the letter used in the writing of Middle English to represent a palatal fricative, as in ung (Modern English young ) or a velar fricative, as in litliche (Modern English lightly ).

1250–1300; Middle English yogh, yok

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yogh (jɒɡ)
1.  a character (ȝ) used in Old and Middle English to represent a palatal fricative very close to the semivowel sound of Modern English y, as in Old English ȝeong (young)
2.  this same character as used in Middle English for both the voiced and voiceless palatal fricatives; when final or in a closed syllable in medial position the sound approached that of German ch in ich, as in knyȝt (knight). After the 14th century this symbol became the modern consonantal (semivocalic) y when initial or commencing a syllable, and though no longer pronounced in medial position it is preserved in many words by a modern gh, as in thought
[C14: perhaps from yokyoke, referring to the letter's shape]

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

M.E. letter, c.1300; see Y. The name probably is identical with yoke (M.E. yogh) and so called because yoke began with a yogh.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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