The Full Wiki

Digamma: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Digamma 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
Obsolete letters
Ϝϝ Digamma Ϙϙ Qoppa
Ϻϻ San Ϡϡ Sampi
Other characters
Ϛϛ Stigma Ϸϸ Sho
Ͱͱ Heta

Greek diacritics

Digamma (uppercase Ϝ, lowercase ϝ) is an archaic letter of the Greek alphabet, used primarily as a Greek numeral.

The letter had the phonetic value of a voiced labial-velar approximant /w/. It was originally called ϝαῦ wau.[1] It was later called the "elusive" δίγαμμα (digamma — "double gamma") because of its shape. It is attested in archaic and dialectal ancient Greek inscriptions, and is occasionally used as a symbol in later Greek mathematical texts.

Digamma, like Upsilon, derives from the Phoenician letter Waw, and in its turn gave rise to the Roman letter F.



It is also used as the Greek numeral 6. In ancient usage, the numeral had the same form as the letter digamma. However, in medieval and modern usage, the numeral has normally been written in the graphic form of a stigma (Ϛ, ϛ), which historically is completely distinct from digamma; it is a medieval ligature of sigma and tau. To add to the confusion, in modern times, the sequence στ or ΣΤ is sometimes used instead of the stigma symbol.

The sound /w/ in Greek

The letter digamma as it appears in four fonts.

Mycenaean Greek

The sound /w/ existed in Mycenean Greek, as attested in Linear B and archaic Greek inscriptions using digamma. It is also confirmed by the Hittite name of Troy, Wilusa, corresponding to the Greek name *Wilion.

Classical Greek

The sound was lost at various times in various dialects, mostly before the classical period.

In Ionic, [w] had probably disappeared before Homer's epics were written down (7th century BC), but its former presence can be detected in many cases because its omission left the meter defective. For example, the words ἄναξ (king), found in the Iliad, which would originally have been ϝάναξ [wanaks], and οἶνος (wine) are sometimes used in the meter where a word starting with a consonant would be expected. Further evidence coupled with cognate-analysis shows that οἶνος was earlier ϝοῖνος [woinos][2] (cf. Cretan Doric ibêna, cf. Latin vīnum and English "wine"). For some time, word-initial /w-/ remained foreign to Greek phonology, and was dropped in loanwords, compare the name of Italy (Italia from Oscan Viteliu *Ϝιτελιυ) or of the Veneti (Greek Ἐνετοί - Enetoi). By the 2nd century BC, the phoneme was once again registered, compare for example the spelling of Οὐάτεις for vates.

"Pamphylian digamma"

In some local (epichoric) alphabets, a variant glyph of the letter digamma existed that resembled modern Cyrillic И. In one local alphabet, that of Pamphylia, this variant form existed side by side with standard digamma as two distinct letters. It has been surmised that in this dialect the sound /w/ may have changed to labiodental [v] in some environments. The F-shaped letter may have stood for the new [v] sound, while the special И-shaped form signified those positions where the old [w] sound was preserved.[3]

Modern Greek

The digamma survives even today as /v/ in the Modern Greek Tsakonian dialect, the only dialect not descended from ancient Koine Greek, the famous, and only, example being βάννε /'vannε/ ("lamb" for standard Greek αρνί) (cf. Cretan ϝαρήν).

The city of Oitylo used to be called Vitulo earlier, until the Classical Attic-Ionic form, Οίτυλο /'itilo/, was introduced.[1] The diphthong - which is attested in the Iliad already (2.285) - is probably due to an early attempt to render the foreign sound: [oi] = [wi].

Unicode representation

In Unicode digamma has code uppercase U+03DC Ϝ, lowercase U+03DD ϝ [4].

In July 2006, another pair of the uppercase and lowercase digamma with bold typeface, were added to the Unicode standard version 5.0 and have codes U+1D7CA and U+1D7CB. Their intended use is as mathematical symbols, not regular text.

The И-shaped "Pamphylian digamma" was additionally encoded as U+0376 (uppercase) and U+0377 (lowercase) in Unicode version 5.1.


  1. ^ Cf. Grammatici Latini (ed. Keil), 7.148.
  2. ^ LSJ, οἶνος: Ϝοῖνος Leg.Gort. col X.39
  3. ^ Nick Nicolas: Proposal to add Greek epigraphical letters to the UCS. Technical report, Unicode Consortium, 2005. Citing C. Brixhe, Le dialecte grec de Pamphylie. Documents et grammaire. Paris: Maisonneuve, 1976.
  4. ^ Unicode Character 'GREEK LETTER DIGAMMA' (U+03DC)


  • Peter T. Daniels - William Bright (edd.), The World's Writing Systems, New York, Oxford University Press, 1996. ISBN 0195079930
  • Jean Humbert, Histoire de la langue grecque, Paris, 1972.
  • Michel Lejeune, Phonétique historique du mycénien et du grec ancien, Klincksieck, Paris, 1967. ISBN 2252034963
  • "In Search of The Trojan War", pp.142-143,187 by Michael Wood, 1985, published by BBC.

External links

The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek digamma (Ϝ, whose name in Greek was probably Ϝαυ) and upsilon (Υ), Etruscan v ( visually a backwards F ) and Latin F, V, and Y; V later developed into U and W.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also digamma


German Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia de


Digamma n.

  1. digamma

Simple English

Common letters
ΑaA ΜmEm
ΒbBe ΝnEn
GgGe ΟοO
ΔdDe ΠpPe
hHa ЖжZhe
ΕɛE RrAr
ΖzZe SsEs
ΗeEe ΤtTe
ΘөEth UuU
ΙiI FfEf
JjJe WwWa
ΚkKa ΧxXa
LlEl ОWоwWe
Uncommon letters
Digamma Qoppa
San Sampi
Other letters
Stigma Sho

Greek alphabet

Digamma or Wau (uppercase/lowercase Ϝ ϝ) was an old letter of the Greek alphabet. It was used before the alphabet got its classical standard form. It looked like a Latin "F", but it was pronounced like "w". In the 5th century BC people stopped using it, because they could no longer pronounce the sound "w" in Greek. However, they kept it as a sign for the number "6" in the system of Greek numerals. It was originally called "Wau" because of its sound, but later, when the sound was lost, it was called "Digamma", which means "double Gamma", because it looks like a Gamma (Γ) with two hooks. The Latin letter F was also taken over from Wau.

Other websites


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address