The Greek Alphabet

I first came across the Greek alphabet at the age of twelve, while attempting a crossword. I didn't realize you were allowed to spell individual letters in crosswords, let alone letters from an obscure alphabet!

As it turns out, a knowledge of the Greek alphabet has not only helped me solve crosswords, but has been pretty handy in Scrabble too! But before I start rambling any further, here is the full set of Greek letters with their traditional spellings...

The Greek letters are not only handy in word games and puzzles, but also very useful for vocabulary building - especially if you like to read about science, which uses this alphabet extensively.

Here are some examples of the Greek letters in action...

ALPHA

Word Trivia...

Being the first letter of the alphabet, alpha is often used to denote the first of anything. In astronomy, for example, alpha is used as an adjective denoting the brightest star in a constellation (most famous, perhaps, is Alpha Centauri).

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - none
Hooks - ALPHAS

Crossword Clues...

A
Beta preceder
First of a series
A as in Archimedes
Beginning
Letter opener?
Omega's opposite
___, beta, gamma...
Numeric lead-in
___ Phi Omega
First letter
Part of many stars' names
Kind of star
Dominant
Main male
Top dog

BETA

Word Trivia...

Like alpha, beta is often used to represent the 2nd of anything. In the world of software, for example, the term beta release is used to refer to a software distribution that is secondary to the official release of a product.

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - ABET, BATE, BEAT
Hooks - BETAS

Crossword Clues...

Test version
Not yet final, in a way
Second in a series
Second of 24
Phi ___ Kappa
Alpha, ___, gamma
Kind of blocker
Certain constellation star
Key letter
___ carotene
Phase constant, in physics
Kind of star

GAMMA

Word Trivia...

Gamma is reserved by physicists for representing high energy electromagnetic radiation, or 'gamma rays'. In relativity theory they also like to use it to represent the ratio of the speed of an object to the speed of light.

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - MAGMA
Hooks - GAMMAS, GAMMAT

Crossword Clues...

___ radiation
Letter after beta
Beta follower
Kind of ray
Alpha, beta, ___
Symbol of magnetic field strength
Delta preceder

DELTA

Word Trivia...

Delta has long been used by physicists to represent a change in the value of something (like speed or location). Nowadays you'll sometimes hear a software engineer talking about 'taking a delta of two files', meaning to find the differences between them.

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - DEALT, LATED
Hooks - DELTAS

Crossword Clues...

Certain sorority member
Triangular formation
Fourth in a series
"D" in radio talk

EPSILON

Word Trivia...

Epsilon is frequently used by mathematicians to represent an extremely small quantity. The great number theorist Paul Erdös used to refer fondly to his grand children as his 'little epsilons'. Geeky, yes, but irresistible all the same, don't you think?

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - PINOLES
Hooks - EPSILONS

Crossword Clues...

Fraternity letter
Electromotive force symbol
Delta follower
Small quantity symbol, in math

ZETA

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - none
Hooks - ZETAS

Crossword Clues...

Certain sorority woman
Epsilon follower
Sixth in a pledge's recitation
Letter that's not really at the end of the Greek alphabet
Sixth-brightest star in a constellation
Second after delta
Sixth Greek letter
Fraternity letter

ETA

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - ATE, EAT, TAE, TEA
Hooks - BETA, FETA, GETA, KETA, META, SETA, WETA, ZETA

Crossword Clues...

Seventh Greek letter
Second letter after epsilon
H
___ Kappa Nu (honor society)
Seventh-brightest star in a constellation
__ Carinae (hypergiant star)
Fraternity chapter
Third after delta
H, to Hellenes
Viscosity symbol, in physics
Lesser star designation in a constellation
I ___ Pi (playful fraternity name)
Letter from Greece
Greek vowel
Zeta follower
Second letter before iota
Athenian vowel
Seventh letter
Third letter after delta
Second letter after epsilon
Seventh in a series
H, to Herodotus
Sorority letter
It's H-shaped
Letter from the Corinth
Seventh chapter of a fraternity
Hippocrates' H
Letter of a chapter?
Viscosity symbol
Sixth after alpha
Efficiency symbol, in physics
Hellenic vowel
The "H" in Hellenic
Second letter after epsilon
Hesiod's H
Leter from Plato

THETA

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - None
Hooks - THETAS

Crossword Clues...

Letter before iota
Letter between eta and iota
Sorority letter
Fraternity letter
Angle denoter, in math
Oval letter with a line through the middle
Angle measurement symbol
Temperature symbol
Kind of radiation, in science fiction
Eighth in a series
Eta-iota link
Eta follower

IOTA

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - None
Hooks - BIOTA, DIOTA

Crossword Clues...

Letter after theta
Greek "I"
Letter before kappa
Ninth in a series
Theta-kappa go-between
Greek vowel

KAPPA

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - None
Hooks - KAPPAS

Crossword Clues...

Phi Beta___
Letter after Beta in a society's name
Certain sorority woman
Key letter
Honor society letter

LAMBDA

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - None
Hooks - LAMBDAS

Crossword Clues...

