The Info List - Greek Alphabet

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(i) (i) (i) (i) (i)

The GREEK ALPHABET has been used to write the Greek language
Greek language
since the late 9th century BC or early 8th century BC It was derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet , and was the first alphabetic script to have distinct letters for vowels as well as consonants. It is the ancestor of the Latin and Cyrillic scripts . Apart from its use in writing the Greek language, in both its ancient and its modern forms, the Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
today also serves as a source of technical symbols and labels in many domains of mathematics, science and other fields.

In its classical and modern forms, the alphabet has 24 letters, ordered from alpha to omega . Like Latin and Cyrillic, Greek originally had only a single form of each letter; it developed the letter case distinction between upper-case and lower-case forms in parallel with Latin during the modern era .

Sound values and conventional transcriptions for some of the letters differ between Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
and Modern Greek usage, because the pronunciation of Greek has changed significantly between the 5th century BC and today. Modern and Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
use different diacritics . The traditional orthography, which is used for Ancient Greek and sometimes for Modern Greek, has many diacritics, such as accent marks for pitch accent ("polytonic"), the breathing marks for the presence and absence of the initial /h/ sound, and the iota subscript for the final historical /i/ sound. In standard Modern Greek spelling, orthography has been simplified to the monotonic system, which uses only two diacritics: the acute accent and diaeresis .


* 1 Letters

* 1.1 Sound values * 1.2 Digraphs and letter combinations * 1.3 Diacritics * 1.4 Romanization

* 2 History

* 2.1 Origins * 2.2 Archaic variants * 2.3 Letter names * 2.4 Letter shapes

* 3 Derived alphabets

* 4 Other uses

* 4.1 Use for other languages

* 4.1.1 Antiquity * 4.1.2 Middle Ages * 4.1.3 Early modern

* 4.2 In mathematics and science * 4.3 Astronomy * 4.4 International Phonetic Alphabet
* 4.5 Use as numerals * 4.6 Use in naming student fraternities and sororities

* 5 Glyph variants

* 6 Computer encodings

* 6.1 ISO/IEC 8859-7

* 6.2 Greek in Unicode

* 6.2.1 Combining and letter-free diacritics

* 6.3 Encodings with a subset of the Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet

* 7 Chapter letters * 8 See also * 9 Notes * 10 References * 11 Bibliography * 12 External links




α alpha , άλφα

β beta , βήτα

γ gamma , γάμμα , ~ , ~

δ delta , δέλτα

ε epsilon , έψιλον

ζ zeta , ζήτα A

η eta , ήτα

θ theta , θήτα

ι iota , ιώτα

, ,

Κ κ kappa , κάππα


Λ λ lambda , λάμδα

Μ μ mu , μυ

A Or .



Ν ν nu , νυ

ξ xi , ξι

Ο ο omicron , όμικρον

Π π pi , πι

ρ rho , ρώ

Σ σ/ς sigma , σίγμα


Τ τ tau , ταυ

Υ υ upsilon , ύψιλον

Φ φ phi , φι

Χ χ chi , χι


Ψ ψ psi , ψι

ω omega , ωμέγα


* ^ For example, ἀγκών. * ^ For example, εγγραφή. * ^ For example, εγγεγραμμένος. * ^ For example, βια. * ^ For example, μια.


Main article: Greek orthography Further information: Manners of articulation

In both Ancient and Modern Greek, the letters of the Greek alphabet have fairly stable and consistent symbol-to-sound mappings, making pronunciation of words largely predictable. Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
spelling was generally near-phonemic. For a number of letters, sound values differ considerably between Ancient and Modern Greek, because their pronunciation has followed a set of systematic phonological shifts that affected the language in its post-classical stages.

Among consonant letters, all letters that denoted voiced plosive consonants (/b, d, g/) and aspirated plosives (/pʰ, tʰ, kʰ/) in Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
stand for corresponding fricative sounds in Modern Greek. The correspondences are as follows:



Labial Β
β /b / /v / Φ φ /pʰ / /f /

Dental Δ
δ /d / /ð / Θ
θ /tʰ / /θ /

Dorsal Γ
γ /ɡ / ~ Χ χ /kʰ / ~

Among the vowel symbols, Modern Greek sound values reflect the radical simplification of the vowel system of post-classical Greek, merging multiple formerly distinct vowel phonemes into a much smaller number. This leads to several groups of vowel letters denoting identical sounds today. Modern Greek orthography remains true to the historical spellings in most of these cases. As a consequence, the spellings of words in Modern Greek are often not predictable from the pronunciation alone, while the reverse mapping, from spelling to pronunciation, is usually regular and predictable.

The following vowel letters and digraphs are involved in the mergers:


η ɛː > i Ω
ω ɔː > o

ι i (ː) Ο ο o

ει ei Ε
ε e > e

Υ υ u (ː) > y Α Ι
αι ai

οι oi > y

υι yː > y

Modern Greek speakers typically use the same, modern, sound-symbol mappings in reading Greek of all historical stages. In other countries, students of Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
may use a variety of conventional approximations of the historical sound system in pronouncing Ancient Greek.


Several letter combinations have special conventional sound values different from those of their single components. Among them are several digraphs of vowel letters that formerly represented diphthongs but are now monophthongized. In addition to the three mentioned above (⟨ει, αι, οι⟩) (and in some cases the ancient Greek υι, for example υιός), there is also ⟨ου⟩, pronounced /u/. The Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
diphthongs ⟨αυ⟩, ⟨ευ⟩ and ⟨ηυ⟩ are pronounced , and respectively in voicing environments in Modern Greek (or alternatively as , and respectively in devoicing environments) The more ancient combination ⟨ωυ⟩ or ⟨ωϋ⟩ can occur in ancient especially in Ionic texts or in personal names. The Modern Greek consonant combinations ⟨μπ⟩ and ⟨ντ⟩ stand for and (or and ) respectively; ⟨τζ⟩ stands for and ⟨τσ⟩ stands for . In addition, both in Ancient and Modern Greek, the letter ⟨γ⟩, before another velar consonant , stands for the velar nasal ; thus ⟨γγ⟩ and ⟨γκ⟩ are pronounced like English ⟨ng⟩. (Analogously to ⟨μπ⟩ and ⟨ντ⟩, ⟨γκ⟩ is also used to stand for .) There are also the combinations ⟨γχ⟩ and ⟨γξ⟩.










