Letter of the week- X

I’d be honest and say that the letter X doesn’t quite rank as high for me in importance when I rank all 26 letters of the alphabets. But the “lets be fair” part of my says, that I gotta give good ole letter X his equal emphasis; after all, what would Fox, box and X-ray be without the letter X.

So I did a little digging.

X, as most of us already know is the 24th letter of the alphabet. Aside from its (meta)linguistic importance (ahem!), X also has mathematical importance as it is often used to symbolize an unknown variable and has been thereafter co-opted within linguistics to denote a similar unknown: person X, for example.

Traditionally, X was also used in lieu of a person’s signature back in the day since many people could hardly read or write. Though, I never quite get that since they could always use thumbprint. Maybe they did both. I’m sure there were and are huge legal issues to title deeds or will signed simply with an X. Clearly who ever came up with that was either lazy or clever or both.

Then there’s X in lieu of a kiss: this dates back to early Christian times when people would place a kiss on a cross as a mark of a promise. X was a symbol of the cross of calvary as understood by the Greek word for Christ: Xristos. I’m thinking maybe this is why some people aren’t fussed to use X’mas. I personally like spelling the word CHRIST in whole. But back to my point- this was why people would write X at the bottom of letters: to suggest earnestness. Though why hugs are fat Os is beyond me. I like to think someone thought the contrast between both letters looked nice. Or maybe Hallmark came up with it.

Anyway… then there is the all famous X chromosome. The all important X chromosome is one of two sex determining chromosomes. Females have two X chromosomes and males have XY. I think this is why women are considered mysterious and all- evidently the mathematicians got that observation right seeing as they like to use X to denote the unknown variable.

And most importantly, to me anyway, X just kinda looks cool. Don’t you think?

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