Definition for E


the second vowel and the fifth letter of the English alphabet, seems to be the ancient Phenician and Hebrew › inverted, corresponding nearly with the Chaldaic and later Hebrew ה. Its long and natural sound in English coincides with the sound of i in the Italian and French languages, and is formed by a narrower opening of the glottis than that of a. It has a long sound, as in here, mere, me; a short sound, as in met, men; and the sound of a open or long, in there, prey, vein. As a final letter, it is generally quiescent; but it serves to lengthen the sound of the preceding vowel, or at least to indicate that the preceding vowel is to have its long sound, as in mane, cane, plume, which, without the final e, would be pronounced man, can, plum. After c and g, the final e serves to indicate that c is to be pronounced as s, and g as j. Thus without the final e, in mace [mase,] this word would be pronounced mac [mak,] and rage [raj] would be pronounced rag. In a numerous class of words, indeed in almost every word, except a few from the Greek, the final e is silent, serving no purpose whatever, unless to show from what language we have received the words, and in many cases, it does not answer this purpose. In words ending in ive, as active; in ile, as futile; in ine, as in sanguine, examine; in ite, as in definite; e is, for the most part, silent. In some of these words, the use of e is borrowed from the French; in most or all cases, it is not authorized by the Latin originals; it is worse than useless, as it leads to a wrong pronunciation; and the retaining of it in such words is, beyond measure, absurd. When two of this vowel occur together, the sound is the same as that of the single e long, as in deem, esteem, need; and it occurs often with a and i, as in mean, hear, siege, deceive, in which cases, when one vowel only has a sound, the combination I call a digraph [double written.] In these combinations, the sound is usually that of e long, but sometimes the short sound of e, as in lĕad, a metal, rĕad, pret. of rēad, and sometimes the sound of a long, as in reign, feign, pronounced rane, fane. Irregularities of this kind are not reducible to rules. As a numeral, E stands for 250. In the calendar, it is the fifth of the dominical letters. As an abbreviation, it stands for East, as in charts; E. by S., East by South.

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