Main article: Greek diacritics

In the polytonic orthography traditionally used for ancient Greek, the stressed vowel of each word carries one of three accent marks: either the acute accent (ά), the grave accent (ὰ), or the circumflex accent (α̃ or α̑). These signs were originally designed to mark different forms of the phonological pitch accent in Ancient Greek. By the time their use became conventional and obligatory in Greek writing, in late antiquity, pitch accent was evolving into a single stress accent , and thus the three signs have not corresponded to a phonological distinction in actual speech ever since. In addition to the accent marks, every word-initial vowel must carry either of two so-called "breathing marks": the rough breathing (ἁ), marking an /h/ sound at the beginning of a word, or the smooth breathing (ἀ), marking its absence. The letter rho (ρ), although not a vowel, also carries a rough breathing in word-initial position. If a rho was geminated within a word, the first ρ always had the smooth breathing and the second the rough breathing (ῤῥ) leading to the transiliteration rrh.

The vowel letters ⟨α, η, ω⟩ carry an additional diacritic in certain words, the so-called iota subscript , which has the shape of a small vertical stroke or a miniature ⟨ι⟩ below the letter. This iota represents the former offglide of what were originally long diphthongs, ⟨ᾱι, ηι, ωι⟩ (i.e. /aːi, ɛːi, ɔːi/), which became monophthongized during antiquity.

Another diacritic used in Greek is the diaeresis (¨), indicating a hiatus .

In 1982, a new, simplified orthography, known as "monotonic", was adopted for official use in Modern Greek by the Greek state. It uses only a single accent mark, the acute (also known in this context as _tonos_, i.e. simply "accent"), marking the stressed syllable of polysyllabic words, and occasionally the diaeresis to distinguish diphthongal from digraph readings in pairs of vowel letters, making this monotonic system very similar to the accent mark system used in Spanish . The polytonic system is still conventionally used for writing Ancient Greek, while in some book printing and generally in the usage of conservative writers it can still also be found in use for Modern Greek.

Although it is not a diacritic, the comma has a similar function as a silent letter in a handful of Greek words, principally distinguishing ό,τι (_ó,ti_, "whatever") from ότι (_óti_, "that").


Main article: Romanization of Greek

There are many different methods of rendering Greek text or Greek names in the Latin script. The form in which classical Greek names are conventionally rendered in English goes back to the way Greek loanwords were incorporated into Latin in antiquity. In this system, ⟨κ⟩ is replaced with ⟨c⟩, the diphthongs ⟨αι⟩ and ⟨οι⟩ are rendered as ⟨ae⟩ and ⟨oe⟩ (or ⟨æ,œ⟩) respectively; and ⟨ει⟩ and ⟨ου⟩ are simplified to ⟨i⟩ and ⟨u⟩ respectively. In modern scholarly transliteration of Ancient Greek, ⟨κ⟩ will usually be rendered as ⟨k⟩, and the vowel combinations ⟨αι, οι, ει, ου⟩ as ⟨ai, oi, ei, ou⟩ respectively. The letters ⟨θ⟩ and ⟨φ⟩ are generally rendered as ⟨th⟩ and ⟨ph⟩; ⟨χ⟩ as either ⟨ch⟩ or ⟨kh⟩; and word-initial ⟨ρ⟩ as ⟨rh⟩.

For Modern Greek, there are multiple different transcription conventions. They differ widely, depending on their purpose, on how close they stay to the conventional letter correspondences of Ancient Greek-based transcription systems, and to what degree they attempt either an exact letter-by-letter transliteration or rather a phonetically based transcription. Standardized formal transcription systems have been defined by the International Organization for Standardization (as ISO 843 ), by the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names , by the Library of Congress , and others.


Main article: History of the Greek alphabet


Dipylon inscription
Dipylon inscription
, one of the oldest known samples of the use of the Greek alphabet, c. 740 BC

During the Mycenaean period , from around the 16th century to the 12th century BC, Linear B
Linear B
was used to write the earliest attested form of the Greek language, known as Mycenaean Greek . This writing system, unrelated to the Greek alphabet, last appeared in the 13th century BC. In the late 9th century BC or early 8th century BC, the Greek alphabet emerged. The period between the use of the two writing systems, during which no Greek texts are attested, is known the Greek Dark Ages . The Greeks adopted the alphabet from the earlier Phoenician alphabet , one of the closely related scripts used for the West Semitic languages . However, the Phoenician alphabet is limited to consonants. When it was adopted for writing Greek, certain consonants were adapted to express vowels. The use of both vowels and consonants makes Greek the first alphabet in the narrow sense, as distinguished from the abjads used in Semitic languages , which have letters only for consonants.

Greek initially took over all of the 22 letters of Phoenician. Five were reassigned to denote vowel sounds: the glide consonants /j/ (_yodh _) and /w/ (_waw _) were used for (Ι, _iota _) and (Υ, _upsilon _) respectively; the glottal stop consonant /ʔ/ (_aleph _) was used for (Α, _alpha _); the pharyngeal /ʕ/ (_ʿayin _) was turned into (Ο, _omicron _); and the letter for /h/ (_he _) was turned into (Ε, _epsilon _). A doublet of waw was also borrowed as a consonant for (Ϝ, digamma ). In addition, the Phoenician letter for the emphatic glottal /ħ/ (_heth _) was borrowed in two different functions by different dialects of Greek: as a letter for /h/ (Η, heta ) by those dialects that had such a sound, and as an additional vowel letter for the long /ɛː/ (Η, eta ) by those dialects that lacked the consonant. Eventually, a seventh vowel letter for the long /ɔː/ (Ω, omega ) was introduced.

