|Use in other languages|
Upsilon (/ ( ) -, - /,, UK also /( -, - /) ,; uppercase Υ, lowercase υ; Greek: ύψιλον ýpsilon [ˈipsilon]) or ypsilon /-/ is the 20th letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals, Υʹ has a value of 400. It is derived from the Phoenician waw
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 'simple u' to distinguish it from οι, which had come to have the same [y] pronunciation.
In early Attic Greek (6th century BCE), it was pronounced [u] (a close back rounded vowel like the English "long o͞o"). In Classical Greek, it was pronounced [y] (a close front rounded vowel), at least until 1030. In Modern Greek, it is pronounced [i]; in the digraphs αυ and ευ, as [f] or [v]; and in the digraph ου as [u]. In ancient Greek, it occurred in both long and short versions, but Modern Greek does not have a length distinction.
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.
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 mostly by uneducated people. 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: and U , Y and, much later, V and W. In the Cyrillic script, the letters U (У, у) and izhitsa (Ѵ, ѵ) arose from it.
In some languages, including German and Portuguese, the name upsilon (Ypsilon in German, ípsilon in Portuguese) is used to refer to the Latin letter Y as well as the Greek letter. In some other languages, the (Latin) Y is referred to as a "Greek I" (i griega in Spanish, i grec in French), also noting its Greek origin.
Upsilon is known as Pythagoras' letter, or the Samian letter, because Pythagoras used it as an emblem of the path of virtue or vice. 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.
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.
|Unicode name||GREEK CAPITAL LETTER UPSILON||GREEK SMALL LETTER UPSILON||GREEK UPSILON WITH HOOK SYMBOL|
|UTF-8||206 165||CE A5||207 133||CF 85||207 146||CF 92|
|Numeric character reference||Υ
|Named character reference||Υ||υ, υ||ϒ, ϒ|
|Unicode name||COPTIC CAPITAL LETTER UA||COPTIC SMALL LETTER UA|
|UTF-8||226 178 168||E2 B2 A8||226 178 169||E2 B2 A9|
|Numeric character reference||Ⲩ
|Unicode name||LATIN CAPITAL LETTER UPSILON||LATIN SMALL LETTER UPSILON||MODIFIER LETTER SMALL UPSILON||LATIN SMALL LETTER UPSILON WITH STROKE|
|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
|Unicode name||MATHEMATICAL BOLD
|MATHEMATICAL BOLD ITALIC
|MATHEMATICAL BOLD ITALIC|
|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
|Unicode name||MATHEMATICAL SANS-SERIF
BOLD CAPITAL UPSILON
BOLD SMALL UPSILON
BOLD ITALIC CAPITAL UPSILON
BOLD ITALIC SMALL UPSILON
|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
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.