Letter Xx

Xx is a somewhat special letter in written English because it does not represent its own unique phoneme. In fact, it often serves to represent more than one phoneme in a word. For this reason, instructors may devote time in an introductory cued English class to covering how words with Xx are cued.

Common Pronunciation

The most common pronunciation for the letter x is a combinations of /kkkkkkkkk/ and /sssssssss/ as in Texasmixflaxsix. Another common pronunciation is the combination of /ggggggggg/ and /zzzzzzzzz/ as in example and exist. Some words may may be pronounced with either combination. For example, exit may be pronounced with /ks/ or /gz/. Which combination is used may be a function of one's dialect or the part of speech. For some cuers, one combination may be used for the noun and the other for a verb:

  • Noun: The exit is at the end of the hall.
  • Verb: We should exit the building immediately.

Notice that the addition of either /sssssssss/ or /zzzzzzzzz/ to the preceding consonant follows the same voicing rule that occurs with addition of plural -s. Voiceless /kkkkkkkkk/ takes voiceless /sssssssss/. The voiced consonant /ggggggggg/ takes the voiced consonant /zzzzzzzzz/. So, while a word may be pronounced with either /ks/ or /gz/, it is unlikely to mix those combinations. In other words,  */kz/ or */gs/ are unlikely pronunciations for native English users.

Additional Pronunciations

The letter Xx has several other possible pronunciations. At the beginning or words, it may be pronounced as /zzzzzzzzz/. The following table provides a few of the less common pronunciations of this tricky letter.

Pronunciation Examples
/zzzzzzzzz/ anxietyxenophobiaxylophone
/ʃshshʃshshʃshsh/ anxious
/kkkkkkkkkʃshshʃshshʃshsh/ anxious, noxious, sexual, complexion
/ɪĭiɪĭiɪĭigggggggggzzzzzzzzz/ Xavier
/gggggggggʒzhzhʒzhzhʒzhzh/ luxury, luxurious
/hhhhhhhhh/ Mexico
(silent) faux


ax, axis, box, deluxe, exact, exhaust, fax, fix, flex, foxMexico, mixer, oxygen, pox, sexy, taxes, toxic, toxin, wax.

See Also