How Is W Pronounced in French?

Where Are All the French 'W' Words?

Have you noticed an absence of the letter 'W' in French words? While the sound is used in words like oui, you will be hard pressed to find a French word that begins with a 'W'. This is one of two letters that were not in the original French alphabet, so it only appears in foreign words.

The French Use of the Letter 'W'

The letter 'W' is quite rare in French. While the French use the Latin (or Roman) alphabet with twenty-six letters today, this was not always so.

The letter 'W' was added in the 19th century, most likely because of its use in the languages of other countries with whom the French interacted with. 

The same can be said for the letter 'K.' This one made an even later appearance in the French alphabet.

How to Pronounce the French 'W'

When saying the alphabet in French, the 'W' is pronounced doo-bluh-vay. This literally means "double V" and is similar to the Spanish 'W' (another language where the letter is not native).

In use, the letter 'W' is found primarily in words borrowed from other languages. In almost every instance it takes on the sound from the source language. For instance, it sounds like a  ​'V' for German words and like an English 'W' in English words.

French Words with W

Due to the non-native nature of 'W' in French, the vocabulary list for this letter is considerably short.

Click on the links below to hear the words pronounced in French:

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Lawless, Laura K. "How Is W Pronounced in French?" ThoughtCo, Mar. 17, 2017, Lawless, Laura K. (2017, March 17). How Is W Pronounced in French? Retrieved from Lawless, Laura K. "How Is W Pronounced in French?" ThoughtCo. (accessed March 19, 2018).