Greek Letters & Symbols: Ancient Alphabet

April 15, 2024
One of the most noticeable aspects of Ancient Greek architecture and art is Greek letters. This is not surprising since Ancient Greece was considered as the land of enlightenment where human understanding and knowledge reached their heights; therefore, they had to invent a symbol - a new kind of alphabet - that would underline this fantastic progress.
Symbol (Upper Case) Symbol (Lower Case) Greek Name English Version
Α α Alpha a
Λ λ Lambda l
Γ γ Gamma g
Ο ο Omicron o
Κ κ Kappa k
Η η Eta h
Δ δ Delta d
Π π Pi p
Θ θ Theta th
Ι ι Iota i
Ν ν Nu n
Β β Beta b
Ζ ζ Zeta z
Ψ ψ Psi ps
Υ υ Upsilon u
Ε ε Epsilon e
Μ μ Mu m
Ξ ξ Xi x
Ρ ρ Rho r
Σ σ,ς * Sigma s
Τ τ Tau t
Φ φ Phi ph
Χ χ Chi ch
Ω ω Omega o

Greek alphabet, is the first alphabetic writing system of western civilization. It was developed in Archaic Greece (ca. the eighth century BC) in a time when most Greeks were still at an early stage of development and had limited understanding of the functions of literature and art. The Phoenician alphabet may have served as a model after which the Greeks designed their own characters.

Greek Letters
Greek letters and symbols

Most Used Greek Symbols

Most Used Greek Symbols - The first alphabet was written and developed by the ancient Greeks more than 3,000 years ago. 

They were called the Phoenicians who lived in today's Lebanon. They gave the alphabet to other countries and it spread throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and Northern India where it was improved upon. 

The first known inscription dates back to 800 B.C., on an ancient tomb wall in southern Italy. Once they became widely accepted they were used not only for religious manuscripts but for ordinary purposes as well.

Here are most used greek symbols:

Lambda symbol

Lambda symbol icon

Lambda (uppercase Λ, lowercase ϰ; Greek: λλδ) is the 11th letter of the Greek alphabet. It was derived from the Phoenician Lamed . Letters in other alphabets that stemmed from lambda include the Latin L, the Cyrillic El (Ллъ), and the Arabic .

Alpha symbol

Alpha symbol icon

Alpha symbol is a short name used to identify one of the Greek letters. The full name is always used because it shows which letter you mean, but the short name is useful when giving character mnemonics, and in the case of alpha, where there is another letter with an accompanying numerical value (alpha and A are 15), and also in astronomy, where there are many stars with Greek letters.

Delta symbol

Delta symbol

The Delta symbol is usually used in Chemistry. Delta symbol has a very important role to play in chemistry. This symbol denotes the change of reactant to product. This delta symbol looks like a triangle with lines inside it. The lines also known as arms are interconnected with its apex. 

Pi symbol

Pi symbol, 3d render, on pastel blue background

Pi symbol is a mathematical constant. It is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, commonly approximated as 3.14159. Mathematics was invented during the time and early civilizations for various practical uses in fields like architecture, astronomy and construction.

The symbols used were numerals which have stood the test of time due to their perceived advantages over natural language. 

As civilizations developed so did the need for mathematical computations which led to the birth of mathematics.

Theta symbol

Nowadays, most sewing tops are indicated by just two fabrics. But back in the wild old days there might be 6-8 fabrics, not to mention pocketing. For example, a shirt covered in white lines on black: white for the lines, black for the fabric. It may seem like there's no way to sew it nicely with one symbol but there is a way. This symbol is called 'Theta symbol' or 'Θ' .

Beta symbol

The group of Beta (β) in the Greek alphabet consists of three letter symbols. It is a lower case letter, and is the second letter of the Greek alphabet (Βαρύτερος, beta). It represents the consonant[b] /b/. In ancient times, the shape of Beta looked like pi and eventually, a straight horizontal line with no serifs.

Zeta symbol

Today I'd like to write about a mathematical symbol which is called the Zeta symbol. Zeta symbol along with omega and iota are three types of similar looking symbols used in mathematics. All these symbols are based on the letter "z" or "Ζ". 

When used as a variable, it means the number of elements from the total group of elements. The Zeta symbol is also used as a variable for unknown Greek numerals in mathematical expressions.

Xi symbol

Xi symbol - Greek letter Xi was called Chi by the ancient Greeks. When two Chi's were needed, Xi was reached because it is the last of all the basic letters on the left column of the Greek alphabet. It became X when scribes wanted to indicate that a word was being spelled out.

Omega symbol

Omega symbol ,or "Literal meaning of omega" is used as a mathematical symbol of the last ordinal number in the limit series. This means that omega is a part of the basic Greek Alphabet . The position of the character is at the end of the alphabet, and it signifies the end.

Greek History and Math

Whether it be Greek or Roman history, math, physics, astronomy, geography or architecture, it's the same story over and over again: Greece is where it all started. 

These great scholars were so far ahead of their time that they are still considered to be the greatest minds that ever lived. 

Their names are still celebrated today in many different academic and scientific disciplines: Euclid, Pythagoras, Archimedes, Plato, Aristotle and many others. 

The knowledge they gathered and passed down to humanity is simply amazing. The history of science will always owe a great debt to the Greeks.

Roman Numerals

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