Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Greek)

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This page documents naming conventions on both Ancient and Modern varieties of Greek.

Ancient Greek[edit]

The most common English form of an Ancient Greek name or term may fall into any of three groups:

  1. Latinization. This is the traditional English way of representing most Greek names in English and is well-represented in the naming of Wikipedia articles: Jesus and Uranus (not Iēsoûs or Ouranós), Alexander and Byzantium (not Aléxandros or Byzántion), Plato and Apollo (not Plátōn or Apóllōn), Socrates and Achilles (not Sōkratēs or Achilleús).
  2. Further Anglicization. Many traditional English forms are neither Greek nor Latin: Greece and Egypt (not Graecia or Aigyptos), Troy and Athens (not Troia or Athenai), Homer and Hesiod (not Homerus or Hesiodos), Aristotle and Constantinople (not Aristoteles or Konstantinoupolis). Adjectives—including the language and ethnic names derived from them—and common nouns are typically Anglicized: Athenian democracy, demotic Greek, the Celts, Platonic dialogues, Aristoteleanism.
  3. Closer transliteration from the Greek. From the 19th century, there has been an increasing tendency to transliterate names more directly. While "Herodotos" is still less common than Herodotus, scholarly sources may prefer Tyrannion, Pamphile, or Arignote in their Greek forms. This style is especially common with technical terms relating to Greece: agon, epinikion, strategos. [Note that such terms, if not yet common in English, may require the magic word DISPLAYTITLE to italicize them.]

Tagging with the lang template[edit]

Articles on people, places, and technical terms from ancient Greece should provide the Greek form of their name in the lead sentence. The Greek text should not be italicized or bolded. The language code for Ancient Greek is "grc." Generally speaking, the first appearance of Ancient Greek text in an article should be wrapped with the template {{lang-grc}}, which provides a link to the article on Ancient Greek:

{{lang-grc|Φίλιππος Βʹ ὁ Μακεδών}}, ''Phílippos II ho Makedṓn''
Ancient Greek: Φίλιππος Βʹ ὁ Μακεδών, Phílippos II ho Makedṓn

Subsequent appearances of Ancient Greek text should be wrapped with the {{lang}} template:

''phílos'' ({{lang|grc|φίλος}})
phílos (φίλος)

For situations where "Ancient Greek" may seem misleading (e.g., late antiquity or in cases where the modern Greek form is unchanged), the template {{lang-grc-gre}} may be used. This wraps the text itself as Ancient Greek but provides a link to the main article on the Greek language:

{{lang-grc-gre|Σωκράτης}}, ''Sōkrátēs''
Greek: Σωκράτης, Sōkrátēs

All appearances of Greek text must be given a romanization, rendering its content in Latin letters. This romanization should be italicized and may optionally be tagged with the language code "grc-Latn":

{{lang-grc|Ὅμηρος}}, ''{{lang|grc-Latn|Hómēros}}''
Ancient Greek: Ὅμηρος, Hómēros

Pronunciation help[edit]

Pronunciation details for the Ancient Greek should only be given in special cases. Pronunciation hints for the anglicized Greek name can be where the English pronunciation is less than straightforward or ambiguous, note for example Scythians:

The Scythians or Scyths [footnote: Scythians is pronounced /'sɪθɪən/ or /'sɪðɪən/. Scyths is pronounced /'sɪθs/); from Greek Σκύθης Skúthēs; note Scytho- /'saɪθəʊ/ in composition (OED).]


See Romanization of Greek for details on the transliteration of the Greek alphabet. Note that ISO 843 is intended for Modern Greek and not necessarily suitable for Ancient Greek. Ancient Greek is usually transliterated as follows:

Greek English
α a
β b
γ g, n before γ, κ, ξ, χ
δ d
ε e
ζ z
η ē
θ th
ι i
κ k
λ l
μ m
ν n
ξ x
ο o
π p
ρ r, rh for word-initial ῥ
σ s
τ t
υ u or y
φ ph
χ ch
ψ ps
ω ō
spiritus asper h

Common Latinizations[edit]

There are certain rules for Latinized spellings used in English. These rules are outlined below. But note that actual English usage trumps any of these rules (e.g. "Athens", not *"Athenae" for Ἀθῆναι Athēnai).

Compared to the close transliteration discussed above, quantity is not indicated, that is, ω and ο both become o; ε and η both become e. υ and κ are mostly rendered as y and c, respectively.

Vowel clusters[edit]

Greek English
αι ae
ει normally i, but usage can vary: Iphigenia, Irene, Heraclitus, but often Cleitus, almost always Deimos.
οι oe
αυ au
ευ eu
ηυ eu
ου u

Other vowel clusters are unaffected (e.g. Thyestes for Θυεστής). Any vowel with a diaeresis in Greek can be given a diaeresis in English.

Equivalence changes[edit]

Endings are normally changed to the equivalent Latin forms. Conventional names often ignore regular endings, so Plutarch, for 'Plutarchus', Homer for Homerus; Herod for the Kings of Judea, but Herodes Atticus.

These deal only with nominative forms unless indicated.

Greek English
-η (feminine) usually -e; but Jocasta.
-η (neuter) -e
-αι -ae
-ος -us (usually; use -os for feminines, like Lemnos)
-ρος -er (after consonants, like Lysander; but Satyrus)
-οι -i
-ων -o (usually)
-ων (genitive plural) -on

Modern (Demotic) Greek[edit]


Again, transliteration needs to be distinguished from anglicization. If there is a common anglicization of a Greek proper name, it should be used in an English language context. A transliteration of the actual Greek can be given in ISO 843.

Otherwise, they follow the standard rules as follows, except when a different name is commonly used in English (e.g. "Athens", "Crete", "Corfu"). This transliteration system equals the one used by the United Nations.[1]

Greek English
α a
β v
γ g
δ d
ε e
ζ z
η i
θ th
ι i
κ k
λ l
μ m
ν n
ξ x
ο o
π p
ρ r
σ s
τ t
υ y
φ f
χ ch
ψ ps
ω o

Vowel clusters[edit]

Note: an accent on the first vowel, or a diaeresis on the second vowel, indicates that the two vowels are pronounced separately. Examples: Οινόη, Χαϊδάρι.

Greek English Notes
αι ai
ει ei
οι oi
αυ av af before θ, κ, ξ, π, σ, τ, φ, χ, ψ, and final
ευ ev ef before θ, κ, ξ, π, σ, τ, φ, χ, ψ, and final
ηυ iv if before θ, κ, ξ, π, σ, τ, φ, χ, ψ, and final
ου ou
αη ai
ωη oi

Consonant clusters[edit]

Greek English
γγ ng
γκ g (at beginning), ng (in middle)
γξ nx
γχ nch
μπ b (at beginning), mp or mb (in middle)
ντ d (at beginning), nt or nd (in middle)


Modern Greek uses two diacritics: the acute accent (indicating stress) and the diaeresis (indicating that two consecutive vowels should not be combined). These are kept in all formal transliteration systems but the accent marks are frequently omitted in practice. No diacritics should be used in Wikipedia article titles.

Words occurring in both Modern and Ancient Greek[edit]

This is particularly relevant to place names. The page Wikipedia:Naming conventions (geographic names) should be consulted first.

If the article concerns a concept that is significant in the Hellenistic period or before (i.e. would merit its own article even if the modern concept did not), use the archaic spelling. If the article concerns a modern concept merely derived from an ancient word, use the modern version. If a modern word's meaning has no overlap with the ancient word from which it derives, create two articles, but consider including a disambiguation message at the top of each page.