I have tried a search on the internet, but did not find anything official. I am looking for the definitive explanation of the symbol "æ" in Latin. Is it equivalent to the diphthong "ae" or is it different?

So is "Curriculum vitae" = "Curriculum vitæ"?

  • 3
    I'm intrigued as to what you do and don't consider 'official', if this site counts as the latter!
    – dbmag9
    Nov 16, 2020 at 20:45
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    @dbmag9 As far as hearing it from just some person online goes, I think our site has the best just some persons. Now that's essentially official.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Nov 16, 2020 at 20:54
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    @JoonasIlmavirta To be clear, I consider this site very reliable and upvoted your answer! I just found it a funny turn of phrase from the OP.
    – dbmag9
    Nov 16, 2020 at 21:06
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    @dbmag9 That's how I took it. I just wanted to say in an unnecessarily convoluted manner that this site is among the most reliable ones about Latin.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Nov 17, 2020 at 14:16

1 Answer 1


When it comes to Latin, 'æ' is the same as 'ae', at least when in the diphthong. When the vowels are in different syllables, as in aer, then 'æ' is not used.

You could see this so that 'ae' is such a commonly appearing combination that it is essentially a single letter. It makes thus sense to write the two letters as one, and it also has the benefit of indicating that it is indeed a diphthong. From a Latin point of view 'æ' is typically understood as a ligature, not a letter, but that is a mere matter of definition.

In some languages (at least many Nordic ones) 'æ' is a separate letter and is not interchangeable with 'ae'. In Latin you can always write 'æ' out as 'ae', and thus indeed Curriculum vitae equals Curriculum vitæ. The ligature should be applied consistently: either use it in all possible instances or never. In the texts I have seen it is more common to never use ligatures, and non-diphthongs can be indicated by dieresis as in aër.

The same applies to the ligature 'œ' for 'oe' in Latin, but its use in other languages is different from 'æ'.

  • do you have a source for the claim that æ was only used for the diphthong?
    – Tristan
    Nov 23, 2021 at 10:29
  • @Tristan Unfortunately nothing but my experience. Judging by the votes, many users agree, but I know full well that that is not the most compelling proof. Probably the best course of action is to ask a separate question for a reputable source discussing this very point.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Nov 23, 2021 at 20:04

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