Greek alphabet

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The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the Greek language
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 since at least 730 BC (the 8th century BC). The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha
Alpha
Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. Alpha or ALPHA may also refer to:-Science:*Alpha , the highest ranking individuals in a community of social animals...

 to omega
Omega
Omega is the 24th and last letter of the Greek alphabet. In the Greek numeric system, it has a value of 800. The word literally means "great O" , as opposed to omicron, which means "little O"...

. The Greek alphabet was derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet
Phoenician alphabet
The Phoenician alphabet, called by convention the Proto-Canaanite alphabet for inscriptions older than around 1050 BC, was a non-pictographic consonantal alphabet, or abjad. It was used for the writing of Phoenician, a Northern Semitic language, used by the civilization of Phoenicia...

, from which it differs by being the first alphabet that provides a full representation of one written symbol per sound both for vowel
Vowel
In phonetics, a vowel is a sound in spoken language, such as English ah! or oh! , pronounced with an open vocal tract so that there is no build-up of air pressure at any point above the glottis. This contrasts with consonants, such as English sh! , where there is a constriction or closure at some...

s as well as consonant
Consonant
In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronounced with the back of the tongue; , pronounced in the throat; and ,...

s. The Greek alphabet in turn is the ancestor of numerous other European and Middle Eastern scripts that follow the same structural principle, among them Cyrillic and Latin.

The Greek alphabet reached its classical form around 400 BC, with some details, including the use of diacritic
Diacritic
A diacritic is a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. The term derives from the Greek διακριτικός . Diacritic is both an adjective and a noun, whereas diacritical is only an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute and grave are often called accents...

 marks becoming fixed only during the following centuries of the Hellenistic
Hellenistic period
The Hellenistic period or Hellenistic era describes the time which followed the conquests of Alexander the Great. It was so named by the historian J. G. Droysen. During this time, Greek cultural influence and power was at its zenith in Europe and Asia...

 and Roman period. The sequence of letters has remained unchanged since then up to the present day, although the sound values of individual letters have changed considerably due to phonological changes between ancient
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 and modern Greek
Modern Greek
Modern Greek refers to the varieties of the Greek language spoken in the modern era. The beginning of the "modern" period of the language is often symbolically assigned to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, even though that date marks no clear linguistic boundary and many characteristic...

. While it was originally written with only a single, majuscule form for each letter, the Greek alphabet developed a second set of letter forms, the minuscule
Minuscule
Minuscule may refer to:* Lower case letter* Minuscule script, a group of writing styles in ancient and medieval Greek or Latin manuscripts:** Minuscule cursive or new Roman cursive, used in Latin manuscripts...

 letters, during the middle ages, resulting in the modern system of uppercase and lowercase
Letter case
In orthography and typography, letter case is the distinction between the larger majuscule and smaller minuscule letters...

 forms.

In addition to being used for writing Greek, both ancient and modern, the letters of the Greek alphabet are today used as technical symbols and labels in many domains of mathematics, science and other fields.

History


The Greek alphabet emerged in the late 9th century BC or early 8th century BC Another, unrelated writing system, Linear B
Linear B
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, an early form of Greek. It pre-dated the Greek alphabet by several centuries and seems to have died out with the fall of Mycenaean civilization...

, had been in use to write the Greek language during the earlier Mycenean period, but the two systems are separated from each other by a hiatus of several centuries, the so-called Greek Dark Ages
Greek Dark Ages
The Greek Dark Age or Ages also known as Geometric or Homeric Age are terms which have regularly been used to refer to the period of Greek history from the presumed Dorian invasion and end of the Mycenaean Palatial civilization around 1200 BC, to the first signs of the Greek city-states in the 9th...

. The Greeks adopted the alphabet from the earlier Phoenician alphabet
Phoenician alphabet
The Phoenician alphabet, called by convention the Proto-Canaanite alphabet for inscriptions older than around 1050 BC, was a non-pictographic consonantal alphabet, or abjad. It was used for the writing of Phoenician, a Northern Semitic language, used by the civilization of Phoenicia...

, a member of the family of closely related West Semitic scripts
Abjad
An abjad is a type of writing system in which each symbol always or usually stands for a consonant; the reader must supply the appropriate vowel....

. The most notable change made in adapting the Phoenician system to Greek was the introduction of vowel letters. According to a definition used by some modern authors, this feature makes Greek the first "alphabet" in the narrow sense, as distinguished from the purely consonantal alphabets of the Semitic type, which according to this terminology are called "abjads".

Greek initially took over all of the 22 letters of Phoenician. Five of them were reassigned to denote vowel sounds: the glide consonants /j/ (yodh
Yodh
Yodh is the tenth letter of many Semitic alphabets, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew Yud , Syriac and Arabic...

) and /w/ (waw
Waw (letter)
Waw is the sixth letter of the Northwest Semitic family of scripts, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic ....

) were used for [i] (Ι, iota
Iota
Iota is the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 10. It was derived from the Phoenician letter Yodh . Letters that arose from this letter include the Roman I and J and the Cyrillic І , Yi , Je , and iotified letters .Iota represents...

) and [u] (Υ, upsilon
Upsilon
Upsilon is the 20th letter of the Greek alphabet.  In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 400. It is derived from the Phoenician waw. The name of the letter is pronounced in Modern Greek, and in English , , or...

) respectively; the glottal stop
Glottal stop
The glottal stop, or more fully, the voiceless glottal plosive, is a type of consonantal sound used in many spoken languages. In English, the feature is represented, for example, by the hyphen in uh-oh! and by the apostrophe or [[ʻokina]] in Hawaii among those using a preservative pronunciation of...

 consonant /ʔ/ ('aleph
Aleph
* Aleph or Alef is the first letter of the Semitic abjads descended from Proto-Canaanite, Arabic alphabet, Phoenician alphabet, Hebrew alphabet, Syriac alphabet-People:*Aleph , an Italo disco artist and alias of Dave Rodgers...

) was used for [a] (Α, alpha
Alpha
Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. Alpha or ALPHA may also refer to:-Science:*Alpha , the highest ranking individuals in a community of social animals...

); the pharyngeal
Pharyngeal consonant
A pharyngeal consonant is a type of consonant which is articulated with the root of the tongue against the pharynx.-Pharyngeal consonants in the IPA:Pharyngeal consonants in the International Phonetic Alphabet :...

 /ʕ/ (

{{pp-semi-indef}}{{pp-move-indef}}

{{SpecialChars}}
{{Table Greekletters|letter=}}
The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the
Greek language
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 since at least 730 BC (the 8th century BC).{{sfn|Cook|1987|p=9}} The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha
Alpha
Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. Alpha or ALPHA may also refer to:-Science:*Alpha , the highest ranking individuals in a community of social animals...

 to omega
Omega
Omega is the 24th and last letter of the Greek alphabet. In the Greek numeric system, it has a value of 800. The word literally means "great O" , as opposed to omicron, which means "little O"...

. The Greek alphabet was derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet
Phoenician alphabet
The Phoenician alphabet, called by convention the Proto-Canaanite alphabet for inscriptions older than around 1050 BC, was a non-pictographic consonantal alphabet, or abjad. It was used for the writing of Phoenician, a Northern Semitic language, used by the civilization of Phoenicia...

, from which it differs by being the first alphabet that provides a full representation of one written symbol per sound both for vowel
Vowel
In phonetics, a vowel is a sound in spoken language, such as English ah! or oh! , pronounced with an open vocal tract so that there is no build-up of air pressure at any point above the glottis. This contrasts with consonants, such as English sh! , where there is a constriction or closure at some...

s as well as consonant
Consonant
In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronounced with the back of the tongue; , pronounced in the throat; and ,...

s. The Greek alphabet in turn is the ancestor of numerous other European and Middle Eastern scripts that follow the same structural principle, among them Cyrillic and Latin.{{sfn|Coulmas|1996|p=}}

The Greek alphabet reached its classical form around 400 BC, with some details, including the use of diacritic
Diacritic
A diacritic is a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. The term derives from the Greek διακριτικός . Diacritic is both an adjective and a noun, whereas diacritical is only an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute and grave are often called accents...

 marks becoming fixed only during the following centuries of the Hellenistic
Hellenistic period
The Hellenistic period or Hellenistic era describes the time which followed the conquests of Alexander the Great. It was so named by the historian J. G. Droysen. During this time, Greek cultural influence and power was at its zenith in Europe and Asia...

 and Roman period. The sequence of letters has remained unchanged since then up to the present day, although the sound values of individual letters have changed considerably due to phonological changes between ancient
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 and modern Greek
Modern Greek
Modern Greek refers to the varieties of the Greek language spoken in the modern era. The beginning of the "modern" period of the language is often symbolically assigned to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, even though that date marks no clear linguistic boundary and many characteristic...

. While it was originally written with only a single, majuscule form for each letter, the Greek alphabet developed a second set of letter forms, the minuscule
Minuscule
Minuscule may refer to:* Lower case letter* Minuscule script, a group of writing styles in ancient and medieval Greek or Latin manuscripts:** Minuscule cursive or new Roman cursive, used in Latin manuscripts...

 letters, during the middle ages, resulting in the modern system of uppercase and lowercase
Letter case
In orthography and typography, letter case is the distinction between the larger majuscule and smaller minuscule letters...

 forms.

In addition to being used for writing Greek, both ancient and modern, the letters of the Greek alphabet are today used as technical symbols and labels in many domains of mathematics, science and other fields.

History


{{Main|History of the Greek alphabet|Archaic Greek alphabets}}
The Greek alphabet emerged in the late 9th century BC or early 8th century BC{{sfn|Johnston|2003|p=}} Another, unrelated writing system, Linear B
Linear B
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, an early form of Greek. It pre-dated the Greek alphabet by several centuries and seems to have died out with the fall of Mycenaean civilization...

