So you've got to come up with a name for something. Maybe a planet, a group or a form of radiation. You can't just call the planet B4-EF, name the group "one" or say Green radiation. No, you've got to come up with something that sounds good but also makes you sound pretty smart.
Well it worked for Attack Pattern Alpha
: why can't I just call the planet Alpha Centauri, name the group Beta, and refer to Gamma Radiation?
Common Greek letters to be used are Αα Alpha, Ββ Beta, Γγ Gamma, Δδ Delta, Εε Epsilon, Ζζ Zeta and Ωω Omega. Other Greek letters like Ππ Pi or Χχ Chi will rarely get used because it would confuse viewers, while letters like Ηη Eta or Κκ Kappa would rarely get used for risk of the viewer not understanding
the connection and think maybe they're referring to the mountain?
Or the other mountain
? Or perhaps the Composer?
Or even a river imp that likes cucumbers
More rarely, actual Greek quotations may appear. Names drawn from Classical Mythology
are rather more common, as are biblical/philosophical words such as "logos", "theos" and "agape", as well as Gnostic terms like "sophia" and "archon" in the more postmodernist
This is a very old trope
; some Roman authors had a habit of inserting Greek quotations into their works, and Latin acquired influences from Greek. At the time, Greece was seen as the source of culture, philosophy, science and learning in general, hence why science, mathematics, philosophynote
and such matters of academia have an addiction to do this, reinforcing the association on how Smart People Know Greek
and how everything in Greek sounds like futuristic Techno Babble
. Also, the Greek language was pretty much the lingua franca
for the eastern half of the Empire. This endured until the Renaissance. A part of why Rome is confused with Greece
Also see Altum Videtur
and Xtreme Kool Letterz
. Often part of a Mad Lib Thriller Title
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Ιαπωνικα κινουμενα σχεδια (Anime)
- Gundam loves this trope; examples include the Zeta, Double Zeta, and Nu Gundams, not to mention the Alpha Azieru and Delta Plus. Sidestories add in more, like the Xi Gundam.
- The most powerful spells - including one literally named "Kosmike Katastrophe" (Κοσμική Καταστροφή) - in Mahou Sensei Negima! all have incantations in High Ancient, the series' term for Ancient Greek. The Omake features entire pages listing out incantations written in Greek and explaining the terminology (and occasionally, the physics behind the magic). Not for nothing does Ken Akamatsu take frequent research breaks.
- Lambdadelta from Umineko no Naku Koro ni. While her name in the VN is usually written as "Lambdadelta", she herself writes "ΛΔ". The firing sequence of the Siestas in the VN also counts, it's Japanese transliterated into the Greek alphabet.
- Planetes's name is actually written in Greek (Πλανήτες).
- Last Exile uses the Greek alphabet for in-universe text— but it's actually just English text transliterated into Greek.
- The main Black Box technology in Full Metal Panic! is called a Lambda Driver.
- It's common in anime fan-art to enhance magic circles and Instant Runes by adding strings of greek letters apparently produced by rolling your face on the keyboard, or direct - often incorrect - transcriptions of English words into Greek characters.
- In the finale of Code Geass, Lelouch names one of his plans "Apate Aletheia." Apate was the Greek personification of deceit, while aletheia is a philosophical term that, at its simplest, means "truth." The Other Wiki has a lot more detail.
Βιντεοπαιχνιδια (Video games)
- The E-series robots from the Sonic the Hedgehog series (well, numbers 100 to 123 anyway), the most famous being E-102 Gamma and E-123 Omega. (E-100 Alpha is called ZERO in the games, but is known as Alpha by Word of God.)
- Joked about in the anime adaptation Sonic X Eggman: "As far as their names go, it's all Greek to me!"
- E-121 is named Phi, even though 121 should be Chi and 120 should be Phi.
- In Bomberman Tournament for the Game Boy Advance, all of the towns are named after Greek letters.
- Ratchet & Clank: Omega RYNO-4-Ever
- The various incarnations of Omega Weapon in the Final Fantasy series.
- Final Fantasy VII likes random smatterings of Greek text spelling English words. Like the shot bar in Junon, or signs for the Golden Saucer, and the letters displayed in the elevator in the reactors.
