Voiceless velar plosive

Voiceless velar plosive
IPA Number 109
Entity (decimal) k
Unicode (hex) U+006B
Braille ⠅ (braille pattern dots-13)
Audio sample
source · help

The voiceless velar plosive or stop is a type of consonantal sound used in almost all spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨k⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is k.

The [k] sound is a very common sound cross-linguistically. Most languages have at least a plain [k], and some distinguish more than one variety. Most Indo-Aryan languages, such as Hindi and Bengali, have a two-way contrast between aspirated and plain [k]. Only a few languages lack a voiceless velar plosive, e.g. Tahitian.

Some languages have the voiceless pre-velar plosive,[1] which is articulated slightly more front compared with the place of articulation of the prototypical velar plosive, though not as front as the prototypical palatal plosive.

Conversely, some languages have the voiceless post-velar plosive,[2] which is articulated slightly behind the place of articulation of the prototypical velar plosive, though not as back as the prototypical uvular plosive.


Features of the voiceless velar stop:

  • Its manner of articulation is occlusive, which means it is produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. Since the consonant is also oral, with no nasal outlet, the airflow is blocked entirely, and the consonant is a plosive.
  • Its place of articulation is velar, which means it is articulated with the back of the tongue (the dorsum) at the soft palate.
  • Its phonation is voiceless, which means it is produced without vibrations of the vocal cords. In some languages the vocal cords are actively separated, so it is always voiceless; in others the cords are lax, so that it may take on the voicing of adjacent sounds.
  • It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
  • It is a central consonant, which means it is produced by directing the airstream along the center of the tongue, rather than to the sides.
  • The airstream mechanism is pulmonic, which means it is articulated by pushing air solely with the lungs and diaphragm, as in most sounds.


IPA Description
k plain k
aspirated k
palatalized k
labialized k
k with no audible release
voiced k
tense k
ejective k