, had been in use to write the Greek language during the earlier Mycenean period, but the two systems are separated from each other by a hiatus of several centuries, the so-called Greek Dark Ages
Greek Dark Ages
The Greek Dark Age or Ages also known as Geometric or Homeric Age are terms which have regularly been used to refer to the period of Greek history from the presumed Dorian invasion and end of the Mycenaean Palatial civilization around 1200 BC, to the first signs of the Greek city-states in the 9th...

. The Greeks adopted the alphabet from the earlier Phoenician alphabet
Phoenician alphabet
The Phoenician alphabet, called by convention the Proto-Canaanite alphabet for inscriptions older than around 1050 BC, was a non-pictographic consonantal alphabet, or abjad. It was used for the writing of Phoenician, a Northern Semitic language, used by the civilization of Phoenicia...

, a member of the family of closely related West Semitic scripts
Abjad
An abjad is a type of writing system in which each symbol always or usually stands for a consonant; the reader must supply the appropriate vowel....

. The most notable change made in adapting the Phoenician system to Greek was the introduction of vowel letters. According to a definition used by some modern authors, this feature makes Greek the first "alphabet" in the narrow sense,{{sfn|Coulmas|1996|p=}} as distinguished from the purely consonantal alphabets of the Semitic type, which according to this terminology are called "abjads".{{sfn|Daniels|Bright|1996|p=4}}

Greek initially took over all of the 22 letters of Phoenician. Five of them were reassigned to denote vowel sounds: the glide consonants /j/ (yodh
Yodh
Yodh is the tenth letter of many Semitic alphabets, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew Yud , Syriac and Arabic...

) and /w/ (waw
Waw (letter)
Waw is the sixth letter of the Northwest Semitic family of scripts, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic ....

) were used for [i] (Ι, iota
Iota
Iota is the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 10. It was derived from the Phoenician letter Yodh . Letters that arose from this letter include the Roman I and J and the Cyrillic І , Yi , Je , and iotified letters .Iota represents...

) and [u] (Υ, upsilon
Upsilon
Upsilon is the 20th letter of the Greek alphabet.  In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 400. It is derived from the Phoenician waw. The name of the letter is pronounced in Modern Greek, and in English , , or...

) respectively; the glottal stop
Glottal stop
The glottal stop, or more fully, the voiceless glottal plosive, is a type of consonantal sound used in many spoken languages. In English, the feature is represented, for example, by the hyphen in uh-oh! and by the apostrophe or [[ʻokina]] in Hawaii among those using a preservative pronunciation of...

 consonant /ʔ/ ('aleph
Aleph
* Aleph or Alef is the first letter of the Semitic abjads descended from Proto-Canaanite, Arabic alphabet, Phoenician alphabet, Hebrew alphabet, Syriac alphabet-People:*Aleph , an Italo disco artist and alias of Dave Rodgers...

) was used for [a] (Α, alpha
Alpha
Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. Alpha or ALPHA may also refer to:-Science:*Alpha , the highest ranking individuals in a community of social animals...

); the pharyngeal
Pharyngeal consonant
A pharyngeal consonant is a type of consonant which is articulated with the root of the tongue against the pharynx.-Pharyngeal consonants in the IPA:Pharyngeal consonants in the International Phonetic Alphabet :...

 /ʕ/ (

{{pp-semi-indef}}{{pp-move-indef}}

{{SpecialChars}}
{{Table Greekletters|letter=}}
The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the
Greek language
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 since at least 730 BC (the 8th century BC).{{sfn|Cook|1987|p=9}} The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha
Alpha
Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. Alpha or ALPHA may also refer to:-Science:*Alpha , the highest ranking individuals in a community of social animals...

 to omega
Omega
Omega is the 24th and last letter of the Greek alphabet. In the Greek numeric system, it has a value of 800. The word literally means "great O" , as opposed to omicron, which means "little O"...

. The Greek alphabet was derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet
Phoenician alphabet
The Phoenician alphabet, called by convention the Proto-Canaanite alphabet for inscriptions older than around 1050 BC, was a non-pictographic consonantal alphabet, or abjad. It was used for the writing of Phoenician, a Northern Semitic language, used by the civilization of Phoenicia...

, from which it differs by being the first alphabet that provides a full representation of one written symbol per sound both for vowel
Vowel
In phonetics, a vowel is a sound in spoken language, such as English ah! or oh! , pronounced with an open vocal tract so that there is no build-up of air pressure at any point above the glottis. This contrasts with consonants, such as English sh! , where there is a constriction or closure at some...

s as well as consonant
Consonant
In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronounced with the back of the tongue; , pronounced in the throat; and ,...

s. The Greek alphabet in turn is the ancestor of numerous other European and Middle Eastern scripts that follow the same structural principle, among them Cyrillic and Latin.{{sfn|Coulmas|1996|p=}}

The Greek alphabet reached its classical form around 400 BC, with some details, including the use of diacritic
Diacritic
A diacritic is a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. The term derives from the Greek διακριτικός . Diacritic is both an adjective and a noun, whereas diacritical is only an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute and grave are often called accents...

 marks becoming fixed only during the following centuries of the Hellenistic
Hellenistic period
The Hellenistic period or Hellenistic era describes the time which followed the conquests of Alexander the Great. It was so named by the historian J. G. Droysen. During this time, Greek cultural influence and power was at its zenith in Europe and Asia...

 and Roman period. The sequence of letters has remained unchanged since then up to the present day, although the sound values of individual letters have changed considerably due to phonological changes between ancient
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 and modern Greek
Modern Greek
Modern Greek refers to the varieties of the Greek language spoken in the modern era. The beginning of the "modern" period of the language is often symbolically assigned to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, even though that date marks no clear linguistic boundary and many characteristic...

. While it was originally written with only a single, majuscule form for each letter, the Greek alphabet developed a second set of letter forms, the minuscule
Minuscule
Minuscule may refer to:* Lower case letter* Minuscule script, a group of writing styles in ancient and medieval Greek or Latin manuscripts:** Minuscule cursive or new Roman cursive, used in Latin manuscripts...

 letters, during the middle ages, resulting in the modern system of uppercase and lowercase
Letter case
In orthography and typography, letter case is the distinction between the larger majuscule and smaller minuscule letters...

 forms.

In addition to being used for writing Greek, both ancient and modern, the letters of the Greek alphabet are today used as technical symbols and labels in many domains of mathematics, science and other fields.

History


{{Main|History of the Greek alphabet|Archaic Greek alphabets}}
The Greek alphabet emerged in the late 9th century BC or early 8th century BC{{sfn|Johnston|2003|p=}} Another, unrelated writing system, Linear B
Linear B
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, an early form of Greek. It pre-dated the Greek alphabet by several centuries and seems to have died out with the fall of Mycenaean civilization...

, had been in use to write the Greek language during the earlier Mycenean period, but the two systems are separated from each other by a hiatus of several centuries, the so-called Greek Dark Ages
Greek Dark Ages
The Greek Dark Age or Ages also known as Geometric or Homeric Age are terms which have regularly been used to refer to the period of Greek history from the presumed Dorian invasion and end of the Mycenaean Palatial civilization around 1200 BC, to the first signs of the Greek city-states in the 9th...

. The Greeks adopted the alphabet from the earlier Phoenician alphabet
Phoenician alphabet
The Phoenician alphabet, called by convention the Proto-Canaanite alphabet for inscriptions older than around 1050 BC, was a non-pictographic consonantal alphabet, or abjad. It was used for the writing of Phoenician, a Northern Semitic language, used by the civilization of Phoenicia...

, a member of the family of closely related West Semitic scripts
Abjad
An abjad is a type of writing system in which each symbol always or usually stands for a consonant; the reader must supply the appropriate vowel....

. The most notable change made in adapting the Phoenician system to Greek was the introduction of vowel letters. According to a definition used by some modern authors, this feature makes Greek the first "alphabet" in the narrow sense,{{sfn|Coulmas|1996|p=}} as distinguished from the purely consonantal alphabets of the Semitic type, which according to this terminology are called "abjads".{{sfn|Daniels|Bright|1996|p=4}}

Greek initially took over all of the 22 letters of Phoenician. Five of them were reassigned to denote vowel sounds: the glide consonants /j/ (yodh
Yodh
Yodh is the tenth letter of many Semitic alphabets, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew Yud , Syriac and Arabic...

) and /w/ (waw
Waw (letter)
Waw is the sixth letter of the Northwest Semitic family of scripts, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic ....

) were used for [i] (Ι, iota
Iota
Iota is the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 10. It was derived from the Phoenician letter Yodh . Letters that arose from this letter include the Roman I and J and the Cyrillic І , Yi , Je , and iotified letters .Iota represents...

) and [u] (Υ, upsilon
Upsilon
Upsilon is the 20th letter of the Greek alphabet.  In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 400. It is derived from the Phoenician waw. The name of the letter is pronounced in Modern Greek, and in English , , or...

) respectively; the glottal stop
Glottal stop
The glottal stop, or more fully, the voiceless glottal plosive, is a type of consonantal sound used in many spoken languages. In English, the feature is represented, for example, by the hyphen in uh-oh! and by the apostrophe or [[ʻokina]] in Hawaii among those using a preservative pronunciation of...

 consonant /ʔ/ ('aleph
Aleph
* Aleph or Alef is the first letter of the Semitic abjads descended from Proto-Canaanite, Arabic alphabet, Phoenician alphabet, Hebrew alphabet, Syriac alphabet-People:*Aleph , an Italo disco artist and alias of Dave Rodgers...

) was used for [a] (Α, alpha
Alpha
Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. Alpha or ALPHA may also refer to:-Science:*Alpha , the highest ranking individuals in a community of social animals...

