeh or bari yeh of the first word to represent the -e- of ezāfe compound.

Latin representations

There are different ways to represent hamza in Latin transliteration:

See also


  1. Wehr, Hans (1994). "همز hamaza". In Cowan, J. M. The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Arabic (4th ed.). Otto Harrassowitz KG. ISBN 978-0-87950-003-0.
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