- In EarthBound, the PSI levels are measured through Greek Symbols, not numbers. The levels usually go Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Omega, but occasionally you'll see Sigma mixed in there as well.
- Half-Life, being a series that centers on a team of theoretical physicists fighting an alien invasion of Earth, is full with lots of references to modern physics, which is using the greek alphabet as symbols for new discovered and defined units and constants in Real Life.
- Most famous is the lambda λ (the lambda) as the official symbol of the series, which also is the logo of a research project that plays a central role in the first game. Since they made the now iconic orange suits made famous by the main character, the lambda is on his chest, and as such later became the symbol of the human resistance started by his former coworkers. It also is the symbol for the decay constant, which is an important part in the calculation of the Half-Life of radioactive elements.
- In the first game there is also the Tau Cannon, which apparently fires subatomic particles known as the Tau, which are related to electrons and named after another greek letter.
- Sigma, Big Bad of the Mega Man X series.
- Ax-Crazy psychopath Omega from Mega Man Zero.
- Omega-Xis, the main character's alien partner from Mega Man Star Force.
- The third through fifth installments of Mega Man Battle Network used Greek letters to refer to the different boss tiers. The weakest version was not marked with a Greek letter, though.
- Gamma (the final boss) from Mega Man 3.
- The remastered soundtracks for Mega Man Zero, barring the first, have Greek names that correspond to a theme of their game. The second game's soundtrack is Idea note , the third Telos note , the fourth Physis note , and the fifth Mythos note .
- Arceus from the Pokémon Diamond and Pearl games is known as the "Alpha Pokémon".
- The God of War franchise has a random Omega coupling the "of" in the logo.
- Omega shows up everywhere in the game too; even the experience point meter is a big Omega (Filling up a large letter Z with red fluid wouldn't look nearly as cool). The games do take place in ancient Greece though.
- Makai Kingdom has a Large Ham main character, Overlord Zetta [sic], the most badass overlord in the entire cosmos!
- The Lambda-11, Mu-12, Nu-13 series of Robot Girls in BlazBlue.
- The final chapter of Xenogears is named 'Alpha and Omega.' The game also directly quotes the Bible verse at the top of the page in its intro.
- Trauma Center's GUILT are named after the Greek names for the seven days of the week.
- Omega, alias for Naoki Maeda used in the song "MAX 300", the That One Boss song of DDRMAX: Dance Dance Revolution 6th Mix
- Welcome to the Ultimate Skatepark SKATE STATION ALPHA!
- G-Darius uses Greek letters for all its zone names; previous games used the Roman alphabet.
- Mass Effect series has a station called Omega a warring, violent place, and last place before the Omega 4 relay; that no ship ever comes back from.
- The Asari, being Greeks IN SPACE, are strongly associated with Greek place names. They live, for instance, in the Athena nebula (and are matriarchal). Illium, also, is deliberately close to the Latinate form of Ilion, Troy.
- One of the playable ships in Gradius Gaiden is called Falchion β.
- Subject Delta, the Alpha Series and half the locations in BioShock and its sequel.
- In the original Starcraft, the different colors of Terran units and buildings represented different "Squadrons" of the Confederate Military, which were named after Greek letters: Alpha Squadron, for instance, was the "first-in, first-out" Blood Knights led by General Duke.
- The denominations of the further stages in Metroid evolution are Alpha, Gamma, Zeta and Omega, in this order.
- All of Aika's specials in Skies of Arcadia are named with a Greek letter: Alpha Storm, Delta Shield, etc. Where she learned the Greek alphabet is anyone's guess.
- Most of Citadel Station's levels are divided into four quadrants- Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta.
- Oddly, McNinja Chipp Zanuff of Guilty Gear has four moves that are this: Alpha Blade, Beta Blade, Gamma Blade, and Delta End.
- The Flaming Sword in Beyond Oasis is called Omega.
- The four Communicators in Bionic Commando are identified by the first four letters of the Greek alphabet.
Δυτικα κινουμενα σχεδια (Western animation)
Επιτραπεζια Παιχνιδια (Tabletop Games)
- The Alpha Legion from Warhammer 40,000
- The Tau of Warhammer 40,000 are named for a Greek letter and use Greek letters in names of attack teams (well, in DarkCrusade: Sigma, Theta...)