); the pharyngeal
Pharyngeal consonant
A pharyngeal consonant is a type of consonant which is articulated with the root of the tongue against the pharynx.-Pharyngeal consonants in the IPA:Pharyngeal consonants in the International Phonetic Alphabet :...

 /ʕ/ ({{unicode
Ayin
' or ' is the sixteenth letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic . It is the twenty-first letter in the new Persian alphabet...

) was turned into [o] (Ο, omicron
Omicron
Omicron is the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 70. It is rarely used in mathematics because it is indistinguishable from the Latin letter O and easily confused with the digit 0...

); and the letter for /h/ (he
He (letter)
He is the fifth letter of many Semitic alphabets, including Phoenician , Aramaic, Hebrew , Syriac and Arabic . Its sound value is a voiceless glottal fricative ....

) was turned into [e] (Ε, epsilon
Epsilon
Epsilon is the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet, corresponding phonetically to a close-mid front unrounded vowel . In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 5. It was derived from the Phoenician letter He...

). A doublet of waw was also borrowed as a consonant for [w] (Ϝ, digamma
Digamma
Digamma is an archaic letter of the Greek alphabet which originally stood for the sound /w/ and later remained in use only as a numeral symbol for the number "6"...

). In addition, the Phoenician letter for the emphatic glottal /ħ/ (heth
Heth
-People:* Children of Heth, a Canaanite nation in the Hebrew Bible, purportedly named after Heth, son of Canaan, son of Ham, son of Noah* figures in the Book of Mormon:** Heth , an early Jaredite** Heth a later Jaredite...

) 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
ETA
ETA , an acronym for Euskadi Ta Askatasuna is an armed Basque nationalist and separatist organization. The group was founded in 1959 and has since evolved from a group promoting traditional Basque culture to a paramilitary group with the goal of gaining independence for the Greater Basque Country...

) by those dialects that lacked the consonant. Eventually, a seventh vowel letter for the long /ɔː/ (Ω, omega
Omega
Omega is the 24th and last letter of the Greek alphabet. In the Greek numeric system, it has a value of 800. The word literally means "great O" , as opposed to omicron, which means "little O"...

) was introduced.

Greek also introduced three new consonant letters for its aspirated plosive sounds and consonant clusters: Φ (phi
Phi (letter)
Phi , pronounced or sometimes in English, and in modern Greek, is the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet. In modern Greek, it represents , a voiceless labiodental fricative. In Ancient Greek it represented , an aspirated voiceless bilabial plosive...

) for /pʰ/, Χ (chi
Chi (letter)
Chi is the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet, pronounced as in English.-Greek:-Ancient Greek:Its value in Ancient Greek was an aspirated velar stop .-Koine Greek:...

) for /kʰ/ and Ψ (psi
Psi (letter)
Psi is the 23rd letter of the Greek alphabet and has a numeric value of 700. In both Classical and Modern Greek, the letter indicates the combination /ps/ . The letter was adopted into the Old Italic alphabet, and its shape is continued into the Algiz rune of the Elder Futhark...

) 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.

Conversely, three of the original Phoenician letters dropped out of use before the alphabet took its classical shape: the letter {{Unicode|Ϻ}} (san
San (letter)
San was an archaic letter of the Greek alphabet. Its shape was similar to modern M, or to a modern Greek Sigma turned sideways, and it was used as an alternative to Sigma to denote the sound . Unlike Sigma, whose position in the alphabet is between Rho and Tau, San appeared between Pi and Qoppa...

), which had been in competition with Σ (sigma
Sigma
Sigma is the eighteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, and carries the 'S' sound. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 200. When used at the end of a word, and the word is not all upper case, the final form is used, e.g...

) denoting the same phoneme /s/; the letter {{Unicode|Ϙ}} (qoppa
Qoppa
Koppa or Qoppa is a letter that was used in early forms of the Greek alphabet, derived from Phoenician qoph. It was originally used to denote the /k/ sound, but dropped out of use as an alphabetic character in favour of Kappa . It has remained in use as a numeral symbol in the system of Greek...

), which was redundant with Κ (kappa
Kappa
Kappa is the 10th letter of the Greek alphabet, used to represent the voiceless velar stop, or "k", sound in Ancient and Modern Greek. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 20. It was derived from the Phoenician letter Kaph...

) for /k/, and Ϝ (digamma
Digamma
Digamma is an archaic letter of the Greek alphabet which originally stood for the sound /w/ and later remained in use only as a numeral symbol for the number "6"...

), 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
Boustrophedon
Boustrophedon , is a type of bi-directional text, mostly seen in ancient manuscripts and other inscriptions. Every other line of writing is flipped or reversed, with reversed letters. Rather than going left-to-right as in modern English, or right-to-left as in Arabic and Hebrew, alternate lines in...

, 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.

There were initially numerous local variants
Archaic Greek alphabets
Many local variants of the Greek alphabet were employed in ancient Greece during the archaic and early classical periods, until they were replaced by the classical 24-letter alphabet that is the standard today, around 400 BC...

 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
Euboea
Euboea is the second largest Greek island in area and population, after Crete. The narrow Euripus Strait separates it from Boeotia in mainland Greece. In general outline it is a long and narrow, seahorse-shaped island; it is about long, and varies in breadth from to...

, which among other things had Χ for /ks/, was transplanted to Italy by early Greek colonists, and became the ancestor of the Old Italic alphabet
Old Italic alphabet
Old Italic refers to several now extinct alphabet systems used on the Italian Peninsula in ancient times for various Indo-European languages and non-Indo-European languages...

s and ultimately, through Etruscan
Etruscan language
The Etruscan language was spoken and written by the Etruscan civilization, in what is present-day Italy, in the ancient region of Etruria and in parts of Lombardy, Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna...

, of the Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

. Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 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
Ionia
Ionia is an ancient region of central coastal Anatolia in present-day Turkey, the region nearest İzmir, which was historically Smyrna. It consisted of the northernmost territories of the Ionian League of Greek settlements...

; this was adopted by Athens in 403 BC under archon Eucleides
Eucleides
Eucleides was archon of Athens at the end of the fifth century BC.During the year that he spent in office , the murderous oligarchy of the Thirty Tyrants was driven out of Athens and the Athenian democracy re-established...

 and in most other parts of the Greek-speaking world during the 4th century BC.

In the Hellenistic period
Hellenistic civilization
Hellenistic civilization represents the zenith of Greek influence in the ancient world from 323 BCE to about 146 BCE...

, Aristophanes of Byzantium
Aristophanes of Byzantium
Aristophanes of Byzantium was a Greek scholar, critic and grammarian, particularly renowned for his work in Homeric scholarship, but also for work on other classical authors such as Pindar and Hesiod. Born in Byzantium about 257 BC, he soon moved to Alexandria and studied under Zenodotus,...

 introduced diacritic
Diacritic
A diacritic is a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. The term derives from the Greek διακριτικός . Diacritic is both an adjective and a noun, whereas diacritical is only an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute and grave are often called accents...

s to Greek letters, to specify features of pronunciation that were being lost from the popular spoken language at around that time: the pair of rough and smooth breathing, to denote the absence or presence of an initial /h/, and the set of three accent marks (acute
Acute accent
The acute accent is a diacritic used in many modern written languages with alphabets based on the Latin, Cyrillic, and Greek scripts.-Apex:An early precursor of the acute accent was the apex, used in Latin inscriptions to mark long vowels.-Greek:...

, grave
Grave accent
The grave accent is a diacritical mark used in written Breton, Catalan, Corsican, Dutch, French, Greek , Italian, Mohawk, Norwegian, Occitan, Portuguese, Scottish Gaelic, Vietnamese, Welsh, Romansh, and other languages.-Greek:The grave accent was first used in the polytonic orthography of Ancient...

 and circumflex) to denote distinctions of classical Greek pitch accent
Pitch accent
Pitch accent is a linguistic term of convenience for a variety of restricted tone systems that use variations in pitch to give prominence to a syllable or mora within a word. The placement of this tone or the way it is realized can give different meanings to otherwise similar words...

. During the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, the Greek scripts underwent changes paralleling those of the Latin alphabet: while the old forms were retained as a monumental script, uncial and eventually minuscule hands came to dominate.

Letter names


{{Listen|filename= Ell-AlphabitosUpload.ogg|title=Greek Alphabet.|description=(Names of the letters pronounced in Modern Greek)|format=Ogg
Ogg
Ogg is a free, open container format maintained by the Xiph.Org Foundation. The creators of the Ogg format state that it is unrestricted by software patents and is designed to provide for efficient streaming and manipulation of high quality digital multimedia.The Ogg container format can multiplex...

}}
Each of the Phoenician letter names was a word that began with the sound represented by that letter; thus ʾaleph
Aleph
* Aleph or Alef is the first letter of the Semitic abjads descended from Proto-Canaanite, Arabic alphabet, Phoenician alphabet, Hebrew alphabet, Syriac alphabet-People:*Aleph , an Italo disco artist and alias of Dave Rodgers...

, the word for "ox", was adopted for the glottal stop /ʔ/, bet
Bet (letter)
Bet, Beth, Beh, or Vet is the second letter of many Semitic abjads, including Arabic alphabet , Aramaic, Hebrew , Phoenician and Syriac...

, 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. These borrowed names had no meaning in Greek except as labels for the letters. However, a few signs that were added or modified later by the Greeks do in fact have names with meanings. For example, o mikron and o mega mean "small o" and "big o". Similarly, e psilon and u psilon mean "plain e" and "plain u", respectively.

