Letters in Greek alphabet are ordered similarly to those in Latin, but not exactly the same. Is there any reason for the differences? I ask the question for finding a way to understand and therefore memorize the order based on Latin alphabet.

2 Answers 2


Phoenician abjad -> Greek alphabets -> Old Italic scripts (including Etruscan alphabet) -> Latin alphabet

There were many versions of Greek alphabet. Italic scripts were based on Western Greek alphabet, while later standardized (by Eucleides) classical Greek alphabet was based on Eastern variant of Greek alphabet.

Besides differences in spelling, there were also many phonological differences between Greek dialects. (You might also read Ancient Greek phonology.)

E.g. When Zeta letter (Ζ, ζ) was originally invented, it probably meant [d͡z] affricate, which later changed to [zd] 2-consonants cluster in some dialects.

  • Thanks. Is there any way to memorize the order in Greek alphabet, based on that for Latin and transliteration?
    – Tim
    Jun 22 at 6:36
  • 1
    Just memorize them. It is not too many characters. Japanese children have to learn about 3000 kanji in school :) .
    – Arfrever
    Jun 22 at 21:44
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    @Arfrever They don’t have to memorise them in any particular order, though – only the kanas. Jun 23 at 3:37

For the most part, the ordering is the same, inherited from Phoenician. But some letters are used for different purposes in the different alphabets due to different transmission routes (eta vs H, gamma vs C), and others have been lost in one or the other (Greek lost F, Latin lost zeta).

Both of them also introduced new letters over time, and put them at the end: Latin borrowed Y and Z from Greek, for example, while Greek invented psi and omega.

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