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Zee/zed

Posted by R. Berg on October 20, 2004

In Reply to: Re: British and US English posted by H knowles on October 20, 2004

: : : British English is sometimes different from US English. In some cases the reason can be seen in the use of German based expressions in the US - British 'waistcoat' is US 'vest' - just the same as in German. Similarly, British 'vest' is 'undershirt' in the US - 'unterhempt' in German. There are other similar examples.
: : : However, the alphabet is said in much the same sort of way in Britain and Germany, partcularly the last letter - 'zed' in both languages. Where did the US 'zee' come from?

: : I don't have an answer, but your post reminded me of an old joke wherein a paragraph, written standard English, is rewritten to sound entirely German.

: : I believe the French call it 'zed' as well.

: "zee" came from "seasame street" surely!!! x

The OED's earliest citation for "zee" comes from a 1677 spelling book. Its earliest one for "zed" is dated 14-something (exact year unknown).

Why "zed" but not "bed," "ced," "ded," . . . "ved"?