Humanities › History & Culture What Are the Letters of the Greek Alphabet? Share Flipboard Email Print GM Stock Films / Getty Images History & Culture Ancient History and Culture Ancient Languages Figures & Events Greece Egypt Asia Rome Mythology & Religion American History African American History African History Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By N.S. Gill Ancient History and Latin Expert M.A., Linguistics, University of Minnesota B.A., Latin, University of Minnesota N.S. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. She has been featured by NPR and National Geographic for her ancient history expertise. our editorial process N.S. Gill Updated February 20, 2020 The Greek alphabet was developed about 1000 BCE, based on the Phoenician's North Semitic Alphabet. It contains 24 letters including seven vowels, and all of its letters are capitals. While it looks different, it is actually the forebear of all European alphabets. History of the Greek Alphabet The Greek alphabet went through several changes. Before the fifth century BCE, there were two similar Greek alphabets, the Ionic and Chalcidian. The Chalcidian alphabet was very possibly the forerunner of the Etruscan alphabet and, later, the Latin alphabet. It is the Latin alphabet that forms the basis of most European alphabets. Meanwhile, Athens adopted the Ionic alphabet; as a result, it is still used in modern Greece. While the original Greek alphabet was written in all capitals, three different scripts were created to make it easier to write quickly. These including uncial, a system for connecting capital letters, as well as the more familiar cursive and minuscule. Minuscule is the basis for modern Greek handwriting. Why You Should Know the Greek Alphabet Even if you never plan to learn Greek, there are good reasons to familiarize yourself with the alphabet. Mathematics and Science use Greek letters like PI (π) to complement the numeric symbols. That same SIGMA in its capital form can stand for "sum," while the letter DELTA can mean "change."Greek letters are used to designate fraternities, sororities, and philanthropic organizations.Some books in English are numbered using the letters of the Greek alphabet. Sometimes, both lower case and capitals are employed for simplification. Thus, you may find that the books of the "Iliad" are written Α to Ω and those of "The Odyssey", α to ω. Get to Know the Greek Alphabet Upper Case Lower Case Letter Name Α α alpha Β β beta Γ γ gamma Δ δ delta Ε ε epsilon Ζ ζ zeta Η η eta Θ θ theta Ι ι iota Κ κ kappa Λ λ lamda Μ μ mu Ν ν nu Ξ ξ xi Ο ο omicron Π π pi Ρ ρ rho Σ σ,ς sigma Τ τ tau Υ υ upsilon Φ φ phi Χ χ chi Ψ ψ psi Ω ω omega How to Write Greek Letters With HTML Learn How to Pronounce the Greek Alphabet Who Invented the First Alphabet? The Semitic, Etruscan, and Greek History Behind Latin Letters Learn Spanish Pronunciation to a T How the Greek Alphabet Developed What Is the NATO Phonetic Alphabet? Table of Greek Letters Used in Chemistry What Is the Alphabet in English? What Makes Silent Letters So Tricky? From A to Z: Quick Facts About the English Alphabet Learn Fast Facts About Ancient Greek Colonies Everything You've Wanted To Know About the Spanish ‘E’ Understand Electrical Conductivity How Star Naming Works Which Parts of the Greek Alphabet are Used in the Greek System?