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greek alphabet

the greek alphabet - Greek symbols, English alphabet equivalents and Greek pronunciation

Ancient Greek culture, science and philosophy have all influenced the modern world. So has the Greek language. The Greek alphabet is thousands of years old. Letters and symbols from the Greek alphabet are all around us. The word 'alphabet' derives from the first two letters, alpha and beta. Some of the Greek letters you'll know as other word meanings or brand names. Many are not generally known to have Greek origin. There are 24 letters in the Greek alphabet. Some of the Greek letter names and symbols have become different icons like the pi sign (for the mathematical value 3.142) and mu the micro symbol (µ). Other Greek letters and symbols will be less familiar. There are three 'i' letter - eta, iota and upsilon - each with the similar 'ee' sound, from classical Greek origins now redundant. For the same reason there are two identical sounding 'o' (as in box) letters - omicron and omega.

the greek alphabet

Greek name of letter Symbol English equivalent Pronounciation
alpha a a a as in smart
beta b b v as in very
gamma g g between y as in yes and g as in go, but with no hard 'g' sound - more of a soft 'h' followed by the 'y' sound in yes
delta d d th as in the 
epsilon e e e as in very
zeta z z z as in zoo
eta h e ee as in bee
theta q th th as in think
iota i i ee as in bee or i as in bitter or sit
kappa k k k as in look
lamda l l l as in log
mu m m m as in man
nu n n n as in not
xi x x x as in box
omicron o o o as in box
pi p p p as in top, but softer and close to 'b'
rho r r, rh a rolled r
sigma s s s as in sap with a hint of sh as in sugar
tau t t t as in lot, but softer and close to 'd'
upsilon u u same as eta - ee as in bee
phi j ph ph as in photo
chi c kh ch as in the scottish 'loch' but softer - not a hard sound
psi y ps ps as in upside
omega w M like omicron - o as in box - or longer 'o' sound like the vowel sound in oar


My apologies that due to a technical oversight during early 2009 the Greek symbols above did not display properly.

Thanks for symbols Simon, and for pronunciation suggestions Pan. Thanks also R Keys for other coding suggestions.

Please note that as with most languages pronunciation varies according to regional dialect. Similarly as with other languages, many of these Greek sounds can only be reliably produced by natural and fluent Greek-speaking people. Also there will be some variation between the ancient Greek pronunciation and modern Greek language. The above is just a guide to pronunciation. The main purpose of this page is to identify and describe the many Greek letters that have entered the English language.

More detailed Greek alphabet information here.

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