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O

O, 15th letter of the alphabet . It is a usual symbol for a mid-back, rounded vowel, rather like the first part of oi. Such a vowel was represented by omicron [Gr.,=little o ], its formal and positional correspondent in the Greek alphabet. English ō is a diphthong of ŏ and w. In chemistry O is the symbol of the element oxygen . In surnames O' is derived from the Irish patronymic system e.g., O'Neill meant grandson of Niall, probably referring originally to Niall Glundubh, high king of Ireland, 915–19 (see name ).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.