The three Ancient pictograph possibilities for this letter are , and . The word tsad means “side,” but is also related to the idea of a stronghold, which is often built on the side of a mountain. The pictograph is a picture of a trail as leading up to a destination or stronghold. Most ancient Semitic alphabets used pictographs which closely resemble , indicating that this was most likely the original form of the letter.

The modern name for this letter is tsade, also meaning side, and is a child root from the word tsad . The phonetic sound of this letter is a “ts” in both ancient and modern Hebrew.

The early pictograph evolved into in the Middle Semitic script and continued to evolve into in the Late Semitic Script. From the middle Semitic script came the Modern Hebrew צ and ץ. Modern Greek and Latin have no letter derived from this Semitic letter.

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