Upsilon

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Upsilon uc lc.svg
Greek alphabet
Αα Alpha Νν Nu
Ββ Beta Ξξ Xi
Γγ Gamma Οο Omicron
Δδ Delta Ππ Pi
Εε Epsilon Ρρ Rho
Ζζ Zeta Σσς Sigma
Ηη Eta Ττ Tau
Θθ Theta Υυ Upsilon
Ιι Iota Φφ Phi
Κκ Kappa Χχ Chi
Λλ Lambda Ψψ Psi
Μμ Mu Ωω Omega
History
Archaic local variants
  • Digamma
  • Heta
  • San
  • Koppa
  • Sampi
  • Tsan
Numerals
ϛ (6)
ϟ (90)
ϡ (900)
In other languages
Scientific symbols

Upsilon (uppercase Υ, lowercase υ; Greek: Ύψιλον, Úpsilon) 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 Phoenician waw.svg. The name of the letter is pronounced [ˈipsilon] in Modern Greek, and in English /ˈʌpsɨlɒn/, UK /juːpˈslən/ yewp-SY-lən, or US /ˈjuːpsɨlɒn/ YEWP-sə-lon. It is occasionally called "ypsilon" (/ˈɪpsɨlɒn/) in English after its rendering in Latin, where the Greek upsilon corresponded with the letter Y.

The Greek alphabet on a black figure vessel, with a V-shaped upsilon.

Etymology

The name of the letter was originally just “υ” (y; also called hy, hence "hyoid", meaning "shaped like the letter υ"), but the name changed to “υ ψιλόν”, (u psilon, meaning 'simple u') to distinguish it from οι, which had come to have the same [y] pronunciation.[1]

Pronunciation

In early Greek it was pronounced like English oo [u]. In Classical Greek, it was pronounced like French u or German ü, i. e., [y] (a sound that is not found in most dialects of English). This was the case at least until the year 1030AD.[2] In Modern Greek it is pronounced like continental i or English ee, [i], and in diphthongs, [f] or [v]. In ancient Greek, it occurred in both long and short versions, but this distinction has been lost in Modern Greek.

As an initial letter in Classical Greek it always carried the rough breathing (equivalent to h) as reflected in the many Greek-derived English words, such as those that begin with hyper- and hypo-. This rough breathing was derived from an older pronunciation that used a sibilant instead; this sibilant was not lost in Latin, giving rise to such cognates as super- (for hyper-) and sub- (for hypo-).

Upsilon participated as the second element in falling diphthongs, which have subsequently developed in various ways: For instance, after alpha or epsilon it is pronounced [f] or [v].

Correspondence with Latin Y

The usage of Y in Latin dates back to the first century BC. It was used to transcribe loanwords from Greek, so it was not a native sound of Latin and was usually pronounced /u/ or /i/. The latter pronunciation was the most common in the Classical period and was used by most people except the educated ones. The Roman Emperor Claudius proposed introducing a new letter into the Latin alphabet to transcribe the so-called sonus medius (a short vowel before labial consonants), but in inscriptions, the new letter was sometimes used for Greek upsilon instead.

Four letters of the Latin alphabet arose from it: V and Y and, much later, U and W. In the Cyrillic script, the letters U (У, у) and Izhitsa (Ѵ, ѵ) arose from it.

In some languages (most notably German), the name upsilon (Ypsilon in German, ípsilon in Portuguese) is used to refer to the Latin letter Y as well as the Greek letter.

Usage

Symbolism

Geoffroy Tory Ypsilon

Upsilon is known as Pythagoras' letter, or the Samian letter, because Pythagoras used it as an emblem of the path of virtue or vice.[4] As the Roman writer Persius wrote in Satire III:

"and the letter which spreads out into Pythagorean branches has pointed out to you the steep path which rises on the right."[5]

Lactantius, an early Christian author (ca. 240 – ca. 320), refers to this:

"For they say that the course of human life resembles the letter Y, because every one of men, when he has reached the threshold of early youth, and has arrived at the place "where the way divides itself into two parts," is in doubt, and hesitates, and does not know to which side he should rather turn himself."[6]

Character Encodings

  • Greek Upsilon
Character Υ υ ϒ
Unicode name GREEK CAPITAL LETTER UPSILON GREEK SMALL LETTER UPSILON GREEK UPSILON WITH HOOK SYMBOL
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 933 U+03A5 965 U+03C5 978 U+03D2
UTF-8 206 165 CE A5 207 133 CF 85 207 146 CF 92
Numeric character reference Υ Υ υ υ ϒ ϒ
Named character reference Υ υ ϒ
DOS Greek 148 94 172 AC
DOS Greek-2 209 D1 239 EF
Windows 1253 213 D5 245 F5
TeX \Upsilon \upsilon