Sorority letter
Upside-down V
kind of particle in physics
Kappa follower

MU

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - UM
Hooks - AMU, EMU, UMU, MUD, MUG, MUM, MUN, MUS, MUT, MUX

Word Trivia...

Mu is a favorite of statisticians who use it to represent the average, or mean, of a set of values. Physicists use this one for lots of things, including the coefficient of friction, and an electromagnetic quantity called the permittivity of free space.

NU

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - UN
Hooks - GNU, NUB, NUN, NUR, NUS, NUT

XI

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - None
Hooks - XIS

OMICRON

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - MORONIC
Hooks - OMICRONS

Crossword Clues...

A fraternity chapter
Pi preceder

PI

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - None
Hooks - PIA, PIC, PIE, PIG, PIN, PIP, PIR, PIS, PIT, PIU, PIX

RHO

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - None
Hooks - RHOS


Crossword Clues...

Pythagorean character
Sigma preceder
P
Pi's follower
Faternity P
The "r" in Aristotle
Density symbol, in physics
Letter between pi and sigma
Letter from the Corinthians
P, to Plato
Sorority letter
17th chapter
Sweater letter
P, on a fraternity jacket
Greek consonent
Christogram letter
P, in Greece

SIGMA

Word Trivia...

Like mu, sigma is a favorite of statisticians. It is used to represent the standard deviation of a set of numbers. The standard deviation indicates how spread out the values are around their average.

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - AGISM
Hooks - SIGMAS

Crossword Clues...

TAU

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - UTA
Hooks - TAUS, TAUT

Crossword Clues...

Arithmetic series symbol
Standard deviation symbol
Calculus symbol
Science society ___ Xi
Symbol of conductivity
Fraternity letter
___ Alpha Epsilon fraternity
Greek S
Greek letter

UPSILON

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - PULSION
Hooks - UPSILONS

Crossword Clues...

Greek vowel

PHI

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - HIP
Hooks - PHIS, PHIZ

Crossword Clues...

___ phenomenon (optical illusion)
___ Beta Kappa
Symbol of electric flux
Upsilon follower
Honor society letter
Sorority letter
Key letter
Key opener?
Letter before Beta in a society's name
Campus letter
Fluidity symbol, in mechanics
Magnetic flux symbol

CHI

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - HIC, ICH
Hooks - CHIA, CHIB, CHIC, CHID, CHIK, CHIN, CHIP, CHIS, CHIT, CHIV, CHIZ

Crossword Clues...

Delta Tau ___ ("Animal House" house)
Greek X
___-square test, in statistics
Phi follower
X
Sorority letter
Campus letter
Psi's preceder
Frat letter
X, to Xenophon

PSI

Word Trivia...

Psi has come to characterize the weirdness of the quantum world. Ever since the earliest days of quantum theory, this letter has been used to represent the wave function of a system. No one has been able to work out exactly how this wave function should be interpreted.

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - PIS, SIP
Hooks - PSIS

Crossword Clues...

Wave function symbol
Letter before omega
23rd in a series
Pitchfork-shaped letter
Letter after chi
___ particle
23rd of 24 letters
Greek letter spelled out at the start of a Beatles title?
Last Greek consonant
Fraternity letter
Kind of particle
Next-to-last Greek letter
College sweater letter
Trident-shaped letter
Electric flux symbol
The Beatles' "PSI Love You"
Letter from Greece

OMEGA

Scrabble Facts...

Anagrams - None
Hooks - OMEGAS

Crossword Clues...

"Phi, chi, psi" follower
Zee:English::___:Greek
Last of a series
Alphabet ender
Literally, "great O"
Sorority chapter
The end, to Euripides
Alpha's opposite
Corinthian conclusion
#24 of 24
Horseshoe-shaped symbol
Ohm's symbol
The end, in Revelation
Resistance figure
Physics particle
The end for Socrates

Notes...

1. As usual, I only include clues that are reasonably closely tied to the topic at hand (the Greek alphabet in this case).

For example, I include the crossword clue "___ particle" (Answer: ALPHA), because this clue reflects the general practice of using letters in the Greek alphabet to name scientific entities. However, I don't include the clue "Letters on tires" (Answer: "PSI"), because PSI refers here to an acronym for "Pounds per Square Inch", rather than to the Greek letter of the same spelling.

2. Because crosswords generally exclude words less than three letters long, I haven't listed any clues for the Greek alphabet letters...

  • MU
  • NU
  • XI
  • PI

3. The letters in the Greek alphabet that are usually designated as vowels are...

  • ALPHA
  • EPSILON
  • ETA
  • IOTA
  • OMICRON
  • UPSILON

4. Did I say all letters in the Greek alphabet? Not quite...

Here are a handful of obsolete Greek letters you might stumble across from time to time (although they only very rarely appear in crosswords)...

  • DIGAMMA
  • SAN
  • QOPPA
  • SAMPI




Return to Word Lists from The Greek Alphabet

Return to Word Games Home from The Greek Alphabet

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.