Greek also introduced three new consonant letters for its aspirated plosive sounds and consonant clusters: Φ (_phi _) for /pʰ/, Χ (_chi _) for /kʰ/ and Ψ (_psi _) for /ps/. In western Greek variants, Χ was instead used for /ks/ and Ψ for /kʰ/ The origin of these letters is a matter of some debate.


_ aleph /ʔ /

Α alpha /a /, /aː /

beth /b /

Β beta /b /

gimel /ɡ /

Γ gamma /ɡ /

daleth /d /

Δ delta /d /

he /h /

Ε epsilon /e /, /eː /

waw /w /

Ϝ (digamma )_ /w /

_ zayin /z /

Ζ zeta (?)

heth /ħ /

Η eta /h /, /ɛː /

teth /tˤ /

Θ theta /tʰ /

yodh /j /

Ι iota /i /, /iː /

kaph /k /

Κ kappa /k /

lamedh /l /

Λ lambda /l /

mem /m /

Μ mu /m /

nun /n /

Ν nu /n /


samekh /s /

Ξ xi /ks/

ʿayin /ʕ /

Ο omicron /o /, /oː /

pe /p /

Π pi /p /

ṣade /sˤ /

Ϻ (san )_ /s /

_ qoph /q /

Ϙ (koppa )_ /k /

_ reš /r /

Ρ rho /r /

šin /ʃ /

Σ sigma /s /

taw /t /

Τ tau /t /

(waw )_ /w /

Υ upsilon /u /, /uː /

Φ phi /pʰ /

Χ chi /kʰ /

Ψ psi /ps/

Ω omega /ɔː /

Early Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
on pottery in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens

Three of the original Phoenician letters dropped out of use before the alphabet took its classical shape: the letter Ϻ (_san _), which had been in competition with Σ (_sigma _) denoting the same phoneme /s/; the letter Ϙ (_qoppa _), which was redundant with Κ (_kappa _) for /k/, and Ϝ (_digamma _), whose sound value /w/ dropped out of the spoken language before or during the classical period.

Greek was originally written predominantly from right to left, just like Phoenician, but scribes could freely alternate between directions. For a time, a writing style with alternating right-to-left and left-to-right lines (called _boustrophedon _, literally "ox-turning", after the manner of an ox ploughing a field) was common, until in the classical period the left-to-right writing direction became the norm. Individual letter shapes were mirrored depending on the writing direction of the current line.


Main article: Archaic Greek alphabets

There were initially numerous local variants of the Greek alphabet, which differed in the use and non-use of the additional vowel and consonant symbols and several other features. A form of western Greek native to Euboea
, which among other things had Χ for /ks/, was transplanted to Italy by early Greek colonists, and became the ancestor of the Old Italic alphabets and ultimately, through Etruscan , of the Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
. Athens
used a local form of the alphabet until the 5th century BC; it lacked the letters Ξ
and Ψ as well as the vowel symbols Η
and Ω. The classical 24-letter alphabet that became the norm later was originally the local alphabet of Ionia ; this was adopted by Athens
in 403 BC under archon Eucleides and in most other parts of the Greek-speaking world during the 4th century BC.


When the Greeks adapted the Phoenician alphabet, they took over not only the letter shapes and sound values, but also the names by which the sequence of the alphabet could be recited and memorized. In Phoenician, each letter name was a word that began with the sound represented by that letter; thus _ʾaleph _, the word for "ox", was used as the name for the glottal stop /ʔ/, _bet _, or "house", for the /b/ sound, and so on. When the letters were adopted by the Greeks, most of the Phoenician names were maintained or modified slightly to fit Greek phonology; thus, _ʾaleph, bet, gimel_ became _alpha, beta, gamma_.

The Greek names of the following letters are more or less straightforward continuations of their Phoenician antecedents. Between Ancient and Modern Greek they have remained largely unchanged, except that their pronunciation has followed regular sound changes along with other words (for instance, in the name of _beta_, ancient /b/ regularly changed to modern /v/, and ancient /ɛː/ to modern /i/, resulting in the modern pronunciation _vita_). The name of lambda is attested in early sources as λάβδα besides λάμβδα; in Modern Greek the spelling is often λάμδα, reflecting pronunciation. Similarly, iota is sometimes spelled γιώτα in Modern Greek ( is conventionally transcribed ⟨γ{ι,η,υ,ει,οι}⟩ word-initially and intervocalically before back vowels and /a/). In the tables below, the Greek names of all letters are given in their traditional polytonic spelling; in modern practice, like with all other words, they are usually spelled in the simplified monotonic system.

_ Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
The names of the letters in spoken Standard Modern Greek -------------------------

Problems playing this file? See media help ._



Α ἄλφα _aleph_ alpha

/ˈælfə/ (_ listen )

Β βῆτα beth_ beta

/ˈbiːtə/ , US : /ˈbeɪtə/

Γ γάμμα _gimel_ gamma


Δ δέλτα _daleth_ delta


Η ἦτα _heth_ eta ,

/ˈiːtə/ , US : /ˈeɪtə/

Θ θῆτα _teth_ theta

/ˈθiːtə/ , US : /ˈθeɪtə/ (_ listen )

Ι ἰῶτα yodh_ iota

/aɪˈoʊtə/ (_ listen )

Κ κάππα kaph_ kappa

/ˈkæpə/ (_ listen )

Λ λάμβδα lamedh_ lambda

/ˈlæmdə/ (_ listen )

Μ μῦ mem_ mu

/ˈmjuː/ (_ listen ); occasionally US : /ˈmuː/

Ν νῦ nun_ nu

/ˈnjuː/ (US : /ˈnuː/ )

Ρ ῥῶ _reš_ rho

/ˈroʊ/ (_ listen )

Τ ταῦ taw_ tau

/ˈtaʊ/ or /ˈtɔː/

In the cases of the three historical sibilant letters below, the correspondence between Phoenician and Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
is less clear, with apparent mismatches both in letter names and sound values. The early history of these letters (and the fourth sibilant letter, obsolete san ) has been a matter of some debate. Here too, the changes in the pronunciation of the letter names between Ancient and Modern Greek are regular.



