Upsilon (uppercase Υ, lowercase υ; _el. Ύψιλον) 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.

In early Greek it was pronounced like English "oo," IPA2|u . In Classical Greek, it was pronounced like French "u" or German "ü", IPA2|y — a sound that is not found in most dialects of English. In Modern Greek it is pronounced like continental "i" or English "ee", IPA2|i, and in diphthongs, IPA| [f] or IPA| [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 which 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] .

The Roman Emperor Claudius proposed introducing a new letter into the Latin alphabet to approximate the sound of upsilon, but in due course the letter Y was adopted instead.

The name of the letter was originally just υ ("y"; also called "hy", hence "hyoid", meaning "y-shaped"). It changed to υ ψιλόν, ("u psilon", meaning 'simple u') to distinguish it from οι, which had come to have the same IPA| [y] pronunciation. [See W. Sidney Allen, "Vox Graeca", 3rd ed., Cambridge 1987, p. 69.] The name of the letter in modern Greek is pronounced IPA|/iː'psɪlɒn/ (in contrast to the letter Ε, which is pronounced IPA|/ɛ'psɪlɒn/). It is also rarely called "ypsilon" (IPA|/ɪ'psɪlɒn/) in English because of its resemblance to the Roman letter Y.

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


*In particle physics the capital Greek letter Υ denotes an Upsilon particle. Note that the symbol should always look like ϒ in order to avoid confusion with a Latin Y denoting the hypercharge.
*Automobile manufacturer Lancia has a model called the Ypsilon. See Lancia Ypsilon.


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  • upsilon — [ ypsilɔn ] n. m. • 1872; gr. u psilon « u mince » ♦ Vingtième lettre de l alphabet grec (υ). ● upsilon nom masculin (grec u psilon, u simple) Vingtième lettre de l alphabet grec (Υ, υ). [Il est transcrit y dans les mots empruntés au grec :… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Upsilon — Up si*lon, n. [Gr. y^ psilo n bare, mere, simple y.] The 20th letter ([Upsilon], [upsilon]) of the Greek alphabet, a vowel having originally the sound of [=oo] as in room, becoming before the 4th century b. c. that French u or Ger. [ u]. Its… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • upsilon — 20th letter of the Greek alphabet, 1640s, from Gk. u psilon, lit. a mere (or bare) u; so called in contradistinction to the diphthongs oi , ei , which are pronounced exactly like upsilon …   Etymology dictionary

  • úpsilon — s. m. Ver ípsilo. • [Brasil] Plural: upsílones ou úpsilons. • [Portugal] Plural: upsílones …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • upsilon — ► NOUN ▪ the twentieth letter of the Greek alphabet (Y, u), transliterated as ‘u’ or (chiefly in English words derived through Latin) as ‘y’. ORIGIN Greek, slender U …   English terms dictionary

  • upsilon — [o͞op′sə län΄, up′sə län΄] n. [LGr y psilon, lit., simple u (to distinguish from oi, of the same sound in LGr)] 1. the twentieth letter of the Greek alphabet (Y, υ) ☆ 2. any of a group of short lived elementary particles having a mass about ten… …   English World dictionary

  • Upsilon —  Ne doit pas être confondu avec Ʊ. Upsilon Graphies Capitale …   Wikipédia en Français

  • upsilon — /yoohp seuh lon , leuhn, up /; esp. Brit. /yoohp suy leuhn/, n. 1. the 20th letter of the Greek alphabet (Y). 2. the vowel sound represented by this letter. 3. Also called upsilon particle, Physics. any of a family of heavy, short lived, neutral… …   Universalium

  • upsilon — [ʌp sʌɪlən, ju:p , ʊpsɪlɒn, ju:p ] noun the twentieth letter of the Greek alphabet (Υ, υ), transliterated as ‘u’ or (chiefly in English words derived through Latin) as ‘y’. Origin Gk, lit. slender U , from psilos slender , referring to the need… …   English new terms dictionary

  • Upsilon (disambiguation) — Upsilon or Ypsilon is a Greek letter.May refer to:*Lancia Ypsilon *Ypsilon (Scheme implementation) *Upsilon Acrux *Upsilon Andromedae, a solar system *Upsilon Aquarii *Upsilon Aquilae *Upsilon Aurigae *Upsilon Boötis *Upsilon Cancri *Upsilon… …   Wikipedia

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