Number notation


{{main|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 of the obsolete letters were revived: wau/digamma (Ϝ) for 6, koppa (Ϙ) for 90, and a rare Ionian letter for /ss/, today called sampi
Sampi
Sampi is an archaic letter of the Greek alphabet. It was used in addition to the classical 24 letters of the alphabet to denote some type of a sibilant sound, probably or , in some eastern Ionic dialects of ancient Greek in the 6th and 5th centuries BC...

 (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, similar to the way Roman numerals are used in English. The three extra symbols are today written as ϛ, ϟ and ϡ respectively.

List of letters


Below is a table listing the Greek letters, as well as their forms when romanized
Romanization
In linguistics, romanization or latinization is the representation of a written word or spoken speech with the Roman script, or a system for doing so, where the original word or language uses a different writing system . Methods of romanization include transliteration, for representing written...

. The table also provides the equivalent Phoenician letter
Phoenician alphabet
The Phoenician alphabet, called by convention the Proto-Canaanite alphabet for inscriptions older than around 1050 BC, was a non-pictographic consonantal alphabet, or abjad. It was used for the writing of Phoenician, a Northern Semitic language, used by the civilization of Phoenicia...

 from which each Greek letter is derived. Pronunciations transcribed using the International Phonetic Alphabet
International Phonetic Alphabet
The International Phonetic Alphabet "The acronym 'IPA' strictly refers [...] to the 'International Phonetic Association'. But it is now such a common practice to use the acronym also to refer to the alphabet itself that resistance seems pedantic...

.

The classical pronunciation given below is the reconstructed pronunciation of Attic in the late 5th and early 4th century BC. Some of the letters had different pronunciations in pre-classical times or in non-Attic dialects. For details, see History of the Greek alphabet
History of the Greek alphabet
The history of the Greek alphabet starts with the adoption of Phoenician letter forms and continues to the present day. This article concentrates on the early period, before the codification of the now-standard Greek alphabet....

 and Ancient Greek phonology
Ancient Greek phonology
Ancient Greek phonology is the study of the phonology, or pronunciation, of Ancient Greek. Because of the passage of time, the original pronunciation of Ancient Greek, like that of all ancient languages, can never be known with absolute certainty...

. For details on post-classical Ancient Greek pronunciation, see Koine Greek phonology
Koine Greek phonology
Koine Greek is phonologically a transition period: at the start of the period, the language was generally virtually identical to Classical Ancient Greek, whereas in the end the language had phonologically a lot more in common with Modern Greek than Ancient Greek....

.
Letter Corresponding
Phoenician
Phoenician alphabet
The Phoenician alphabet, called by convention the Proto-Canaanite alphabet for inscriptions older than around 1050 BC, was a non-pictographic consonantal alphabet, or abjad. It was used for the writing of Phoenician, a Northern Semitic language, used by the civilization of Phoenicia...


letter
Name Transliteration
Transliteration of Greek to the Latin alphabet
Romanization of Greek is the representation of Greek language texts, that are usually written in the Greek alphabet, with the Latin alphabet, or a system for doing so...

1
Pronunciation
International Phonetic Alphabet
The International Phonetic Alphabet "The acronym 'IPA' strictly refers [...] to the 'International Phonetic Association'. But it is now such a common practice to use the acronym also to refer to the alphabet itself that resistance seems pedantic...

Numeric
value
Greek numerals
Greek numerals are a system of representing numbers using letters of the Greek alphabet. They are also known by the names Ionian numerals, Milesian numerals , Alexandrian numerals, or alphabetic numerals...

English Ancient
Greek
Medieval
Greek
(polytonic)
{{audio-nohelp|Ell-AlphabitosUpload.ogg|Modern
Greek}}
Ancient
Greek
Modern
Greek
Classical
Ancient
Greek
Modern
Greek
Α α
Aleph
Aleph (letter)
' is the reconstructed name of the first letter of the Proto-Canaanite alphabet, continued in descended Semitic alphabets as Phoenician ' , Syriac ' , Hebrew Aleph , and Arabic ' ....

Alpha
Alpha (letter)
Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 1. It was derived from the Phoenician letter Aleph...

{{polytonic|ἄλφα}} άλφα a [a] [aː] [a] 1
Β β
Beth
Beta
Beta (letter)
Beta is the second letter of the Greek alphabet. In Ancient Greek, beta represented the voiced bilabial plosive . In Modern Greek, it represents the voiced labiodental fricative ....

{{polytonic|βῆτα}} βήτα b v [b] [v] 2
Γ γ
Gimel
Gimel (letter)
Gimel is the third letter of many Semitic alphabets, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew , Syriac and Arabic...

Gamma {{polytonic|γάμμα}} γάμ(μ)α g gh, g, y [ɡ] [ɣ], [ʝ] 3
Δ δ
Daleth
Delta
Delta (letter)
Delta is the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 4. It was derived from the Phoenician letter Dalet...

{{polytonic|δέλτα}} δέλτα d d, dh [d] [ð] 4
Ε ε
He
He (letter)
He is the fifth letter of many Semitic alphabets, including Phoenician , Aramaic, Hebrew , Syriac and Arabic . Its sound value is a voiceless glottal fricative ....

Epsilon
Epsilon
Epsilon is the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet, corresponding phonetically to a close-mid front unrounded vowel . In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 5. It was derived from the Phoenician letter He...

{{polytonic|εἶ}} {{polytonic|ἒ ψιλόν}} έψιλον e [e] 5
Ζ ζ
Zayin
Zayin
Zayin is the seventh letter of many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician , Aramaic , Hebrew , Syriac and Perso-Arabic alphabet...

Zeta
Zeta (letter)
Zeta is the sixth letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals, it has a value of 7. It was derived from the Phoenician letter Zayin...

{{polytonic|ζῆτα}} ζήτα z eta (letter)#Pronunciation(?) [z] 7
Η η
Heth
Heth (letter)
' or ' is the reconstructed name of the eighth letter of the Proto-Canaanite alphabet, continued in descended Semitic alphabets as Phoenician , Syriac , Hebrew ḥēth , Arabic , and Berber .Heth originally represented a voiceless fricative, either pharyngeal , or...

Eta
Eta (letter)
Eta ) is the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet. Originally denoting a consonant /h/, its sound value in the classical Attic dialect of Ancient Greek was a long vowel , raised to in medieval Greek, a process known as itacism.In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 8...

{{polytonic|ἦτα}} ήτα e, ē i [ɛː] [i] 8
Θ θ
Teth
Teth
' is the ninth letter of many Semitic abjads , including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew Tet , Syriac and Arabic ; it is 9th in abjadi order and 16th in modern Arabic order....

Theta {{polytonic|θῆτα}} θήτα th [tʰ] [θ] 9
Ι ι
Yodh
Yodh
Yodh is the tenth letter of many Semitic alphabets, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew Yud , Syriac and Arabic...

Iota {{polytonic|ἰῶτα}} (γ)ιώτα i [i] [iː] [i], [ʝ] 10
Κ κ
Kaph
Kaph
Kaph is the eleventh letter of many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew Kaf , Arabic alphabet , Persian alphabet...

Kappa {{polytonic|κάππα}} κάπ(π)α k [k] [k], [c] 20
Λ λ
Lamedh
Lamedh
Lamed or Lamedh is the twelfth letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew Lamed and Arabic alphabet . Its sound value is .The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Lambda , Latin L, and Cyrillic Л.-Origins:...

Lambda {{polytonic|λάβδα}} {{polytonic|λάμβδα}} λάμ(β)δα l [l] 30
Μ μ
Mem
Mem
Mem is the thirteenth letter of many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic...

Mu
Mu (letter)
Carlos Alberto Vives Restrepo is a Grammy Award and three-time Latin Grammy Award winning-Colombian singer, composer and actor.-Biography:...

{{polytonic|μῦ}} μι/μυ m [m] 40
Ν ν
Nun
Nun (letter)
Nun is the fourteenth letter of many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic alphabet . It is the third letter in Thaana , pronounced as "noonu"...

Nu
Nu (letter)
Nu , is the 13th letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 50...

{{polytonic|νῦ}} νι/νυ n [n] 50
Ξ ξ
Samekh
Samekh
Samekh or Simketh is the fifteenth letter in many Semitic alphabets, including Phoenician, Hebrew, and Aramaic, representing . The Arabic alphabet, however, uses a letter based on Phoenician šin to represent ; however, that glyph takes Samekh's place in the traditional Abjadi order of the Arabic...

Xi {{polytonic|ξεῖ}} {{polytonic|ξῖ}} ξι x x, ks [ks] 60
Ο ο
'Ayin
Ayin
' or ' is the sixteenth letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic . It is the twenty-first letter in the new Persian alphabet...

Omicron
Omicron
Omicron is the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 70. It is rarely used in mathematics because it is indistinguishable from the Latin letter O and easily confused with the digit 0...

{{polytonic|οὖ}} {{polytonic|ὂ μικρόν}} όμικρον o [o] 70
Π π
Pe
Pe (letter)
Pe is the seventeenth letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew Pei and Persian, Arabic ....

Pi
Pi (letter)
Pi is the sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, representing . In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 80. Letters that arose from pi include Cyrillic Pe , Coptic pi , and Gothic pairthra .The upper-case letter Π is used as a symbol for:...

{{polytonic|πεῖ}} {{polytonic|πῖ}} πι p [p] 80
Ρ ρ
Resh
Resh
Resh is the twentieth letter of many Semitic alphabets, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic alphabet . Its sound value is one of a number of rhotic consonants: usually or , but also or in Hebrew....

Rho
Rho (letter)
Rho is the 17th letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals, it has a value of 100. It is derived from Semitic resh "head"...

{{polytonic|ῥῶ}} ρω r, rh r [r], [r̥] [r] 100
Σ σ ς
Sin
Shin (letter)
Shin literally means "Sharp" ; It is the twenty-first letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician , Aramaic/Hebrew , and Arabic ....