Ζ ζῆτα _zayin_ zeta

/ˈziːtə/ , US : /ˈzeɪtə/

Ξ ξεῖ, ξῖ _samekh_ xi

/ˈzaɪ/ , /ˈksaɪ/

Σ σίγμα _šin_ siɡma


In the following group of consonant letters, the older forms of the names in Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
were spelled with -εῖ, indicating an original pronunciation with _-ē_. In Modern Greek these names are spelled with -ι.



Ξ ξεῖ, ξῖ xi

/ˈzaɪ/ , /ˈksaɪ/

Π πεῖ, πῖ pi


Φ φεῖ, φῖ phi


Χ χεῖ, χῖ chi

/ˈkaɪ/ ( listen )

Ψ ψεῖ, ψῖ psi

/ˈsaɪ/ , /ˈpsaɪ/ ( listen )

The following group of vowel letters were originally called simply by their sound values as long vowels: ē, ō, ū, and ɔ. Their modern names contain adjectival qualifiers that were added during the Byzantine period, to distinguish between letters that had become confusable. Thus, the letters ⟨ο⟩ and ⟨ω⟩, pronounced identically by this time, were called _o mikron_ ("small o") and _o mega_ ("big o") respectively. The letter ⟨ε⟩ was called _e psilon_ ("plain e") to distinguish it from the identically pronounced digraph ⟨αι⟩, while, similarly, ⟨υ⟩, which at this time was pronounced , was called _y psilon_ ("plain y") to distinguish it from the identically pronounced digraph ⟨οι⟩.



Ε εἶ ἐ ψιλόν ἔψιλον epsilon

/ˈɛpsᵻlɒn/ , some UK : /ɛpˈsaɪlən/

Ο οὖ ὀ μικρόν ὄμικρον omicron

/ˈɒmᵻkrɒn/ ( listen ), traditional UK : /oʊˈmaɪkrɒn/

Υ ὖ ψιλόν ὔψιλον upsilon ,

/juːpˈsaɪlən/ , /ˈʊpsᵻlɒn/ , also UK : /ʌpˈsaɪlən/ , US : /ˈʌpsᵻlɒn/

Ω ὦ ὠ μέγα ὠμέγα omega

US : /oʊˈmeɪɡə/ , traditional UK : /ˈoʊmᵻɡə/

Some dialects of the Aegean and Cypriot have retained long consonants and pronounce and ; also, ήτα has come to be pronounced in Cypriot.


_ A 16th-century edition of the New Testament ( Gospel of John
Gospel of John
), printed in a renaissance typeface by Claude Garamond Theocritus Idyll 1, lines 12-14, in script with abbreviations and ligatures from a caption in an illustrated edition of Theocritus. Lodewijk Caspar Valckenaer: Carmina bucolica_, Leiden 1779.

Like Latin and other alphabetic scripts, Greek originally had only a single form of each letter, without a distinction between uppercase and lowercase. This distinction is an innovation of the modern era, drawing on different lines of development of the letter shapes in earlier handwriting.

The oldest forms of the letters in antiquity are majuscule forms. Besides the upright, straight inscriptional forms (capitals) found in stone carvings or incised pottery, more fluent writing styles adapted for handwriting on soft materials were also developed during antiquity. Such handwriting has been preserved especially from papyrus manuscripts in Egypt
since the Hellenistic period . Ancient handwriting developed two distinct styles: uncial writing, with carefully drawn, rounded block letters of about equal size, used as a book hand for carefully produced literary and religious manuscripts, and cursive writing, used for everyday purposes. The cursive forms approached the style of lowercase letter forms, with ascenders and descenders, as well as many connecting lines and ligatures between letters.

In the 9th and 10th century, uncial book hands were replaced with a new, more compact writing style, with letter forms partly adapted from the earlier cursive. This minuscule style remained the dominant form of handwritten Greek into the modern era. During the Renaissance
, western printers adopted the minuscule letter forms as lowercase printed typefaces, while modelling uppercase letters on the ancient inscriptional forms. The orthographic practice of using the letter case distinction for marking proper names, titles etc. developed in parallel to the practice in Latin and other western languages.



α Α

β Β

γ Γ

δ Δ

ε Ε

ζ Ζ

η Η

θ Θ

ι Ι

κ Κ

λ Λ

μ Μ

ν Ν

ξ Ξ

ο Ο

π Π

ρ Ρ

σς Σ

τ Τ

υ Υ

φ Φ

χ Χ

ψ Ψ

ω Ω


The earliest Etruscan abecedarium , from Marsiliana d'Albegna, still almost identical with contemporaneous archaic Greek alphabets A page from the Codex Argenteus , a 6th-century Bible
manuscript in Gothic

The Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
was the model for various others:

* The Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
, together with various other ancient scripts in Italy , adopted from an archaic form of the Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
brought to Italy by Greek colonists in the late 8th century BC, via Etruscan * The Gothic alphabet , devised in the 4th century AD to write the Gothic language , based on a combination of Greek and Latin models * The Glagolitic alphabet , devised in the 9th century AD for writing Old Church Slavonic * The Cyrillic script , which replaced the Glagolitic alphabet shortly afterwards

It is also considered a possible ancestor of the Armenian alphabet
Armenian alphabet
, which in turn influenced the development of the Georgian alphabet .



Apart from the daughter alphabets listed above, which were adapted from Greek but developed into separate writing systems, the Greek alphabet has also been adopted at various times and in various places to write other languages. For some of them, additional letters were introduced.


