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Lowercase characters evolved from several hand written or cursive letterforms. Some of the most notable are various uncial forms and those of the carolingian minuscule. As the handwritten characters evolved, they developed ascenders and descenders that extended beyond the baseline and x-height. Larger characters, often differing in form from the smaller characters, were used to demarcate important names or the beginnings of pages or sections. These larger characters were often based on lapidary forms.
The name lowercase is derived from the practice of placing the printing case of miniscule characters below the case of caps.
See also Uppercase.