J is for Jams and Jellies

Homemade jams and jellies found at a church sale.

History and significance of the letter J

The letter J is a consonant and, as the newest addition to the alphabet, one of the least used.

In English, the letter J is followed by a vowel.

English words do not end in the letter J. Words ending in a “dzh” sound are spelled with a g followed by an e to make a soft g or j sound.

edge, forge, fudge, sludge


hadj [Arabic], raj [Hindi]

The letter J was originally used as a variation of the letter I, to create a distinctive ending to lower case Roman numerals, e.g., “xviij” for “18”. Other than that, classical Latin did not have a letter J until Latin scholars started to add them.

In 1524, the letter J began to be used as a distinct letter in Renaissance Italian and Middle High German. In English, too, the letter J became useful as new sounds entered the language, starting in 1634. Before that, for example, “JUSTICE” was written as “IVSTICE”. The vowel I, used as a consonant, came to be expressed as a J.

Other languages have adopted the letter J but pronounce it differently. Some languages, for example, modern Celtic, do not use J except in proper names.

Fun J words









Special reading assignment

  1. A junction is a crossroad or intersection. A junction box is something else.
  2. The name of the first month of the year, January, is taken from the Roman Janus, a diety with two faces, one looking forward and the other back.
  3. The month of June is named after Roman goddess Juno, wife of Jupiter.
  4. The month of July is named after Roman emperor Julius Caesar (b. 100 BC; d. 44 BC).


J is for Jellyfish

Aurelia aurita, medusa stage
These moon jellyfish create an eerie display in the Australasia Pavilion at the Toronto Zoo.


Judeo— refers to Jews or something Jewish, or something in addition to Judaism


junct— stands for join

junction, conjunction, disjunction 

jur— stands for law or justice



juxta— near or alongside




ject creates verbs meaning to throw something




jud refers to law

judgment (or judgement)



jugal refers to a yoke


junct refers to a joining

junction, conjunction, disjunction


juven refers to young




  1. Look in a dictionary and count the number of pages devoted to the letters J, Z, Q, and X.
  2. Why are there so few prefixes and suffixes starting with the letter J?
  3. Look on the Internet for a description of the juvenile stage of jellyfish.

Special reading assignment

  1. “Jumping Jehoshephat” is an oath taken from the story of a great king in the Bible.         — from 2 Chronicles 20
  2.  The jackal is a species of wild dog found in Africa and is rather similar to the North American coyote.
  3.  The moon jellyfish, pictured, is the adult or medusa stage of Aurelia aurita.


J is for Joe Pye Weed

Eupatorium purpureum
Joe Pye Weed grows along the shores of lakes and rivers, preferring damp places with rich soil.

How to say J

The letter J is pronounced as a soft g or “dzh”, regardless of the following letter.

jar, jelly, join, jug

English words do not end in the letter J. Words ending in a “dzh” sound are spelled with a g followed by an e to make a soft g or j sound.

edge, forge, fudge, sludge


hadj [Arabic], raj [Hindi]

In some words and names of foreign derivation, a j is pronounced as a y.

hallelujah [Latin] (var. of allelulia [Greek])

Jung [name of Swiss or German derivation]

Juan [name of Spanish derivation]

Marja-Liisa [name of Finnish derivation]

fjord [Norwegian] (var. of fiord)

Silent Js

There are no silent Js in English, except where foreign words have been adopted.

marijuana [Mexican Spanish]

rijsttafel [Dutch]


  1. Create a sentence with as many J-words as possible.

Special reading assignments

Two kinds of Joe Pye Weed are common in our area: spotted and sweet. The spotted variety has purple spots on the stems; the sweet smells of vanilla if you crush it.