* Most of the alphabets of Asia Minor , in use c. 800–300 BC to write languages like Lydian and Phrygian , were the early Greek alphabet with only slight modifications – as were the original Old Italic alphabets . * Some Paleo-Balkan languages , including Thracian . For other neighboring languages or dialects, such as Ancient Macedonian , isolated words are preserved in Greek texts, but no continuous texts are preserved. * The Greco-Iberian alphabet was used for writing the ancient Iberian language
Iberian language
in parts of modern Spain. * Gaulish inscriptions (in modern France) used the Greek alphabet until the Roman conquest * The Hebrew and Aramaic text of the Bible
was written in Greek letters in Origen
's Hexapla . * The Bactrian language , an Iranian language spoken in what is now Afghanistan
, was written in the Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
during the Kushan Empire (65–250 AD). It adds an extra letter ⟨þ ⟩ for the _sh_ sound . * The Coptic alphabet adds eight letters derived from Demotic . It is still used today, mostly in Egypt, to write Coptic , the liturgical language of Egyptian Christians. Letters usually retain an uncial form different from the forms used for Greek today.

Middle Ages

* An 8th-century Arabic fragment preserves a text in the Greek alphabet. * An Old Ossetic inscription of the 10th–12th centuries found in Arxyz , the oldest known attestation of an Ossetic language. * The Old Nubian language of Makuria (modern Sudan) adds three Coptic letters, two letters derived from Meroitic script , and a digraph of two Greek gammas used for the velar nasal sound. * Various South Slavic dialects, similar to the modern Bulgarian and Macedonian languages , have been written in Greek script. The modern South Slavic languages now use modified Cyrillic alphabets .

Early Modern

_ 18th century title page of a book printed in Karamanli Turkish

* Turkish spoken by Orthodox Christians ( Karamanlides _) was often written in Greek script, and called _Karamanlidika _. * Tosk Albanian was often written using the Greek alphabet, starting in about 1500. The printing press at Moschopolis published several Albanian texts in Greek script during the 18th century. It was only in 1908 that the Monastir conference standardized a Latin orthography for both Tosk and Gheg . Greek spelling is still occasionally used for the local Albanian dialects ( Arvanitika ) in Greece. * Aromanian (Vlach) has been written in Greek characters. There is not yet a standardized orthography for Aromanian, but it appears that one based on the Romanian orthography will be adopted. * Gagauz , a Turkic language of the northeast Balkans. * Surguch , a Turkic language spoken by a small group of Orthodox Christians in northern Greece. * Urum or Greek Tatar. * Pomak language in Western Thrace . * Judaeo- Spanish language , a Jewish dialect of Spanish, has occasionally been published in Greek characters in Greece.


Main article: Greek letters used in mathematics, science, and engineering

Greek symbols are used as symbols in mathematics , physics and other sciences . Many symbols have traditional uses, such as lower case epsilon (ε) for an arbitrarily small positive number , lower case pi (π) for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter , capital sigma (Σ) for summation , and lower case sigma (σ) for standard deviation .


Main article: Bayer designation

Greek letters are used to denote the brighter stars within each of the eighty-eight constellations . In most constellations the brightest star is designated Alpha
and the next brightest Beta
etc. For example, the brightest star in the constellation of Centaurus
is known as Alpha Centauri . For historical reasons, the Greek designations of some constellations begin with a lower ranked letter.


Several Greek letters are used as phonetic symbols in the International Phonetic Alphabet
(IPA). Several of them denote fricative consonants; the rest stand for variants of vowel sounds. The glyph shapes used for these letters in specialized phonetic fonts is sometimes slightly different from the conventional shapes in Greek typography proper, with glyphs typically being more upright and using serifs , to make them conform more with the typographical character of other, Latin-based letters in the phonetic alphabet. Nevertheless, in the Unicode
encoding standard, the following three phonetic symbols are considered the same characters as the corresponding Greek letters proper:

β beta U+03B2 voiced bilabial fricative

θ theta U+03B8 voiceless dental fricative

χ chi U+03C7 voiceless uvular fricative

On the other hand, the following phonetic letters have Unicode representations separate from their Greek alphabetic use, either because their conventional typographic shape is too different from the original, or because they also have secondary uses as regular alphabetic characters in some Latin-based alphabets, including separate Latin uppercase letters distinct from the Greek ones.


φ phi ɸ U+0278 Latin small letter phi Voiceless bilabial fricative

γ gamma ɣ U+0263 Latin small letter gamma Voiced velar fricative Ɣ U+0194

ε epsilon ɛ U+025B Latin small letter open e (alias: epsilon) Open-mid front unrounded vowel Ɛ U+0190

α alpha ɑ U+0251 Latin small letter alpha Open back unrounded vowel Ɑ U+2C6D

υ upsilon ʊ U+028A Latin small letter upsilon near-close near-back rounded vowel Ʊ U+01B1

ι iota ɩ U+0269 Latin small letter iota Obsolete for near-close near-front unrounded vowel now ɪ Ɩ U+0196

The symbol in Americanist phonetic notation for the voiceless alveolar lateral fricative is the Greek letter lambda ⟨λ⟩, but ⟨ɬ⟩ in the IPA. The IPA symbol for the palatal lateral approximant is ⟨ʎ⟩, which looks similar to lambda, but is actually an inverted lowercase _y_.


Main article: Greek numerals

Greek letters were also used to write numbers. In the classical Ionian system, the first nine letters of the alphabet stood for the numbers from 1 to 9, the next nine letters stood for the multiples of 10, from 10 to 90, and the next nine letters stood for the multiples of 100, from 100 to 900. For this purpose, in addition to the 24 letters which by that time made up the standard alphabet, three otherwise obsolete letters were retained or revived: digamma ⟨Ϝ⟩ for 6, koppa ⟨Ϙ⟩ for 90, and a rare Ionian letter for , today called sampi ⟨Ͳ⟩, for 900. This system has remained in use in Greek up to the present day, although today it is only employed for limited purposes such as enumerating chapters in a book, similar to the way Roman numerals are used in English. The three extra symbols are today written as ⟨ϛ⟩, ⟨ϟ⟩ and ⟨ϡ⟩ respectively. To mark a letter as a numeral sign, a small stroke called _keraia_ is added to the right of it.

