cedilla

cedilla

[si-dil-uh]
noun
1.
a mark (¸) placed under a consonant letter, as under c in French, in Portuguese, and formerly in Spanish, to indicate that it is pronounced (s), under c and s in Turkish to indicate that they are pronounced, respectively, (ch) and (sh), or under t and s in Romanian to indicate that they are pronounced, respectively, (ts) and (sh).
2.
this mark used as a diacritic of arbitrary value in transliteration of words from non-Roman into Roman alphabetic characters.

Origin:
1590–1600; < Spanish variant spelling of zedilla little z, equivalent to zed(a) zed + -illa diminutive suffix; the mark was so called from its original form

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World English Dictionary
cedilla (sɪˈdɪlə)
 
n
a character ( ¸ ) placed underneath a c before a, o, or u, esp in French, Portuguese, or Catalan, denoting that it is to be pronounced (s), not (k). The same character is used in the scripts of other languages, as in Turkish under s
 
[C16: from Spanish: little z, from ceda zed, from Late Latin zeta; a small z was originally written after c in Spanish, to indicate a sibilant]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

cedilla
1599, from Sp. cedilla, from a Latin-like dim. of zeta "the letter 'z'." The mark (formerly used in Sp., too) was derived from that letter and indicates a "soft" sound in letters in positions that are normally "hard."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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