The Ancient Greeks developed an alphabet for writing. Their common language and writing was one of the things that bound the Greeks together. The Greek alphabet is still used today. It is even used in the United States where Greek letters are popular as mathematical symbols and are used in college fraternities and sororities.
The Greeks learned about writing and the alphabet from the Phoenicians. They took much of their alphabet from the Phoenician alphabet, but they added a few new letters. They also assigned some of the letters to vowel sounds. The Greek alphabet was the first alphabet to use vowels.
There are 24 letters in the Greek alphabet.
How to pronounce the Greek alphabet?
In parenthesis below is a description of how to pronounce each letter.
Greek letters were also used for writing Greek numerals. The first nine letters (from alpha to theta) were used for the numbers 1 to 9. The next nine letters (from iota to koppa) were used for multiples of 10 from 10 to 90. Finally, the next nine letters (from rho to sampi) were used for 100 to 900. For example, the numbers 1, 2, and 3 are alpha, beta, and gamma.
Wait a minute you say! That's 27 letters, not 24. Plus, some of those letters I don't recognize from your list above. Well, they also added three letters for numbers. They were digamma for the number 6, koppa for the number 90, and sampi for the number 900.
Greek Letters in Science and Math
A lot of Greek letters are used in science and math. They are usually used for constants, variables, and functions. Some examples include:
Δ Delta - a difference or change in quantity
π Pi - the constant 3.14159… used in calculating the circumference and volume of a circle
λ Lambda - represents the wavelength of light in physics