[7]

  • Coptic Ua
Character
Unicode name COPTIC CAPITAL LETTER UA COPTIC SMALL LETTER UA
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 11432 U+2CA8 11433 U+2CA9
UTF-8 226 178 168 E2 B2 A8 226 178 169 E2 B2 A9
Numeric character reference Ⲩ Ⲩ ⲩ ⲩ
  • Latin Upsilon
Character Ʊ ʊ ᵿ
Unicode name LATIN CAPITAL LETTER UPSILON LATIN SMALL LETTER UPSILON MODIFIER LETTER SMALL UPSILON LATIN SMALL LETTER UPSILON WITH STROKE
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 433 U+01B1 650 U+028A 7607 U+1DB7 7551 U+1D7F
UTF-8 198 177 C6 B1 202 138 CA 8A 225 182 183 E1 B6 B7 225 181 191 E1 B5 BF
Numeric character reference Ʊ Ʊ ʊ ʊ ᶷ ᶷ ᵿ ᵿ
  • Mathematical Upsilon
Character 𝚼 𝛖 𝛶 𝜐 𝜰 𝝊
Unicode name MATHEMATICAL BOLD
CAPITAL UPSILON
MATHEMATICAL BOLD
SMALL UPSILON
MATHEMATICAL ITALIC
CAPITAL UPSILON
MATHEMATICAL ITALIC
SMALL UPSILON
MATHEMATICAL BOLD ITALIC
CAPITAL UPSILON
MATHEMATICAL BOLD ITALIC
SMALL UPSILON
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 120508 U+1D6BC 120534 U+1D6D6 120566 U+1D6F6 120592 U+1D710 120624 U+1D730 120650 U+1D74A
UTF-8 240 157 154 188 F0 9D 9A BC 240 157 155 150 F0 9D 9B 96 240 157 155 182 F0 9D 9B B6 240 157 156 144 F0 9D 9C 90 240 157 156 176 F0 9D 9C B0 240 157 157 138 F0 9D 9D 8A
UTF-16 55349 57020 D835 DEBC 55349 57046 D835 DED6 55349 57078 D835 DEF6 55349 57104 D835 DF10 55349 57136 D835 DF30 55349 57162 D835 DF4A
Numeric character reference 𝚼 𝚼 𝛖 𝛖 𝛶 𝛶 𝜐 𝜐 𝜰 𝜰 𝝊 𝝊
Character 𝝪 𝞄 𝞤 𝞾
Unicode name MATHEMATICAL SANS-SERIF
BOLD CAPITAL UPSILON
MATHEMATICAL SANS-SERIF
BOLD SMALL UPSILON
MATHEMATICAL SANS-SERIF
BOLD ITALIC CAPITAL UPSILON
MATHEMATICAL SANS-SERIF
BOLD ITALIC SMALL UPSILON
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 120682 U+1D76A 120708 U+1D784 120740 U+1D7A4 120766 U+1D7BE
UTF-8 240 157 157 170 F0 9D 9D AA 240 157 158 132 F0 9D 9E 84 240 157 158 164 F0 9D 9E A4 240 157 158 190 F0 9D 9E BE
UTF-16 55349 57194 D835 DF6A 55349 57220 D835 DF84 55349 57252 D835 DFA4 55349 57278 D835 DFBE
Numeric character reference 𝝪 𝝪 𝞄 𝞄 𝞤 𝞤 𝞾 𝞾

These characters are used only as mathematical symbols. Stylized Greek text should be encoded using the normal Greek letters, with markup and formatting to indicate text style.

Notes

  1. ^ See W. Sidney Allen, Vox Graeca, 3rd ed., Cambridge 1987, p. 69.
  2. ^ F. Lauritzen, Michael the Grammarian's irony about Hypsilon. A step towards reconstructing Byzantine pronunciation. Byzantinoslavica, 67 (2009)
  3. ^ Mihalas and McRae (1968), Galactic Astronomy (W. H. Freeman)
  4. ^ Brewer, Ebenezer Cobham. The reader's handbook of famous names in fiction, allusions, references, proverbs, plots, stories, and poems, Vol. 2, p. 956. Lippincott, 1899.
  5. ^ Satires. 
  6. ^ The Divine Institutes. pp. Book VI Chapter III. 
  7. ^ Unicode Code Charts: Greek and Coptic (Range: 0370-03FF)

External links