Sigma {{polytonic|σῖγμα}} σίγμα s [s] 200
Τ τ
Taw
Taw (letter)
Taw, Tav or Taf is the twenty-second and last letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew Taw and Arabic alphabet .Its original sound value is ....

Tau {{polytonic|ταῦ}} ταυ t [t] 300
Υ υ
Waw
Waw (letter)
Waw is the sixth letter of the Northwest Semitic family of scripts, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic ....

Upsilon {{polytonic|ὖ}} {{polytonic|ὖ ψιλόν}} ύψιλον u, y y, v, f [ʉ(ː)], [y(ː)] [i] 400
Φ φ origin debated Phi
Phi (letter)
Phi , pronounced or sometimes in English, and in modern Greek, is the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet. In modern Greek, it represents , a voiceless labiodental fricative. In Ancient Greek it represented , an aspirated voiceless bilabial plosive...

{{polytonic|φεῖ}} {{polytonic|φῖ}} φι ph f [pʰ] [f] 500
Χ χ Chi
Chi (letter)
Chi is the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet, pronounced as in English.-Greek:-Ancient Greek:Its value in Ancient Greek was an aspirated velar stop .-Koine Greek:...

{{polytonic|χεῖ}} {{polytonic|χῖ}} χι ch ch, kh [kʰ] [x], [ç] 600
Ψ ψ Psi
Psi (letter)
Psi is the 23rd letter of the Greek alphabet and has a numeric value of 700. In both Classical and Modern Greek, the letter indicates the combination /ps/ . The letter was adopted into the Old Italic alphabet, and its shape is continued into the Algiz rune of the Elder Futhark...

{{polytonic|ψεῖ}} {{polytonic|ψῖ}} ψι ps [ps] 700
Ω ω
'Ayin
Ayin
' or ' is the sixteenth letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic . It is the twenty-first letter in the new Persian alphabet...

Omega
Omega
Omega is the 24th and last letter of the Greek alphabet. In the Greek numeric system, it has a value of 800. The word literally means "great O" , as opposed to omicron, which means "little O"...

{{polytonic|ὦ}} {{polytonic|ὦ μέγα}} ωμέγα o, ō o [ɔː] [o] 800
  1. For details and different transliteration systems see Romanization of Greek.

Obsolete letters

  • Digamma
    Digamma
    Digamma is an archaic letter of the Greek alphabet which originally stood for the sound /w/ and later remained in use only as a numeral symbol for the number "6"...

     or wau (Ϝ) was the continuation of Phoenician waw
    Waw (letter)
    Waw is the sixth letter of the Northwest Semitic family of scripts, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic ....

    , denoting the sound /w/. It stood in the sixth position in the alphabet, after Ε. It dropped out of use because the sound /w/ became mute during the archaic and classical era. It remained in use as a numeric sign denoting the number six. In this function, its shape in uncial and cursive writing changed to "ϛ", until in medieval Greek handwriting it was conflated with an accidentally similar ligature sign for "στ". The symbol "ϛ", both in its function as a numeral continuing that of digamma and in its function as a ligature, is today called "stigma".
  • San
    San (letter)
    San was an archaic letter of the Greek alphabet. Its shape was similar to modern M, or to a modern Greek Sigma turned sideways, and it was used as an alternative to Sigma to denote the sound . Unlike Sigma, whose position in the alphabet is between Rho and Tau, San appeared between Pi and Qoppa...

     (Ϻ), shaped like a modern M, was a continuation either of Phoenician sin
    Shin (letter)
    Shin literally means "Sharp" ; It is the twenty-first letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician , Aramaic/Hebrew , and Arabic ....

     or tsade
    Tsade
    ' is the eighteenth letter in many Semitic alphabets, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew ' and Arabic ' . Its oldest sound value is probably , although there is a variety of pronunciation in different modern Semitic languages and their dialects...

     (the exact relationship being unclear), and was used as an alternative to sigma in writing the sound /s/ in some dialects. It was replaced by standard sigma during the classical period. Its position in the alphabet was after pi.
  • Koppa (Ϙ) was the continuation of Phoenician Qoph
    Qoph
    Qoph or Qop is the nineteenth letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Syriac, Hebrew and Arabic alphabet . Its sound value is an emphatic or . The OHED gives the letter Qoph a transliteration value of Q or a K and a final transliteration value as a ck...

     and was used in some dialects to denote the retracted allophone of /k/ before back vowels. Like digamma, it remained in use as a numeral sign after it had become obsolete as an alphabetic letter. It is used for the number 90, reflecting its original position in the alphabet between pi and rho. In uncial and cursive handwriting its shape changed to {{GrGl|Koppa cursive 03}}{{GrGl|Koppa cursive 04}}. In its numeral function it is today displayed as {{polytonic|ϟ}}.
  • Sampi
    Sampi
    Sampi is an archaic letter of the Greek alphabet. It was used in addition to the classical 24 letters of the alphabet to denote some type of a sibilant sound, probably or , in some eastern Ionic dialects of ancient Greek in the 6th and 5th centuries BC...

     ({{GrGl|Sampi palaeographic 04|3=Ͳ}}), of unknown origin, was a short-lived addition used for writing a consonant /ts/ or /ss/ in some Ionic forms of Greece, and then remained in use as a numeral for 900. It may have been a continuation of san, although in its numeral position it did not continue the position of the latter but was placed at the end, after omega. In later handwriting its shape changed to {{GrGl|Sampi palaeographic 05}} and it is today displayed as {{polytonic|ϡ}}. Its modern name sampi probably refers to its shape ("(ὡ)σὰν πῖ", i.e. "like a pi").

Variant forms


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
Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

.
  • The symbol {{Unicode|ϐ}} ("curled beta") is a cursive variant form of beta
    Beta (letter)
    Beta is the second letter of the Greek alphabet. In Ancient Greek, beta represented the voiced bilabial plosive . In Modern Greek, it represents the voiced labiodental fricative ....

     (β). In the French tradition of Ancient Greek typography, β is used word-initially, and {{Unicode|ϐ}} is used word-internally.
  • The letter epsilon
    Epsilon
    Epsilon is the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet, corresponding phonetically to a close-mid front unrounded vowel . In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 5. It was derived from the Phoenician letter He...

     can occur in two equally frequent stylistic variants, either shaped ('lunate epsilon', like a semicircle with a stroke) or (similar to a reversed number 3). The symbol {{Unicode|ϵ}} (U+03F5) is designated specifically for the lunate form, used as a technical symbol.
  • The symbol {{Unicode|ϑ}} ("script theta") is a cursive form of theta
    Theta
    Theta is the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet, derived from the Phoenician letter Teth...

     (θ), frequent in handwriting, and used with a specialized meaning as a technical symbol.
  • The symbol {{Unicode|ϰ}} ("kappa symbol") is a cursive form of kappa
    Kappa
    Kappa is the 10th letter of the Greek alphabet, used to represent the voiceless velar stop, or "k", sound in Ancient and Modern Greek. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 20. It was derived from the Phoenician letter Kaph...

     (κ), used as a technical symbol.
  • The symbol {{Unicode|ϖ}} ("variant pi") is an archaic script form of pi
    Pi
    ' is a mathematical constant that is the ratio of any circle's circumference to its diameter. is approximately equal to 3.14. Many formulae in mathematics, science, and engineering involve , which makes it one of the most important mathematical constants...

     (π), also used as a technical symbol.
  • The letter rho
    Rho (letter)
    Rho is the 17th letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals, it has a value of 100. It is derived from Semitic resh "head"...

     (ρ) can occur in different stylistic variants, with the descending tail either going straight down or curled to the right. The symbol {{Unicode|ϱ}} (U+03F1) is designated specifically for the curled form, used as a technical symbol.
  • The letter sigma
    Sigma
    Sigma is the eighteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, and carries the 'S' sound. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 200. When used at the end of a word, and the word is not all upper case, the final form is used, e.g...

    , in standard orthography, has two variants: ς, used only at the ends of words, and σ, used elsewhere. The form {{Unicode|ϲ}} ("lunate sigma", resembling a Latin c
    C
    Ĉ or ĉ is a consonant in Esperanto orthography, representing the sound .Esperanto orthography uses a diacritic for all four of its postalveolar consonants, as do the Latin-based Slavic alphabets...

    ) is a medieval stylistic variant that can be used in both environments without the final/non-final distinction.
  • The capital letter upsilon
    Upsilon
    Upsilon is the 20th letter of the Greek alphabet.  In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 400. It is derived from the Phoenician waw. The name of the letter is pronounced in Modern Greek, and in English , , or...

     (Υ) can occur in different stylistic variants, with the upper strokes either straight like a Latin Y, or slightly curled. The symbol {{Unicode|ϒ}} (U+03D2) is designated specifically for the curled form, used as a technical symbol.
  • The letter phi
    Phi (letter)
    Phi , pronounced or sometimes in English, and in modern Greek, is the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet. In modern Greek, it represents , a voiceless labiodental fricative. In Ancient Greek it represented , an aspirated voiceless bilabial plosive...

     can occur in two equally frequent stylistic variants, either shaped as (a circle with a vertical stroke through it) or as (a curled shape open at the top). The symbol {{Unicode|ϕ}} (U+03D5) is designated specifically for the closed form, used as a technical symbol.

Digraphs and diphthongs


{{further|Greek orthography
Greek orthography
The orthography of the Greek language ultimately has its roots in the adoption of the Greek alphabet in the 9th century BC. Some time prior to that, one early form of Greek, Mycenaean, was written in Linear B, although there was a lapse of several centuries between the time Mycenaean stopped being...

