Is there a word that doesn't contain any letters? More specifically, is it technically (or maybe grammatically) possible for a word to not contain any letters?

I should narrow the definition here. I'm considering anything in a highly regarded dictionary to be a word—nothing outside of one. Therefore something like a numeral isn't acceptable.

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    Define word. There are at least a half-dozen reasonable sense here. – tchrist May 16 '15 at 2:12
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    Yes. All English words contain no letters. They contain only sounds. Letters are only in writing, not language. Written English doesn't really represent English very well, which is why we get so many questions here. – John Lawler May 16 '15 at 3:37
  • @John I encourage you to create an answer out of that then. Sounds like an interesting point. – Adam May 16 '15 at 4:59
  • @JohnLawler I'd highly appreciate some more detailed thoughts on how and why written English doesn't really represent English very well. – user2422960 May 16 '15 at 12:12
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    Well, since you ask, here's a selection. – John Lawler May 16 '15 at 15:10

24/7 is itself a word. There are many sources backing this up. I find it incredible yet expected that this is possible. Hopefully I'm not late to the party and everyone already knows 24/7 is an actual word.

24/7 (adverb)
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week; all the time
You just can’t afford to let things get you down, especially when you are on call 24/7.


Interestingly enough, this is a numeronym. Hopefully I'm not the only one who hasn't heard of this word either. The numerals are simply taking the place of twenty-four seven. Additionally, 24/7 is the only word I can find that makes use of any symbols other than letters and numerals.

Here's a definition of word to clarify how this can actually be a word:

word (noun)
1.1 - A single distinct conceptual unit of language, comprising inflected and variant forms


So 24/7 is definitely a concept expressing the consistency or continuity of something.

I should note that it's extremely rare for a word consisting of just numerals and symbols to appear in a highly regarded dictionary. Maybe I'm just crazy.

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    By that definition, every number symbol 0-9 is a non-alphabetic word. Any non-alphabetic abbreviation, such as a unit symbol or a registered trademark identification would also qualify. You're swimming in non-alphabetic words at that point... – Paul Griffin May 16 '15 at 1:47
  • @PaulGriffin You're forgetting the comprising variant forms part. Lone numerals can't be altered in any way. – Adam May 16 '15 at 1:53
  • Oh, I've seen and used at least two different ways to write a 0, 1, 2, 4, 7, and an 8 before. I don't mean to be contrary, I'm a bit interested in this. – Paul Griffin May 16 '15 at 2:06
  • @PaulGriffin "By that definition, every number symbol 0-9 is a non-alphabetic word.". Yup. "How many fingers am I holding up?" "3" – WhatRoughBeast May 16 '15 at 5:00
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    What is incredible and unexpected is that you say "Something like a numeral isn't acceptable" and then self-answer with a word comprising only numerals. – Andrew Leach May 16 '15 at 12:13

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