Α ʹ αʹ alpha 1

Β ʹ βʹ beta 2

Γ ʹ γʹ gamma 3

Δ ʹ δʹ delta 4

Ε ʹ εʹ epsilon 5

ϛʹ _digamma (stigma)_ 6

Ζ ʹ ζʹ zeta 7

Η ʹ ηʹ eta 8

Θ ʹ θʹ theta 9

Ι ʹ ιʹ iota 10

Κ ʹ κʹ kappa 20

Λ ʹ λʹ lambda 30

Μ ʹ μʹ mu 40

Ν ʹ νʹ nu 50

Ξ ʹ ξʹ xi 60

Ο ʹ οʹ omicron 70

Π ʹ πʹ pi 80

ϟʹ _koppa _ 90

Ρ ʹ ρʹ rho 100

Σ ʹ σʹ sigma 200

Τ ʹ τʹ tau 300

Υ ʹ υʹ upsilon 400

Φ ʹ φʹ phi 500

Χ ʹ χʹ chi 600

Ψ ʹ ψʹ psi 700

Ω ʹ ωʹ omega 800

ϡʹ _sampi _ 900


In North America, many college fraternities and sororities are named with combinations of Greek letters, and are hence also known as "Greek letter organizations". This naming tradition was initiated by the foundation of the Phi
Society , in 1776.


Some letters can occur in variant shapes, mostly inherited from medieval minuscule handwriting. While their use in normal typography of Greek is purely a matter of font styles, some such variants have been given separate encodings in Unicode

* The symbol ϐ ("curled beta") is a cursive variant form of beta (β). In the French tradition of Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
typography, β is used word-initially, and ϐ is used word-internally. * The letter epsilon can occur in two equally frequent stylistic variants, either shaped {displaystyle epsilon ,!} _ ('lunate epsilon', like a semicircle with a stroke) or {displaystyle varepsilon ,!} (similar to a reversed number 3). The symbol ϵ (U+03F5) is designated specifically for the lunate form, used as a technical symbol. * The symbol ϑ ("script theta") is a cursive form of theta (θ), frequent in handwriting, and used with a specialized meaning as a technical symbol. * The symbol ϰ ("kappa symbol") is a cursive form of kappa (κ), used as a technical symbol. * The symbol ϖ ("variant pi") is an archaic script form of pi (π), also used as a technical symbol. * The letter rho (ρ) can occur in different stylistic variants, with the descending tail either going straight down or curled to the right. The symbol ϱ (U+03F1) is designated specifically for the curled form, used as a technical symbol. * The letter sigma , in standard orthography, has two variants: ς, used only at the ends of words, and σ, used elsewhere. The form ϲ ("lunate sigma ", resembling a Latin c _) is a medieval stylistic variant that can be used in both environments without the final/non-final distinction. * The capital letter upsilon (Υ) can occur in different stylistic variants, with the upper strokes either straight like a Latin _Y_, or slightly curled. The symbol ϒ (U+03D2) is designated specifically for the curled form, ( {displaystyle , Upsilon
} ) used as a technical symbol, e.g. in physics. * The letter phi can occur in two equally frequent stylistic variants, either shaped as {displaystyle textstyle phi ,!} (a circle with a vertical stroke through it) or as {displaystyle textstyle varphi ,!} (a curled shape open at the top). The symbol ϕ (U+03D5) is designated specifically for the closed form, used as a technical symbol.


For the usage in computers, a variety of encodings have been used for Greek online, many of them documented in RFC 1947 .

The two principal ones still used today are ISO/IEC 8859-7 and Unicode
. ISO 8859-7 supports only the monotonic orthography; Unicode supports both the monotonic and polytonic orthographies.

ISO/IEC 8859-7

For the range A0–FF (hex) it follows the Unicode range
Unicode range
370–3CF (see below) except that some symbols, like ©, ½, § etc. are used where Unicode
has unused locations. Like all ISO-8859 encodings it is equal to ASCII for 00–7F (hex).


Main articles: Greek and Coptic and Greek Extended

supports polytonic orthography well enough for ordinary continuous text in modern and ancient Greek, and even many archaic forms for epigraphy . With the use of combining characters , Unicode also supports Greek philology and dialectology and various other specialized requirements. Most current text rendering engines do not render diacritics well, so, though alpha with macron and acute can be _represented_ as U+03B1 U+0304 U+0301, this rarely renders well: ᾱ́.

There are two main blocks of Greek characters in Unicode
. The first is "Greek and Coptic" (U+0370 to U+03FF). This block is based on ISO 8859-7 and is sufficient to write Modern Greek. There are also some archaic letters and Greek-based technical symbols.

This block also supports the Coptic alphabet . Formerly most Coptic letters shared codepoints with similar-looking Greek letters; but in many scholarly works, both scripts occur, with quite different letter shapes, so as of Unicode
4.1, Coptic and Greek were disunified. Those Coptic letters with no Greek equivalents still remain in this block (U+03E2 to U+03EF).

To write polytonic Greek, one may use combining diacritical marks or the precomposed characters in the "Greek Extended" block (U+1F00 to U+1FFF).

