(Image source from: The Canadian Encyclopedia)
There are certain alphabetical characters or terms in English that differs in pronunciation from country to country. While most of the British natives say “Z” as “zed,” most of the Americans pronounce it is as “zee.”
However, if you head to England, Ireland, or any other English-speaking country, you’ll find that most natives refer to the same letter as zed.
You have to go back to the origins of the English alphabet itself to understand this difference in pronunciation. The British zed is the older of the two pronunciations, and it dates back to the 1400s.
The pronunciation stems from Latin and Greek, as both ancient languages have a similarly pronounced equivalent: zeta.
(Image source from: MSN.com)
As to why people in the United States call “z”, “zee”, it is thought that this is likely just adopted from the pronunciation of the letters “bee”, “cee”, “dee”, “eee”, “gee”, “pee”, “tee”, and “vee”. In the 1800s, the pronunciation took off when Charles Bradlee wrote the famous alphabet song and included zee instead of zed to rhyme with me, essentially solidifying the newer pronunciation as the de facto diction for Americans.
One etymology enthusiast, Paul Anthony Jones, speculates on his blog that Americans may have adapted the more modern pronunciation “to make a stand - no matter how small it might seem - against British control” after the Revolutionary War, though it’s just as likely that colonists adopted the pronunciation because it was easier to understand.
By Sowmya Sangam