}}

A digraph
Digraph (orthography)
A digraph or digram is a pair of characters used to write one phoneme or a sequence of phonemes that does not correspond to the normal values of the two characters combined...

 is a pair of letters used to write one sound or a combination of sounds that does not correspond to the written letters in sequence. The orthography of Greek includes several digraphs, including various pairs of vowel letters that used to be pronounced as diphthong
Diphthong
A diphthong , also known as a gliding vowel, refers to two adjacent vowel sounds occurring within the same syllable. Technically, a diphthong is a vowel with two different targets: That is, the tongue moves during the pronunciation of the vowel...

s but have been shortened to monophthong
Monophthong
A monophthong is a pure vowel sound, one whose articulation at both beginning and end is relatively fixed, and which does not glide up or down towards a new position of articulation....

s in pronunciation. Many of these are characteristic developments of modern Greek, but some, such as ΟΥ and ΕΙ , were already present in Classical Greek. None of them is regarded as a letter of the alphabet.

During the Byzantine period
Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek, also known as Byzantine Greek, is the stage of the Greek language between the beginning of the Middle Ages around 600 and the Ottoman conquest of the city of Constantinople in 1453. The latter date marked the end of the Middle Ages in Southeast Europe...

, it became customary to write the silent
Silent letter
In an alphabetic writing system, a silent letter is a letter that, in a particular word, does not correspond to any sound in the word's pronunciation...

 iota in digraphs as an iota subscript
Iota subscript
Iota subscript in Greek polytonic orthography is a way of writing the letter iota as a small vertical stroke beneath a vowel. It was used in the so-called "long diphthongs" in Ancient Greek, that is, diphthongs the first part of which is a long vowel: and...

 ({{polytonic|ᾳ, ῃ, ῳ}}).

Diacritics


{{main|Greek diacritics}}

In the polytonic orthography traditionally used for ancient Greek, vowels can carry diacritic
Diacritic
A diacritic is a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. The term derives from the Greek διακριτικός . Diacritic is both an adjective and a noun, whereas diacritical is only an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute and grave are often called accents...

s, namely accents and breathings. The accents are the acute accent
Acute accent
The acute accent is a diacritic used in many modern written languages with alphabets based on the Latin, Cyrillic, and Greek scripts.-Apex:An early precursor of the acute accent was the apex, used in Latin inscriptions to mark long vowels.-Greek:...

 ({{Big|{{Polytonic|ά}}}}), the grave accent
Grave accent
The grave accent is a diacritical mark used in written Breton, Catalan, Corsican, Dutch, French, Greek , Italian, Mohawk, Norwegian, Occitan, Portuguese, Scottish Gaelic, Vietnamese, Welsh, Romansh, and other languages.-Greek:The grave accent was first used in the polytonic orthography of Ancient...

 ({{Big|{{Polytonic|ὰ}}}}), and the circumflex accent ({{Big|{{Polytonic|α̃ }}}} or {{big|{{polytonic|α̑}}}}). In Ancient Greek, these accents marked different forms of the pitch accent
Pitch accent
Pitch accent is a linguistic term of convenience for a variety of restricted tone systems that use variations in pitch to give prominence to a syllable or mora within a word. The placement of this tone or the way it is realized can give different meanings to otherwise similar words...

 on a vowel. By the end of the Roman period, pitch accent had evolved into a stress accent
Stress (linguistics)
In linguistics, stress is the relative emphasis that may be given to certain syllables in a word, or to certain words in a phrase or sentence. The term is also used for similar patterns of phonetic prominence inside syllables. The word accent is sometimes also used with this sense.The stress placed...

, and in later Greek all of these accents marked the stressed vowel. The breathings are the rough breathing
Spiritus asper
In the polytonic orthography of Ancient Greek, the rough breathing , is a diacritical mark used to indicate the presence of an sound before a vowel, diphthong, or rho. It remained in the polytonic orthography even after the Hellenistic period, when the sound disappeared from the Greek language...

 ({{Big|{{Polytonic|ἁ}}}}), marking an /h/ sound at the beginning of a word, and the smooth breathing
Spiritus lenis
The smooth breathing is a diacritical mark used in polytonic orthography. In ancient Greek, it marks the absence of the voiceless glottal fricative from the beginning of a word....

 ({{Big|{{Polytonic|ἀ}}}}), marking its absence. The letter rho (ρ), although not a vowel, always carries a rough breathing when it begins a word. Another diacritic used in Greek is the diaeresis ({{Huge|{{Polytonic|¨}}}}), indicating a hiatus
Hiatus (linguistics)
In phonology, hiatus or diaeresis refers to two vowel sounds occurring in adjacent syllables, with no intervening consonant. When two adjacent vowel sounds occur in the same syllable, the result is instead described as a diphthong....

.

In 1982, the old spelling system, known as polytonic, was simplified to become the monotonic system, which is now official in Greece. The accents have been reduced to one, the tonos, and the breathings were abolished.

Use of the Greek script for other languages{{anchor|Greek script}}


The Greek alphabet has been adopted at various times and in various places to write other languages.{{sfn|Macrakis, Stavros M.|1996|p=}} For some languages, additional letters were introduced.

Antiquity

  • Most of the alphabets of Asia Minor
    Alphabets of Asia Minor
    Various alphabetic writing systems were in use in Iron Age Anatolia to record Anatolian dialects and the Phrygian language. Previously several of these languages had been written with logographic and syllabic systems....

    , in use c. 800-300 BC to write languages like Lydian
    Lydian language
    Lydian was an Indo-European language spoken in the region of Lydia in western Anatolia . It belongs to the Anatolian group of the Indo-European language family....

     and Phrygian
    Phrygian language
    The Phrygian language was the Indo-European language of the Phrygians, spoken in Asia Minor during Classical Antiquity .Phrygian is considered to have been closely related to Greek....

    , were the early Greek alphabet with only slight modifications — as were the original Old Italic alphabet
    Old Italic alphabet
    Old Italic refers to several now extinct alphabet systems used on the Italian Peninsula in ancient times for various Indo-European languages and non-Indo-European languages...

    s.
  • Some Paleo-Balkan languages
    Paleo-Balkan languages
    Paleo-Balkan is a geolinguistic term referring to the Indo-European languages that were spoken in the Balkans in ancient times. Except for Greek and the language that gave rise to Albanian , they are all extinct, due to Hellenization, Romanization, and Slavicisation.- Classification :The following...

    , including Thracian
    Thracian language
    The Thracian language was the Indo-European language spoken in ancient times in Southeastern Europe by the Thracians, the northern neighbors of the Ancient Greeks. The Thracian language exhibits satemization: it either belonged to the Satem group of Indo-European languages or it was strongly...

    . For other neighboring languages or dialects, such as Ancient Macedonian
    Ancient Macedonian language
    Ancient Macedonian was the language of the ancient Macedonians. It was spoken in the kingdom of Macedon during the 1st millennium BCE and it belongs to the Indo-European group of languages...

    , isolated words are preserved in Greek texts, but no continuous texts are preserved.
  • Some Gaulish
    Gaulish language
    The Gaulish language is an extinct Celtic language that was spoken by the Gauls, a people who inhabited the region known as Gaul from the Iron Age through the Roman period...

     inscriptions (in modern France) use the Greek alphabet (c. 300 BC).
  • The Hebrew
    Hebrew language
    Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

     text of the Bible
    Bible
    The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

     was written in Greek letters in Origen
    Origen
    Origen , or Origen Adamantius, 184/5–253/4, was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls...

    's Hexapla
    Hexapla
    Hexapla is the term for an edition of the Bible in six versions. Especially it applies to the edition of the Old Testament compiled by Origen of Alexandria, which placed side by side:#Hebrew...

    .
  • The Bactrian alphabet adds the letter Sho
    Sho (letter)
    The letter was a letter added to the Greek alphabet in order to write the Bactrian language. It was similar in appearance to the Anglo-Saxon and Icelandic letter thorn , which is sometimes used to represent it in modern print, although both are historically quite unrelated. It probably...

     and was used to write the Bactrian language
    Bactrian language
    The Bactrian language is an extinct Eastern Iranian language which was spoken in the Central Asian region of Bactria. Linguistically, it is classified as belonging to the middle period of the East Iranian branch...

     under the Kushan Empire
    Kushan Empire
    The Kushan Empire originally formed in the early 1st century AD under Kujula Kadphises in the territories of ancient Bactria on either side of the middle course of the Oxus in what is now northern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and southern Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.During the 1st and early 2nd centuries...

     (65-250 AD).{{sfn|Sims-Williams|1997|p=}}
  • The Coptic alphabet
    Coptic alphabet
    The Coptic alphabet is the script used for writing the Coptic language. The repertoire of glyphs is based on the Greek alphabet augmented by letters borrowed from the Demotic and is the first alphabetic script used for the Egyptian language...

     adds eight letters derived from Demotic
    Demotic (Egyptian)
    Demotic refers to either the ancient Egyptian script derived from northern forms of hieratic used in the Delta, or the stage of the Egyptian language following Late Egyptian and preceding Coptic. The term was first used by the Greek historian Herodotus to distinguish it from hieratic and...

    . It is still used today, mostly in Egypt, to write the Coptic language
    Coptic language
    Coptic or Coptic Egyptian is the current stage of the Egyptian language, a northern Afro-Asiatic language spoken in Egypt until at least the 17th century. Egyptian began to be written using the Greek alphabet in the 1st century...

    . Letters usually retain an uncial form different from the forms used for Greek today (compare with the forms of the Latin letters used in Gaelic script
    Gaelic script
    Gaelic type, sometimes called Irish character, Irish type, or Gaelic script, is a family of insular typefaces devised for printing Irish and used between the 16th and 20th centuries. Sometimes all Gaelic typefaces are called Celtic or uncial, though most Gaelic types are not uncials...

    ).

