Is the Letter “Z” Pronounced “Zee” or “Zed”?
  • 2-minute read
  • 4th September 2022

Is the Letter “Z” Pronounced “Zee” or “Zed”?

When you’re learning English as a second language, you have a lot to contend with.

There usually isn’t much variation in how to pronounce letters in the alphabet – apart from the letter Z. You might have heard Z pronounced as zed and zee. So, which is correct… and why?

Zed

Zed is widely known to be used in British English. But it’s also used in almost every English-speaking country. In England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Australia, India, Canada (usually), and New Zealand, Z is pronounced as zed. It’s derived from the Greek letter zeta.

Zee

It’s only in American English that it’s pronounced as zee, with Candian English sometimes being the exception, depending on which option the speaker prefers.

Zee became the standard way to pronounce Z in the United States in the 19th century. It’s said that zee most likely came about because it rhymes with other letter pronunciations in the English alphabet (e.g., e, d, c, b, g, and p).

The Spread of Zee

While zee is only the standardized pronunciation of Z in American English, with the popularity of The Alphabet Song, as well as the popularity of American television shows and films across the world, zee is now sometimes used and accepted in other English-speaking countries.

Regardless of which pronunciation you use, people will usually know which letter you’re referring to! But, keep in mind that zed is technically the correct version in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, India, Australia, and New Zealand, and zee is technically correct in the United States.

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