Lewis & Short

V, v, a character derived from the Greek γ, Mar. Victor. p. 2459 P. A consonant which, though originally written with the same sign as the vowel u (v. the letter U), was by the ancients themselves considered as essentially different from it, Charis. p. 57 P.; Diom. p. 416; 420 P.; Prisc. p. 539; 542; 544 sq. P.; Vel. Long. p. 2215; 2222 P.; just as the consonant i (j) and the vowel i were regarded as two distinct letters; v. the letter J.

  1. I. The sound of V seems to have been the same with that of English initial W. It corresponded to the Æolic digamma; hence it is called, Quint. 12, 10, 29, Aeolica littera, and the emperor Claudius used the Greek digamma inverted F [??] to represent it (because in its proper position it already formed the Latin letter F), Quint. 1, 7, 26; Prisc. p. 545 sq. P.; Gell. 14, 5, 2; v. also the inscrr. of the period during and immediately succeeding the reign of Claudius, Inscr. Orell. 710 sq.; Marini Atti, p. 97. In very many words which were originally common to both languages, the initial or medial v in Latin represents a lost digamma in Greek; cf.: ver, ἦρ; vis, ἴς; video, ΙΔ; vestis, ἐσθής; vitulus, ἰταλός; vomo, ἐμέω; voco, ἔπω; volvo, εἴλω; vinum, οἰνος; viola, ἴον; vespera, ἑσπέρα; Vesta, Ἑστία; silva, ὕλη; ovis, ὄϊς; divus, δῖος; aevum, αἰών; scaevus, σκαιός; vicus, οἶκος; levis, λεῖος al. (For a full discussion of the sound of V, see Roby, Gram. I. praef. p. xxxiii. sqq.).
  2. II. V has the closest affinity to the vowel u, and hence, in the course of composition and inflection, it often passed into the latter: solvo, solutum, from solvĭtum, solŭĭtum; caveo, cautum, from cavitum; fautor, from faveo; lautum, from lavo; nauta, from navita; audeo, cf. avidus; neu, seu, from neve, sive; tui, cf. Sanscr. tvam; sui, Sanscr. sva-; suavis, Sanscr. svadus, and is resolved into it by the poets from prosodial necessity: silŭa (trisyl.) for silva; dissŏlŭo, evŏlŭam (quadrisyl.), for dissolvam, evolvam; dissŏlŭenda, evolŭisse (quinquasyl.), for dissolvenda, evolvisse, etc., just as, for the same cause, although less freq., u passed into v: gēnva, tēnvis (dissyl.), for gēnŭa, tĕnŭis; tēnvĭa, tēnvĭus (trisyl.), for tĕnŭĭa, tĕnŭĭus.
    For the affinity of v to b, v. the letter B.
  3. III. V as a medial between two vowels was very freq. elided, esp. in inflection, and the word underwent in consequence a greater or less contraction: amavisti, amāsti; deleverunt, delērunt; novisti, nōsti; audivisti, audīsti, or audiisti; siveris, siris, or sieris; obliviscor, oblitus; dives, dis; aeviternus, aeternus; divitior, ditior; bovibus, bubus, etc.; providens, prudens; movimentum, momentum; provorsus, prorsus; si vis, sis; si vultis, sultis; Jovis pater, Juppiter; mage volo, mavolo, malo; non volo, nolo, etc. An example of the elision of v without a further contraction of the word is found in seorsus, from sevorsus (v. seorsus).
    This etymological suppression of v is to be distinguished from its purely orthographical omission before or after u in ancient MSS. and inscriptions, as serus for servus, noum for novum, festius for festivus, Pacuius for Pacuvius; cf. the letters J and Q.
    V is sometimes elided after a mute: dis for dvis from duo; likewise after s: sibi for svibi (from su-ibi); sis, sas, sos, for suis, suas, suos; sultis for si vultis; so Lat. si corresponds to Umbr. sve and Osc. svai; v. esp. Corss. Ausspr. 1, p. 310 sqq.
  4. IV. As an abbreviation, V (as the sign of the consonant) stands for vir, vivus, vixit, voto, vale, verba, etc.; V. C., or also VC., vir clarissimus; VCP., voti compos posuit; V. V., virgo Vestalis; V. F. Q. D. E. R. F. P. D. E. R. I. C., verba fecerunt. Quid de re fieri placeret, de re ita censuerunt.
    As a numeral, the letter V stands for half of the geometrical cross X or ten, Zumpt, Gr. § 115 Anm. 1.