GREEK AND COPTIC Official Unicode
Consortium code chart (PDF)

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F

U+037x Ͱ ͱ Ͳ ͳ ʹ ͵ Ͷ ͷ

ͺ ͻ ͼ ͽ ; Ϳ


Ά · Έ



U+039x ΐ

U+03Ax Π Ρ

ά έ ή ί

U+03Bx ΰ α β γ δ ε ζ η θ ι κ λ μ ν ξ ο

U+03Cx π ρ ς σ τ υ φ χ ψ ω ϊ ϋ ό ύ ώ Ϗ

U+03Dx ϐ ϑ ϒ ϓ ϔ ϕ ϖ ϗ Ϙ ϙ Ϛ ϛ Ϝ ϝ Ϟ ϟ

U+03Ex Ϡ ϡ Ϣ ϣ Ϥ ϥ Ϧ ϧ Ϩ ϩ Ϫ ϫ Ϭ ϭ Ϯ ϯ

U+03Fx ϰ ϱ ϲ ϳ ϴ ϵ ϶ Ϸ ϸ Ϲ Ϻ ϻ ϼ Ͻ Ͼ Ͽ

NOTES 1.^ As of Unicode
version 10.0 2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

GREEK EXTENDED Official Unicode
Consortium code chart (PDF)

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F

U+1F0x ἀ ἁ ἂ ἃ ἄ ἅ ἆ ἇ

U+1F1x ἐ ἑ ἒ ἓ ἔ ἕ

U+1F2x ἠ ἡ ἢ ἣ ἤ ἥ ἦ ἧ

U+1F3x ἰ ἱ ἲ ἳ ἴ ἵ ἶ ἷ Ἷ

U+1F4x ὀ ὁ ὂ ὃ ὄ ὅ


U+1F6x ὠ ὡ ὢ ὣ ὤ ὥ ὦ ὧ

U+1F7x ὰ ά ὲ έ ὴ ή ὶ ί ὸ ό ὺ ύ ὼ ώ

U+1F8x ᾀ ᾁ ᾂ ᾃ ᾄ ᾅ ᾆ ᾇ

U+1F9x ᾐ ᾑ ᾒ ᾓ ᾔ ᾕ ᾖ ᾗ

U+1FAx ᾠ ᾡ ᾢ ᾣ ᾤ ᾥ ᾦ ᾧ

U+1FBx ᾰ ᾱ



U+1FDx ῐ ῑ

U+1FEx ῠ ῡ ΅ `


NOTES 1.^ As of Unicode
version 10.0 2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

Combining And Letter-free Diacritics

Combining and spacing (letter-free) diacritical marks pertaining to Greek language
Greek language


U+0300 U+0060 ( ̀) "varia / grave accent "

U+0301 U+00B4, U+0384 ( ́) "oxia / tonos / acute accent "

U+0304 U+00AF ( ̄) "macron "

U+0306 U+02D8 ( ̆) "vrachy / breve "

U+0308 U+00A8 ( ̈) "dialytika / diaeresis "

U+0313 U+02BC ( ̓) "psili / comma above" (spiritus lenis )

U+0314 U+02BD ( ̔) "dasia / reversed comma above" (spiritus asper )


( ͂) "perispomeni" (circumflex )


( ̓) "koronis " (= U+0313)

U+0344 U+0385 ( ̈́) "dialytika tonos" (deprecated, = U+0308 U+0301)

U+0345 U+037A ( ͅ) "ypogegrammeni / iota subscript ".


code pages 437 , 860 , 861 , 862 , 863 , and 865 contain the letters ΓΘΣΦΩαδεπστφ (plus β as an alternate interpretation for ß ).


Not to be confused with the Greek-letter acronyms for the names of entire fraternities (or sororities ), different chapters within the same fraternity are almost always (with a handful of exceptions) named using Greek letters as serial numbers. The founding chapter of each respective organization is its A Chapter. As an organization expands, it establishes a B Chapter, a Γ
Chapter, and so on and so forth.

In an organization that expands to more than 24 chapters, the chapter after Ω
Chapter is AA Chapter, followed by AB Chapter, etc. Each of these is still a "Chapter Letter," albeit a double-digit letter just as 10 through 99 are double-digit numbers. The Roman alphabet has a similar extended form with such double-digit letters when necessary, but it is used for columns in a table or chart rather than chapters of an organization.


* Greek ligatures * Palamedes


* ^ The letter sigma ⟨Σ⟩ has two different lowercase forms, ⟨σ⟩ and ⟨ς⟩, with ⟨ς⟩ being used in word-final position and ⟨σ⟩ elsewhere. (In some 19th-century typesetting, ⟨ς⟩ was also used word-medially at the end of a compound morpheme, e.g. "δυςκατανοήτων", marking the morpheme boundary between "δυς-κατανοήτων" ("difficult to understand"); modern standard practice is to spell "δυσκατανοήτων" with a non-final sigma.) * ^ _A_ _B_ Epsilon
⟨ε⟩ and omicron ⟨ο⟩ originally could denote both short and long vowels in pre-classical archaic Greek spelling, just like other vowel letters. They were restricted to the function of short vowel signs in classical Greek, as the long vowels /eː / and /oː / came to be spelled instead with the digraphs ⟨ει⟩ and ⟨ου⟩, having phonologically merged with a corresponding pair of former diphthongs /ei/ and /ou/ respectively.


* ^ Swiggers 1996 . * ^ _A_ _B_ Johnston 2003 . * ^ The date of the earliest inscribed objects; A.W. Johnston, "The alphabet", in N. Stampolidis and V. Karageorghis, eds, _Sea Routes from Sidon to Huelva: Interconnections in the Mediterranean_ 2003:263-76, summarizes the present scholarship on the dating. * ^ Cook 1987 , p. 9.