Middle Ages

  • An 8th-century Arabic
    Arabic language
    Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

     fragment preserves a text in the Greek alphabet.
  • An Old Ossetic
    Ossetic language
    Ossetian , also sometimes called Ossete, is an East Iranian language spoken in Ossetia, a region on the slopes of the Caucasus Mountains....

     inscription of the 10-12c AD found in Arxyz, the oldest known attestation of an Ossetic language.
  • The Old Nubian language
    Old Nubian language
    Old Nubian is an ancient variety of Nubian, attested in writing from the 8th to the 15th century . It is ancestral to modern-day Nobiin and related to other Nubian languages such as Dongolawi. It was used throughout the medieval Christian kingdom of Makuria and its satellite Nobadia...

     of Makuria
    Makuria
    The Kingdom of Makuria was a kingdom located in what is today Northern Sudan and Southern Egypt. It was one of a group of Nubian kingdoms that emerged during the decline of the Aksumite Empire, which it had been part of from approximately 4BC to AD 950...

     (modern Sudan) adds three Coptic letters, two letters derived from Meroitic script
    Meroitic script
    The Meroitic script is an alphabetic script originally derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs, used to write the Meroitic language of the Kingdom of Meroë/Kush. It was developed in the Napatan Period , and first appears in the 2nd century BCE. For a time, it was also possibly used to write the Nubian...

    , and a digraph of two Greek gammas used for the velar nasal
    Velar nasal
    The velar nasal is the sound of ng in English sing. It is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is , and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is N....

     sound.
  • Various South Slavic
    South Slavic languages
    The South Slavic languages comprise one of three branches of the Slavic languages. There are approximately 30 million speakers, mainly in the Balkans. These are separated geographically from speakers of the other two Slavic branches by a belt of German, Hungarian and Romanian speakers...

     dialects, similar to the modern Bulgarian
    Bulgarian language
    Bulgarian is an Indo-European language, a member of the Slavic linguistic group.Bulgarian, along with the closely related Macedonian language, demonstrates several linguistic characteristics that set it apart from all other Slavic languages such as the elimination of case declension, the...

     and Macedonian language
    Macedonian language
    Macedonian is a South Slavic language spoken as a first language by approximately 2–3 million people principally in the region of Macedonia but also in the Macedonian diaspora...

    s, have been written in Greek script.{{sfn|Miletich|1920|p=}}{{sfn|Mazon|Vaillant|1938|p=}}{{sfn|Kristophson|1974|p=11}}{{sfn|Peyfuss|1989|p=}} The modern South Slavic languages now use modified Cyrillic alphabet
    Cyrillic alphabet
    The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...

    s.

Early modern

  • Turkish
    Turkish language
    Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

     spoken by Orthodox Christians
    Eastern Orthodox Church
    The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

     (Karamanlides
    Karamanlides
    The Karamanlides , or simply Karamanlis, are a Greek Orthodox, Turkish-speaking people native to the Karaman and Cappadocia regions of Anatolia...

    ) was often written in Greek script, and called Karamanlidika
    Karamanli Turkish
    Karamanlı Turkish was a dialect of Turkish spoken by the Karamanlides, a community of Turkish-speaking orthodox Christians in Ottoman Turkey. While the official Ottoman Turkish was written in the Arabic script, the Anatolian Christian community used the Greek alphabet for writing its form of Turkish...

    .
  • Tosk Albanian
    Albanian language
    Albanian is an Indo-European language spoken by approximately 7.6 million people, primarily in Albania and Kosovo but also in other areas of the Balkans in which there is an Albanian population, including western Macedonia, southern Montenegro, southern Serbia and northwestern Greece...

     was often written using the Greek alphabet, starting in about 1500{{sfn|Elsie|1991|p=}}. The printing press at Moschopolis published several Albanian texts in Greek script during the 18th century. It was only in 1908 that the Monastir
    Bitola
    Bitola is a city in the southwestern part of the Republic of Macedonia. The city is an administrative, cultural, industrial, commercial, and educational centre. It is located in the southern part of the Pelagonia valley, surrounded by the Baba and Nidže mountains, 14 km north of the...

     conference standardized a Latin orthography
    Albanian alphabet
    The modern Albanian alphabet is based on the Latin alphabet, and consists of 36 letters:Note: The vowels are shown in bold. to the pronunciation of the letters.-History:...

     for both Tosk and Gheg. Greek spelling is still occasionally used for the local Albanian dialects (Arvanitika
    Arvanitika
    Arvanitika also known Arvanitic is the variety of Albanian traditionally spoken by the Arvanites, a population group in Greece...

    ) in Greece.
  • Aromanian
    Aromanian language
    Aromanian , also known as Macedo-Romanian, Arumanian or Vlach is an Eastern Romance language spoken in Southeastern Europe...

     (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
    Romanian language
    Romanian Romanian Romanian (or Daco-Romanian; obsolete spellings Rumanian, Roumanian; self-designation: română, limba română ("the Romanian language") or românește (lit. "in Romanian") is a Romance language spoken by around 24 to 28 million people, primarily in Romania and Moldova...

     orthography will be adopted.
  • Gagauz
    Gagauz language
    The Gagauz language is a Turkic language, spoken by the Gagauz people, and the official language of Gagauzia, Moldova. There are two dialects, Bulgar Gagauzi and Maritime Gagauzi. This is a different language from Balkan Gagauz Turkish....

    , a Turkic language of the northeast Balkans.
  • Surguch, a Turkic language spoken by a small group of Orthodox Christians
    Eastern Orthodox Church
    The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

     in northern Greece.
  • Urum
    Urum language
    Urum is a Turkic language spoken by several thousand people who inhabit a few villages in the Southeastern Ukraine and in diaspora communities worldwide. The Urum language is often considered a variant of the Crimean Tatar language....

     or Greek Tatar.

Derived alphabets


The Greek alphabet gave rise to various others:{{sfn|Coulmas|1996|p=}}
  • The Latin alphabet
    Latin alphabet
    The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

    , an offshoot of an archaic western form of the Greek alphabet
  • The Gothic alphabet
    Gothic alphabet
    The Gothic alphabet is an alphabet for writing the Gothic language, created in the 4th century by Ulfilas for the purpose of translating the Christian Bible....

    , devised in Late Antiquity
    Late Antiquity
    Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

     to write the Gothic language
    Gothic language
    Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

  • The Glagolitic alphabet
    Glagolitic alphabet
    The Glagolitic alphabet , also known as Glagolitsa, is the oldest known Slavic alphabet. The name was not coined until many centuries after its creation, and comes from the Old Slavic glagolъ "utterance" . The verb glagoliti means "to speak"...

    , devised in the Middle Ages
    Middle Ages
    The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

     for writing Slavic languages
    Slavic languages
    The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

  • The Cyrillic alphabet
    Cyrillic alphabet
    The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...

    , which replaced the Glagolitic alphabet shortly afterwards
  • The International Phonetic Alphabet
    International Phonetic Alphabet
    The International Phonetic Alphabet "The acronym 'IPA' strictly refers [...] to the 'International Phonetic Association'. But it is now such a common practice to use the acronym also to refer to the alphabet itself that resistance seems pedantic...

     contains many Latin and Greek letters.


It is also considered a possible ancestor of the Armenian alphabet
Armenian alphabet
The Armenian alphabet is an alphabet that has been used to write the Armenian language since the year 405 or 406. It was devised by Saint Mesrop Mashtots, an Armenian linguist and ecclesiastical leader, and contained originally 36 letters. Two more letters, օ and ֆ, were added in the Middle Ages...

, and had an influence on the development of the Georgian alphabet
Georgian alphabet
The Georgian alphabet is the writing system used to write the Georgian language and other Kartvelian languages , and occasionally other languages of the Caucasus such as Ossetic and Abkhaz during the 1940s...

.

Greek in mathematics


{{main|Greek letters used in mathematics, science, and engineering}}
Greek symbols are traditionally used as names in mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 and other science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

s. When combined with Latin characters, the Latin characters usually indicate variables
Variable (mathematics)
In mathematics, a variable is a value that may change within the scope of a given problem or set of operations. In contrast, a constant is a value that remains unchanged, though often unknown or undetermined. The concepts of constants and variables are fundamental to many areas of mathematics and...

 while the Greek ones indicate parameters. Many symbols have traditional uses, such as lower case epsilon (ε) for an arbitrarily small positive number
Limit (mathematics)
In mathematics, the concept of a "limit" is used to describe the value that a function or sequence "approaches" as the input or index approaches some value. The concept of limit allows mathematicians to define a new point from a Cauchy sequence of previously defined points within a complete metric...

, lower case pi (π) for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter
Pi
' is a mathematical constant that is the ratio of any circle's circumference to its diameter. is approximately equal to 3.14. Many formulae in mathematics, science, and engineering involve , which makes it one of the most important mathematical constants...

, capital sigma (Σ) for summation
Summation
Summation is the operation of adding a sequence of numbers; the result is their sum or total. If numbers are added sequentially from left to right, any intermediate result is a partial sum, prefix sum, or running total of the summation. The numbers to be summed may be integers, rational numbers,...

, and lower case sigma (σ) for standard deviation
Standard deviation
Standard deviation is a widely used measure of variability or diversity used in statistics and probability theory. It shows how much variation or "dispersion" there is from the average...

.

Greek encodings


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
ISO/IEC 8859-7
ISO/IEC 8859-7:2003, Information technology — 8-bit single-byte coded graphic character sets — Part 7: Latin/Greek alphabet, is part of the ISO/IEC 8859 series of ASCII-based standard character encodings, first edition published in 1987. It is informally referred to as Latin/Greek. It was designed...

 and Unicode
Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

. ISO 8859-7 supports only the monotonic orthography; Unicode supports the polytonic orthography.

ISO/IEC 8859-7


For the range A0–FF (hex) it follows the 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).

