40 Rip-Roaring R-Words To Refresh Your Vocabulary

Our humble letter R has one of the lengthiest and most complicated histories of all the letters of the alphabet, as its shape and appearance have been influenced by almost every ancient civilization that it has come into contact with. Its story begins around 5000 years ago with its earliest ancestor, an Egyptian hieroglyph representing a left-facing head. From Ancient Egypt, this head-in-profile symbol was taken on by the Phoenicians, who simplified it to a straightforward three-stroke character, resh, that looked like a pointed, left-facing P. Next came the Ancient Greeks, who adopted resh but reversed it to form their letter or P. then took on the Greek letter P, but, inspired by some Western Greek writings and inscriptions, began adding a short curled tail beneath the loop. This Etruscan variant of rho failed to catch on back in Greece, but by the time the Latin alphabet developed in what is now Italy, this form had become almost standard; around 2300 years ago, the Romans began lengthening this curled tail to form the Roman letter R, which has remained unchanged ever since.