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Abkhaz ақалақь/ak̇halak̇h’ [ˈakalakʲ] 'the city' See Abkhaz phonology
Adyghe Shapsug кьэт/k′ėt About this sound[kʲat]  'chicken' Dialectal; corresponds to [t͡ʃ] in other dialects.
Temirgoy пскэн/pskėn [pskan] 'to cough'
Ahtna gistaann [kɪstʰɐːn] 'six'
Aleut[3] kiikax̂ [kiːkaχ] 'cranberry bush'
Arabic Modern Standard[4] كتب‎/kutib [ˈkatabɐ] 'he wrote' See Arabic phonology
Armenian Eastern[5] քաղաք/ k'aġak'/k'aghak [kʰɑˈʁɑkʰ] 'town' Contrasts with unaspirated form.
Assamese /kom [kɔm] 'less'
Assyrian ܟܬܒ̣ܐ ctava [ktava] 'book' Used in most varieties, with the exception of the Urmia and Nochiya dialects
where it corresponds to [t͡ʃ].
Basque katu [kat̪u] 'cat'
Bengali /kom [kɔm] 'less' Contrasts with aspirated form. See Bengali phonology
Bulgarian как/kak [kak] 'how' See Bulgarian phonology
Catalan[6] quinze [ˈkinzə] 'fifteen' See Catalan phonology
Chinese Cantonese / gā About this sound[kaː˥] 'home' Contrasts with aspirated and or labialized forms. See Cantonese phonology
Hokkien koa [kua] 'song'
Mandarin / gāo About this sound[kɑʊ˥] 'high' Contrasts with aspirated form. See Mandarin phonology
Chuvash кукка [ku'kːɑ] 'mother's brother'
Czech kost [kost] 'bone' See Czech phonology
Danish Standard[7] gås [ˈkɔ̽ːs] 'goose' Usually transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɡ̊⟩ or ⟨ɡ⟩. Contrasts with aspirated form, which is usually transcribed in IPA with ⟨⟩ or ⟨k⟩. See Danish phonology
Dutch[8] koning [ˈkoːnɪŋ] 'king' See Dutch phonology
English kiss About this sound[kʰɪs] 'kiss' See English phonology
Esperanto rakonto [raˈkonto] 'tale' See Esperanto phonology
Estonian kõik [kɤik] 'all' See Estonian phonology
Esperanto kato [kato] 'cat'
Filipino kuto [ˈkuto] 'lice'
Finnish kakku [kɑkːu] 'cake' See Finnish phonology
French[9] cabinet [kabinɛ] 'office' See French phonology
Georgian[10] ვა/kva [kʰva] 'stone'
German Käfig [ˈkʰɛːfɪç] 'cage' See Standard German phonology
Greek καλόγερος / kalógeros [kaˈlo̞ʝe̞ro̞s̠] 'monk' See Modern Greek phonology
Gujarati કાંદો/kaṃde [kɑːnd̪oː] 'onion' See Gujarati phonology
Hebrew כסף / kesef [ˈkesef] 'money' See Modern Hebrew phonology
Hiligaynon kadlaw [kad̪law] 'laugh'
Hindustani काम / کام [kɑːm] 'work' Contrasts with aspirated form. See Hindustani phonology
Hungarian akkor [ɒkkor] 'then' See Hungarian phonology
Italian[11] casa [ˈkäːzä] 'house' See Italian phonology
Japanese[12] / kaban [kabaɴ] 'handbag' See Japanese phonology
Kagayanen[13] kalag [kað̞aɡ] 'spirit'
Korean 감자 / kamja [kamdʐa] 'potato' See Korean phonology
Lakota kimímela [kɪˈmɪmela] 'butterfly'
Luxembourgish[14] geess [ˈkeːs] 'goat' Less often voiced [ɡ]. It is usually transcribed in IPA as ⟨ɡ⟩, and it contrasts with aspirated form, which is usually transcribed ⟨k⟩.[14] See Luxembourgish phonology
Macedonian кој [kɔj] 'who' See Macedonian phonology
Marathi वच [kəʋət͡s] 'armour' Contrasts with aspirated form. See Marathi phonology
Malay kaki [käki] 'leg' Unreleased in syllable codas in some words, See Malay phonology
Nepali केरा [keɾä] 'banana' Contrasts with aspirated form. See Nepali phonology
Norwegian kake [kɑːkɛ] 'cake' See Norwegian phonology
Odia କା/kāma [kämɔ] 'work' Contrasts with aspirated form.
Pashto كال‎/kal [kɑl] 'year'
Persian کارد/kārd [kɑrd] 'knife'
Polish[15] buk About this sound[ˈbuk]  'beech tree' See Polish phonology
Portuguese[16] corpo [ˈkoɾpu] 'body' See Portuguese phonology
Punjabi ਕਰ/کر/kar [kəɾ] 'do' Contrasts with aspirated form.
Romanian[17] când [ˈkɨnd] 'when' See Romanian phonology
Russian[18] короткий/korotkiy About this sound[kɐˈrotkʲɪj]  'short' See Russian phonology
Serbo-Croatian[19] кост / kost [kȏːs̪t̪] 'bone' See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Slovak kosť [kɔ̝sc̟] 'bone' See Slovak phonology
Spanish[20] casa [ˈkäsä] 'house' See Spanish phonology
Swedish ko [ˈkʰuː] 'cow' See Swedish phonology
Sylheti ꠇꠤꠔꠣ/kita [kɪt̪à] 'what'
Tamil கை/kai [kəɪ̯] 'hand' See Tamil phonology
Telugu కాకి/kāki [kāki] 'crow'
Thai ก่/kị̀ [kaj˨˩] 'chicken' Contrasts with an aspirated form.
Turkish kulak [kʰuɫäk] 'ear' See Turkish phonology
Ubykh кауар/kawar [kawar] 'slat' Found mostly in loanwords. See Ubykh phonology
Ukrainian[21] колесо/koleso [ˈkɔɫɛsɔ] 'wheel' See Ukrainian phonology
Vietnamese[22] cam [kam] 'orange' See Vietnamese phonology
Welsh calon [kalɔn] 'heart' See Welsh phonology
West Frisian keal [kɪəl] 'calf' See West Frisian phonology
Yi / ge [kɤ˧] 'foolish' Contrasts aspirated and unaspirated forms.
Zapotec Tilquiapan[23] canza [kanza] 'walking'

See also