Greek in Unicode


Unicode supports polytonic orthography well enough for ordinary continuous text in modern and ancient Greek, and even many archaic forms for epigraphy
Epigraphy
Epigraphy Epigraphy Epigraphy (from the , literally "on-writing", is the study of inscriptions or epigraphs as writing; that is, the science of identifying the graphemes and of classifying their use as to cultural context and date, elucidating their meaning and assessing what conclusions can be...

. With the use of combining character
Combining character
In digital typography, combining characters are characters that are intended to modify other characters. The most common combining characters in the Latin script are the combining diacritical marks ....

s, Unicode also supports Greek philology
Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

 and dialectology
Dialectology
Dialectology is the scientific study of linguistic dialect, a sub-field of sociolinguistics. It studies variations in language based primarily on geographic distribution and their associated features...

 and various other specialized requirements. However, Unicode still falls short in rendering the full range of Greek letter forms. Most current text rendering engines do not support diacritics well, so, though alpha with macron
Macron
A macron, from the Greek , meaning "long", is a diacritic placed above a vowel . It was originally used to mark a long or heavy syllable in Greco-Roman metrics, but now marks a long vowel...

 and acute
Acute accent
The acute accent is a diacritic used in many modern written languages with alphabets based on the Latin, Cyrillic, and Greek scripts.-Apex:An early precursor of the acute accent was the apex, used in Latin inscriptions to mark long vowels.-Greek:...

 can be represented as U+03B1 U+0304 U+0301, this rarely renders well: {{Polytonic|ᾱ́}}.

There are 2 main blocks of Greek characters in Unicode
Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

.
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
Coptic alphabet
The Coptic alphabet is the script used for writing the Coptic language. The repertoire of glyphs is based on the Greek alphabet augmented by letters borrowed from the Demotic and is the first alphabetic script used for the Egyptian language...

. 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).

{{Unicode chart Greek and Coptic}}
{{Unicode chart Greek Extended}}

Combining and letter-free diacritics


Combining and spacing (letter-free) diacritical marks pertaining to Greek language
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

:
combiningspacingsampledescription
U+0300 U+0060 ( {{polytonic| ̀}}) "varia / grave accent
Grave accent
The grave accent is a diacritical mark used in written Breton, Catalan, Corsican, Dutch, French, Greek , Italian, Mohawk, Norwegian, Occitan, Portuguese, Scottish Gaelic, Vietnamese, Welsh, Romansh, and other languages.-Greek:The grave accent was first used in the polytonic orthography of Ancient...

"
U+0301 U+00B4, U+0384 ( {{polytonic| ́}}) "oxia / tonos / acute accent
Acute accent
The acute accent is a diacritic used in many modern written languages with alphabets based on the Latin, Cyrillic, and Greek scripts.-Apex:An early precursor of the acute accent was the apex, used in Latin inscriptions to mark long vowels.-Greek:...

"
U+0304 U+00AF ( {{unicode| ̄}}) "macron
Macron
A macron, from the Greek , meaning "long", is a diacritic placed above a vowel . It was originally used to mark a long or heavy syllable in Greco-Roman metrics, but now marks a long vowel...

"
U+0306 U+02D8 ( {{unicode| ̆}}) "vrachy / breve
Breve
A breve is a diacritical mark ˘, shaped like the bottom half of a circle. It resembles the caron , but is rounded, while the caron has a sharp tip...

"
U+0308 U+00A8 ( {{unicode| ̈}}) "dialytika / diaeresis"
U+0313 U+02BC ( {{unicode| ̓}}) "psili / comma above" (spiritus lenis
Spiritus lenis
The smooth breathing is a diacritical mark used in polytonic orthography. In ancient Greek, it marks the absence of the voiceless glottal fricative from the beginning of a word....

)
U+0314 U+02BD ( {{unicode| ̔}}) "dasia / reversed comma above" (spiritus asper
Spiritus asper
In the polytonic orthography of Ancient Greek, the rough breathing , is a diacritical mark used to indicate the presence of an sound before a vowel, diphthong, or rho. It remained in the polytonic orthography even after the Hellenistic period, when the sound disappeared from the Greek language...

)
U+0342 ( {{unicode| ͂}}) "perispomeni" (circumflex
Circumflex
The circumflex is a diacritic used in the written forms of many languages, and is also commonly used in various romanization and transcription schemes. It received its English name from Latin circumflexus —a translation of the Greek περισπωμένη...

)
U+0343 ( {{unicode| ̓}}) "koronis" (= U+0313)
U+0344 U+0385 ( {{unicode| ̈́}}) "dialytika tonos" (deprecated, = U+0308 U+0301)
U+0345 U+037A ( {{unicode| ͅ}}) "ypogegrammeni / iota subscript
Iota subscript
Iota subscript in Greek polytonic orthography is a way of writing the letter iota as a small vertical stroke beneath a vowel. It was used in the so-called "long diphthongs" in Ancient Greek, that is, diphthongs the first part of which is a long vowel: and...

".

Encodings with a subset of the Greek alphabet


IBM
IBM
International Business Machines Corporation or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas...

 code pages 437
Code page 437
IBM PC or MS-DOS code page 437 is the character set of the original IBM PC. It is also known as CP 437, OEM 437, PC-8, MS-DOS Latin US or sometimes misleadingly referred to as the OEM font, High ASCII or Extended ASCII....

, 860
Code page 860
Code page 860 is a code page used under MS-DOS to write Portuguese.-Code page layout:...

, 861
Code page 861
Code page 861 is a code page used under MS-DOS to write the Icelandic language .-Code page layout:...

, 862
Code page 862
Code page 862 is a code page used under MS-DOS for Hebrew.Like ISO 8859-8, it encodes only letters, not vowel-points or cantillation marks...

, 863
Code page 863
Code page 863 is a code page used under MS-DOS to write French language .-Code page layout:...

, and 865
Code page 865
Code page 865 is a code page used under MS-DOS to write Nordic languages ....

 contain the letters ΓΘΣΦΩαδεπστφ (plus β as an alternate interpretation for ß
ß
In the German alphabet, ß is a letter that originated as a ligature of ss or sz. Like double "s", it is pronounced as an , but in standard spelling, it is only used after long vowels and diphthongs, while ss is used after short vowels...

).

See also


{{Wikipedia books|Greek alphabet}}
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  • Ancient Greek phonology
    Ancient Greek phonology
    Ancient Greek phonology is the study of the phonology, or pronunciation, of Ancient Greek. Because of the passage of time, the original pronunciation of Ancient Greek, like that of all ancient languages, can never be known with absolute certainty...

  • Archaic Greek alphabets
    Archaic Greek alphabets
    Many local variants of the Greek alphabet were employed in ancient Greece during the archaic and early classical periods, until they were replaced by the classical 24-letter alphabet that is the standard today, around 400 BC...

  • Arvanitic alphabet
  • Attic numerals
    Attic numerals
    Attic numerals were used by the ancient Greeks, possibly from the 7th century BC. They were also known as Herodianic numerals because they were first described in a 2nd century manuscript by Herodian...

    , a system of acrophonic representing numbers using letters of the Greek alphabet
  • Euboean alphabet Cumae alphabet
  • English pronunciation of Greek letters
    English pronunciation of Greek letters
    This table gives the common English pronunciation of Greek letters using the International Phonetic Alphabet It is the pronunciation of the ancient Greek names of the Greek letters using the English teaching pronunciation...

  • Greek Font Society
    Greek Font Society
    The Greek Font Society is a non-profit organization in Greece, founded in 1992, devoted to improving the standard of Greek digital typography.It has issued four digital fonts, all with full polytonic support:...

  • Greek letters used in mathematics, science, and engineering
  • Greek numerals
    Greek numerals
    Greek numerals are a system of representing numbers using letters of the Greek alphabet. They are also known by the names Ionian numerals, Milesian numerals , Alexandrian numerals, or alphabetic numerals...

    , a system of sequential representing numbers using letters of the Greek alphabet
  • Greek spelling alphabet Hellenic phonetic alphabet
  • Greeklish
    Greeklish
    Greeklish, a portmanteau of the words Greek and English, also known as Grenglish, Latinoellinika/Λατινοελληνικά or ASCII Greek, is the Greek language written using the Latin alphabet...

  • List of Greek words with English derivatives
  • List of XML and HTML character entity references
  • Phoenician alphabet
    Phoenician alphabet
    The Phoenician alphabet, called by convention the Proto-Canaanite alphabet for inscriptions older than around 1050 BC, was a non-pictographic consonantal alphabet, or abjad. It was used for the writing of Phoenician, a Northern Semitic language, used by the civilization of Phoenicia...

  • Romanization of Greek Greek transliteration
  • :Category:Hellenic scripts

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Further reading

- especially noted for an excellent discussion on traditional accents and breathings, as well as verbal formation — A popular history, more about Greek roots in English than about the alphabet itself. — Includes papers on history, typography, and character coding by Hermann Zapf
Hermann Zapf
Hermann Zapf is a German typeface designer who lives in Darmstadt, Germany. He is married to calligrapher and typeface designer Gudrun Zapf von Hesse....

, Matthew Carter
Matthew Carter
Matthew Carter is a type designer. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. Carter's career in type design has witnessed the transition from physical metal type to digital type...

, Nicolas Barker, John A. Lane, Kyle McCarter, Jerôme Peignot, Pierre MacKay, Silvio Levy, et al. — discusses dating, early inscriptions, and ties to origin of texts of Homer. ISBN 052158907X

External links


{{Wiktionary|Appendix:Greek script}}
{{Commons|Greek alphabet}}

Typography


{{ Greek language | 1 | 2 | }}
{{list of writing systems}}

{{DEFAULTSORT:Greek Alphabet}}