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I’ve observed that people read the digit zero as oh as though it were the letter O. For example, in a telephone number where 0800 is oh eight hundred.

Why? Where was this decided, or can anyone prove that it is correct? Where can we use this form?

marked as duplicate by MrHen, Brian Hooper, David M, Bradd Szonye, choster Mar 11 '14 at 16:14

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The number zero is usually pronounced that way when "spelling" out a number, not only in telephone numbers.

As Sandeep Dhamija's link shows, it's also used in many other cases, like in James Bond's call sign double-oh-seven: 007.

Mind you, when it is important that whatever you are spelling out is understood correctly, even over a not-so-good communication line, the digit zero is pronounced as "zero". Actually, in that case, 4 can become "fower" and 9 can become "niner" to facilitate understanding by the receiving party.

  • There are a number of conventions one can use when giving numbers over the phone. Because 'thirty, forty, fifty, etc can be confused with 'thirteen, fourteen, fifteen etc., it helps if people say 'thirtii, fortii, etc when there is risk of confusion with 'thirteen, fourteen' etc. Years ago, when telephone lines were not as clear as they are today accountants would always use this convention. – WS2 Feb 17 '14 at 9:27
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    Where in the world do people pronounce four as "fower"? I have not heard of that. – Tristan r Feb 17 '14 at 13:00
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    @Tristanr It's standard in the NATO alphabet – oerkelens Feb 17 '14 at 13:12
  • oerkelens, I have not heard that pronunciation used in the UK. It seems like a mangled, misunderstood pronunciation that might be expected from someone with some kind of speech disorder. – Tristan r Feb 17 '14 at 13:23
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    @Tristanr Most of the Nato-Alphabet will not represent what people normally hear for the pronunciation of letters and numbers. It was developed to minimize misunderstandings on less-than-perfect communication lines. I would expect this pronunciation from people engaged in that kind of communication - regardless of their speech abilities or absence thereof :P – oerkelens Feb 17 '14 at 13:27

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