I have just read the newest post of DOGHOUSEDIARIES, and I am wondering whether the words for characters are fixed in the USA or the UK, as I am not a native English speaker.

For example:

A as in apple

  • Oh, I hope you didn't get me hooked on YAWC. ;) Feb 2, 2011 at 17:04
  • Dante, I just wanted to let you know that Stack Exchange prefers to keep the question in the question and the answers in the answers, so I removed those from your question since all of the answers were already on this page. Please don't take this as a "You did the wrong thing"—I just want to make sure that you don't feel like I'm destroying your post.
    – waiwai933
    Feb 21, 2011 at 6:50
  • @waiwai933 I included the answers in my question because this question was finished and there were more than 1 good answers in my opinion. If it is the convention of SE to not include answers in the final stage of a question, it is fine for me. (Actually, it saves me much effort....)
    – user3812
    Feb 21, 2011 at 7:22
  • 1
    The custom at SE is simply to accept the best answer and upvote any other answers that helped you. Plus, it does save people (both you and other people who are interested) effort from having to check (and update) too many places. :)
    – waiwai933
    Feb 21, 2011 at 16:51

5 Answers 5


The closest thing might be the NATO Phonetic Alphabet.

Alpha Bravo Charlie Delta Echo Foxtrot Golf Hotel India Juliet Kilo Lima Mike November Oscar Papa Quebec Romeo Sierra Tango Uniform Victor Whiskey Xray Yankee Zulu

  • 3
    +1 I agree. This is the best standard that exists internationally.
    – Noldorin
    Feb 2, 2011 at 15:35
  • 4
    @Dante yes "Phonetic Alphabet" is actually a really awful name for this, confusing it with actual alphabets used for phonetics, like the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)
    – nohat
    Feb 2, 2011 at 19:25
  • 4
    K as in Knight. P as in "Pneumonia"...
    – OneProton
    Feb 2, 2011 at 21:12
  • 4
    I think that this is also the standard alphabet for international aviation (even beyond NATO).
    – HorusKol
    Feb 2, 2011 at 22:49
  • 1
    @HorusKol You're right—whenever I'm spelling my name out to someone on the phone, I usually revert to this (because they always get it wrong!).
    – Charlotte
    Feb 3, 2011 at 7:41

If you mean the names as we learn them in school, then they're very rarely written down (so I'm effectively inventing these spellings), but they would (in British English) be:

  • Ay /eɪ/
  • Bee /biː/
  • See /siː/
  • Dee /diː/
  • Ee /iː/
  • Eff /ɛf/
  • Gee /dʒiː/
  • Aitch /eɪtʃ/ — sometimes pre-aspirated as Haitch /heɪtʃ/, though this is considered incorrect in RP
  • Eye /aɪ/
  • Jay /dʒeɪ/
  • Kay /keɪ/
  • Ell /ɛl/
  • Em /ɛm/
  • En /ɛn/
  • Oh /oʊ/ or /əʊ/
  • Pee /piː/
  • Queue /kj(ə)uː/
  • Ar /ɑː/ — with varying degrees of rhotacism; I grew up in the West Country, so say /ɑʵː/
  • Ess /ɛs/
  • Tee /tiː/
  • You /j(ə)uː/
  • Vee /viː/
  • Double-you /ˈdəb(ʉ)l.j(ə)uː/
  • Ex /ɛks/
  • Why /waɪ/
  • Zed /zɛd/

I get what you mean by asking about a is for apple; whilst I'm sure I was taught something like that when first learning to read, it has been so infrequently used since then (I'm now 35) that I honestly couldn't tell you what they were. The letter names above, though, are how I would spell out my name to someone unfamiliar with it, for example.

The Nato Phonetic Alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta and so on) would be familiar to some, but not to all — my mother would probably think me pretentious for using it. But that is what our police would use to provide clear, unambiguous details of a car number plate over the radio, for example.


I think a conventional alphabet that starts with "A is in Apple" is the one form esl.about.com. The purpose is to illustrate a prototypical word starting with each letter for pedagogical purposes (not necessarily to make the pronunciation of the letters distinct like a phonetic alphabet). That list says:

  • A as in "apple"
  • B as in "boy"
  • C as in "car"
  • D as in "dog"
  • E as in "ear"
  • F as in "flag"
  • G as in "great"
  • H as in "house"
  • I as in "insect"
  • J as in "joy"
  • K as in "kind"
  • L as in "light"
  • M as in "magic"
  • N as in "night"
  • O as in "orchestra"
  • P as in "people"
  • Q as in "question"
  • R as in "red"
  • S as in "sure"
  • T as in "truck"
  • U as in "unique"
  • V as in "video"
  • W as in "wow"
  • X as in "xerox" ("xylophone" is also often used here)
  • Y as in "yes"
  • Z as in "zebra"

Bill posted a link to the law enforcement phonetic alphabet, namely. Here the idea is to make each letters word have a distinct sound.

  • A as in Adam
  • B as in Boy
  • C as in Charlie
  • D as in David
  • E as in Edward
  • F as in Frank
  • G as in George
  • H as in Henry
  • I as in Ida
  • J as in John
  • K as in King
  • L as in Lincoln
  • M as in Mary
  • N as in Nora
  • O as in Ocean
  • P as in Paul
  • Q as in Queen
  • R as in Robert
  • S as in Sam
  • T as in Tom
  • U as in Union
  • V as in Victor
  • W as in William
  • X as in X-ray
  • Y as in Young
  • Z as in Zebra
  • 1
    This is for the US, at any rate.
    – Charlotte
    Feb 3, 2011 at 7:42
  • I never understood why anyone would use "P as in Paul", when it easily can sound like "T as Tall", "D as in Doll", "B as in Ball".
    – 2540625
    Sep 30, 2019 at 20:27

The authors of children's books make a living constructing and publishing lists of interesting words for characters. For example, Sesame Street ABC Flash Cards

There are others on Amazon — search for Dr Seuss' ABC, An amazing alphabet book! and Thomas' ABC book. These books, and many more like them help children connect writing to the sound of nouns, a cornerstone of learning any language.

  • I much prefer On Beyond Zebra, the Dr. Suess book covering the lesser-known letters of the alphabet. My favorite letter is "spazz", although "thnad" runs a close second.
    – bye
    Feb 21, 2011 at 6:59
  • please do not post Amazon links with your referrer info in it.
    – F'x
    Jun 4, 2011 at 12:23
  • @F'x - Not Charles here, but I may be guilty of the same... I thought I understood (from something I [mis-]read on meta) that non-SE referrer info was stripped automatically and replaced with SE referrer info. Now I wonder - should I go back and clean up my old posts...?
    – MT_Head
    Jun 5, 2011 at 1:22
  • @MT_Head: you shouldn't put your own referrer, as it seems to prevent the SE referrer to be added (the links are not recognized). Maybe this should be filed as a bug on meta
    – F'x
    Jun 5, 2011 at 6:55
  • @F'x - I had (until last night!) just been copy-pasting the address from Amazon without cleaning it up; I went back and cleaned up my old links. (This had the unintended benefit of moving my old posts back onto the front page, and I seem to've got an extra 50 or so rep. W00t!) Anyway, I will be careful to strip the referrer info on anything I post from now on. I did notice: if there are multiple Amazon links in a post, sometimes only the first one get converted to "rads.stackexchange.com/xxx" Not consistently, though.
    – MT_Head
    Jun 5, 2011 at 17:05