C. (sē) 1. C is the third
letter of the English alphabet. It is from the Latin letter C,
which in old Latin represented the sounds of k, and
g (in go); its original value being the latter. In
Anglo-Saxon words, or Old English before the Norman Conquest, it
always has the sound of k. The Latin C was the same letter
as the Greek Γ, γ, and came from the Greek alphabet.
The Greeks got it from the Phœnicians. The English name of
C is from the Latin name ce, and was derived, probably,
through the French. Etymologically C is related to g,
h, k, q, s (and other sibilant
sounds). Examples of these relations are in L. acutus, E.
acute, ague; E. acrid, eager,
vinegar; L. cornu, E. horn; E. cat,
kitten; E. coy, quiet; L.
circare, OF. cerchier, E.
See Guide to Pronunciation, §§ 221-228.
2. (Mus.) (a) The
keynote of the normal or "natural" scale, which has neither flats
nor sharps in its signature; also, the third note of the relative
minor scale of the same. (b) C after
the clef is the mark of common time, in which each measure is a
semibreve (four fourths or crotchets); for alla breve time
it is written ?. (c) The "C clef," a
modification of the letter C, placed on any line of the staff,
shows that line to be middle C.
3. As a numeral, C stands for Latin
centum or 100, CC for 200, etc.
C spring, a spring in the form of the