I am reading technical papers which contain many letters from the Greek alphabet. I'm not sure how to pronounce them and having a hard time looking it up. What is the standard French pronunciation of the Greek alphabet?


2 Answers 2


Most are pronounced "like they are written", i.e. using the French default usage. The ê can be pronounced either /e/ or /ɛ/.

Thêta is pronounced /tɛta/ or /teta/, phi and khi are pronounced /fi/ and /ki/.

Only zêta, epsilon and upsilon might be pronounced partially or totally as foreign words, z is often realized as /dz/, "-on" is almost never the nasalisation /ɔ̃/ and u is often pronounced /œ/: /d͡zɛta/ or /zɛta/, /ɛpsilon/ & /œpsilon/ or /ypsilon/.

Lambda is generally pronounced /lãbda/ in France but the alternative /lam(b)da/ can also be heard, depending on the region.

Psi is not special but simply pronounced like the beginning of psychologue.

Note that omicron is always pronounced the French way, with a nasalisation: /omikrɔ̃/, likely because micron is already a French world.

  • 1
    I also would say that « zêta » is pronounced like « tzêta » or « dzêta ».
    – Maël
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 9:23
  • @grouah Yes, I forgot that one. Thanks.
    – jlliagre
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 10:57
  • 3
    I'm not doubting the pronunciation of upsilon with /œ/, but I've always used it with /y/ and that's what indicated in the TLFi too. Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 15:38
  • 1
    I'd add lambda too, which can be /lãbda/ or /lam(b)da/ depending on dialect Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 15:47
  • @Eauquidort Added, thx.
    – jlliagre
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 20:02

alphabet grec.

  1.  Α   α   alpha   
  2.  Β   β   bêta    
  3.  Γ   γ   gamma   
  4.  Δ   δ   delta   
  5.  Ε   ε   epsilon 
  6.  Ζ   ζ   zêta    
  7.  Η   η   êta     
  8.  Θ   θ   thêta   
  9.  Ι   ι   iota    
  10. Κ   κ   kappa   
  11. Λ   λ   lambda  
  12. Μ   μ   mu
  13. Ν   ν   nu
  14. Ξ   ξ   ksi/xi  
  15. Ο   ο   omicron 
  16. Π   π   pi
  17. Ρ   ρ   rhô     
  18. Σ   σ   sigma   
  19. Τ   τ   tau     
  20. Υ   υ   upsilon
  21. Φ   φ/ϕ phi     
  22. Χ   χ   khi/chi 
  23. Ψ   ψ   psi     
  24. Ω   ω   oméga   
  • 3
    I have never heard the mi and ni variants, and rarely the chi one.
    – jlliagre
    Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 12:49
  • @jlliagre: Copy/paste error, those are modern greek pronounciation, they come from wikipedia
    – Toto
    Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 14:21
  • 1
    I have no idea how to pronounce many of these such as "psi". There is not an applicable standard French spelling rule that I am aware of. So this answer really just restates the problem for me without answering it. Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 19:43
  • 1
    @BetterSense Psi would just be read /psi/, much as like pseudo is /psødɔ/ or /psødo/ psoriasis is /psɔrjazis/ and psy is /psi/. Ancient Greek's complex onsets reamin complex in French, so ptérosaure starts with /pt/, gnostique with /gn/, chtonien with /kt/, xylophone with /gz/ and so on. Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 15:46

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