* ^ The Development of the Greek Alphabet
within the Chronology of the ANE (2009), Quote: "Naveh gives four major reasons why it is universally agreed that the Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
was developed from an early Phoenician alphabet. 1 According to Herodutous "the Phoenicians who came with Cadmus... brought into Hellas the alphabet, which had hitherto been unknown, as I think, to the Greeks." 2 The Greek Letters, alpha, beta, gimmel have no meaning in Greek but the meaning of most of their Semitic equivalents is known. For example, 'aleph' means 'ox', 'bet' means 'house' and 'gimmel' means 'throw stick'. 3 Early Greek letters are very similar and sometimes identical to the West Semitic letters. 4 The letter sequence between the Semitic and Greek alphabets is identical. (Naveh 1982)" * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Coulmas 1996 . * ^ _A_ _B_ Woodard 2008 , pp. 15–17 * ^ _A_ _B_ Holton, Mackridge & Philippaki-Warburton 1998 , p. 31 * ^ Hinge 2001 , pp. 212–234 * ^ Nicholas, Nick (2004). "Sigma: final versus non-final". Retrieved 2016-09-29. * ^ Horrocks 2006 , pp. 231–250 * ^ Nicolas, Nick. "Greek Unicode
Issues: Punctuation Archived 2012-08-06 at Archive.is ". 2005. Accessed 7 Oct 2014. * ^ ISO (2010). "ISO 843:1997 (Conversion of Greek characters into Latin characters)". Missing or empty url= (help ) * ^ UNGEGN Working Group on Romanization Systems (2003). "Greek". Retrieved 2012-07-15. * ^ "Greek (ALA-LC Romanization Tables)". 2010. Missing or empty url= (help ) * ^ Daniels & Bright 1996 , p. 4. * ^ Liddell & Scott 1940 , s.v. "λάβδα" * ^ Newton, B. E. (1968). "Spontaneous gemination in Cypriot Greek". _Lingua_. 20: 15–57. ISSN 0024-3841 . doi :10.1016/0024-3841(68)90130-7 . * ^ _A_ _B_ Thompson 1912 , pp. 102–103 * ^ Murdoch 2004 , p. 156 * ^ Stevenson 2007 , p. 1158 * ^ Macrakis 1996 . * ^ Sims-Williams 1997 . * ^ Miletich 1920 . * ^ Mazon & Vaillant 1938 . * ^ Kristophson 1974 , p. 11. * ^ Peyfuss 1989 . * ^ Elsie 1991 . * ^ _Verba Hispanica_ X: Los problemas del estudio de la lengua sefardí Archived 2008-04-07 at the Wayback Machine ., Katja Šmid , Ljubljana, pages 113–124: _Es interesante el hecho que en Bulgaria se imprimieron unas pocas publicaciones en alfabeto cirílico búlgaro y en Grecia en alfabeto griego._. * ^ _Handbook of the International Phonetic Association_. Cambridge: University Press. 1999. pp. 176–181. * ^ For chi and beta, separate codepoints for use in a Latin-script environment were added in Unicode
versions 7.0 (2014) and 8.0 (2015) respectively: U+AB53 "Latin small letter chi" (ꭓ) and U+A7B5 "Latin small letter beta" (ꞵ). As of 2017, the International Phonetic Association still lists the original Greek codepoints as the standard representations of the IPA symbols in question . * ^ Vincent, Fran._The history of college fraternities_.Greeklife.com, 1996, p. 1.


* Cook, B. F. (1987). _Greek inscriptions_. University of California Press/British Museum. * Coulmas, Florian (1996). _The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Writing Systems_. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-631-21481-X . * Daniels, Peter T; Bright, William (1996). _The World's Writing Systems_. Oxford University Press. * Elsie, Robert (1991). "Albanian Literature in Greek Script: the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth-Century Orthodox Tradition in Albanian Writing" (PDF). _Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies_. 15 (20). * Hinge, George (2001). _Die Sprache Alkmans: Textgeschichte und Sprachgeschichte_ (Ph.D.). University of Aarhus. * Holton, David; Mackridge, Peter; Philippaki-Warburton, Irini (1998). _Grammatiki tis ellinikis glossas_. Athens: Pataki. * Horrocks, Geoffrey (2006). _Ellinika: istoria tis glossas kai ton omiliton tis_. Athens: Estia. * Johnston, A. W. (2003). "The alphabet". In Stampolidis, N.; Karageorghis, V. _Sea Routes from Sidon to Huelva: Interconnections in the Mediterranean 16th – 6th c. B.C_. Athens: Museum of Cycladic Art. pp. 263–276. * Kristophson, Jürgen (1974). "Das Lexicon Tetraglosson des Daniil Moschopolitis". _Zeitschrift für Balkanologie_. 10: 4–128. * Liddell, Henry G; Scott, Robert (1940). _A Greek-English Lexicon_. Oxford: Clarendon. * Macrakis, Stavros M (1996). "Character codes for Greek: Problems and modern solutions". In Macrakis, Michael. _Greek letters: from tablets to pixels_. Newcastle: Oak Knoll Press. p. 265. * Mazon, André; Vaillant, André (1938). _L'Evangéliaire de Kulakia, un parler slave de Bas-Vardar_. Bibliothèque d'études balkaniques. 6. Paris: Librairie Droz. – selections from the Gospels in Macedonian. * Miletich, L. (1920). "Dva bŭlgarski ru̐kopisa s grŭtsko pismo". _Bŭlgarski starini_. 6. * Murdoch, Brian (2004). "Gothic". In Murdoch, Brian; Read, Malcolm. _Early Germanic literature and culture_. Woodbridge: Camden House. pp. 149–170. * Peyfuss, Max Demeter (1989). _Die Druckerei von Moschopolis, 1731–1769: Buchdruck und Heiligenverehrung in Erzbistum Achrida_. Wiener Archiv für Geschichte des Slawentums und Osteuropas. 13. Böhlau Verlag. * Sims-Williams, Nicholas (1997). "New Findings in Ancient Afghanistan
– the Bactrian documents discovered from the Northern Hindu-Kush". Archived from the original on 2007-06-10. * Swiggers, Pierre (1996). "Transmission of the Phoenician Script to the West". In Daniels; Bright. _The World's Writing Systems_. Oxford: University Press. pp. 261–270. * Stevenson, Jane (2007). "Translation and the spread of the Greek and Latin alphabets in Late Antiquity". In Harald Kittel; et al. _Translation: an international encyclopedia of translation studies_. 2. Berlin: de Gruyter. pp. 1157–1159. * Thompson, Edward M (1912). _An introduction to Greek and Latin palaeography_. Oxford: Clarendon. * Woodard, Roger D. (2008). "Attic Greek". In Woodard, Roger D. _The ancient languages of Europe_. Cambridge: University Press. pp. 14–49.


_ Look up APPENDIX:GREEK SCRIPT _ in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

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