- An timeline for Task Force Games' game Starfire in Nexus magazine #6. The Terran Federation's Survey Command issues Omega Contingency orders to govern the use of starship weapons against hostile aliens.
- The name of the dark metal band Achrostichon sounds cool and profound, but the term actually means a poem where taking the first letter of each verse gives you the title of the poem.
Τηλεοπτικες σειρες (Live action TV)
- Moonbase Alpha in Space: 1999
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- The Omega Directive (but the Prime Directive is interestingly NOT called the Alpha Directive)
- This one is something of an exception. The name of the Omega Directive is related to it's subject matter (Elimination of Omega particles), not it's importance or ranking order.
- Omega particles themselves are an example.
- access codes contain those
- Betazoids, perhaps
- The quadrants of the galaxy
- There's also Alpha-5 and Alpha-6, helpful robots from Power Rangers.
- Omega, the legendary Time Lord from Doctor Who
- Alpha Centauri, a character from The Curse of and The Monster of Peladon. (Technically, an unnamed ambassador from the star system of that name.)
- One episode mentions that, in school, the Doctor was nicknamed Theta Sigma.
- In The Evil of the Daleks, the first three Renegade Daleks with the Human Factor are named Alpha, Beta, and Omega.
- The "Old High Gallifreyan" alphabet looks suspiciously like Greek.
- The Alpha and Omega bomb from Beneath the Planet of the Apes
- Dollhouse uses the military alphabet to name its characters, but no doubt Alpha was selected for a significant character's name because of its cool Greek-ness.
- Plus, for symmetry with Alpha, Echo with all her personalities uploaded at once was called Omega.
- The eponymous space station of Babylon 5 names most of its Starfury squadrons after Greek letters and orbits a planet named Epsilon III. Psi Corps uses the letter as its insignia and all members wear it on a badge. Earth also fields the Omega-class destroyer and many many ships named after mythological figures.
- The "555" in Kamen Rider 555 is officially translated as "Φ's" ("Phi's" or "Faiz"), and the letter Phi is the motif of the lead character Kamen Rider Faiz. The series' theme song is titled "Justiφ's" (Justiphi's, Justifaiz, Justifies). The other Kamen Riders in the series are Kaixa (Χ Chi) and Delta (Δ). The series' Mooks called Riotroopers are even given the Omicron (Ο) as a symbolic Greek letter, despite it not thematically part of the name. All of the Greek letters are motifs for the characters' armors and arsenals. The masks/visors all resemble the letter (yes, the Riotroopers' visor consists solely of a giant featureless circle).
- The Kamen Riders in the Non-Serial Movie Paradise Lost are Psyga (Ψ Psi) and Orga (Ω Omega).
- Kamen Riders appearing in the show's action stage shows are Alpha, Beta, and Gamma.
- Who can forget the TV series GRSSK? Seems the logo designers forgot that Sigma doesn't make an "e" sound.
- In Xena: Warrior Princess , in the episode "The Titans", Gabrielle supposedly chants in Greek. What she says is actually a mix of casual Greek salutations, like "Hello" and "Good morning" along with some weird stuff like the Spanish word for "night" ("noche") and the name of a Greek olive oil company. This was very puzzling for Greek people when it first aired as it did sound familiar, but unless one would access the internet for the script, Gabrielle was just speaking utter crap with a horrible Greek accent.
- Ultra Hawk 1 and its Alpha, Beta, and Gamma flying components from Ultra Seven
- Greek letters are often part of a Mad Lib Thriller Title, as lampshaded in the Discworld novel The Last Continent.
- Speaking of Discworld, the unofficial motto of Unseen University is "Eta Beta Pi".
- Edgar Allan Poe's How to Write a Blackwood Article, a parody of the (apparently poorly-written) horror stories in the magazine Poe wrote for, has the narrator being told to include some random Greek in her story just because the letters look cool:
"The very letters have an air of profundity about them. Only observe, madam, the astute look of that Epsilon. That Phi ought certainly to be a bishop! Was there ever a smarter fellow than that Omicron? Just twig that Tau!"
- The different social classes in Brave New World are Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Epsilon.
- Roman authors, particularly ones who had studied philosophy, frequently drop Greek quotations into their works, making the trope Older Than Feudalism, though not in its present form.
- You also got the weird example of some authors, particularly later ones, favouring Greek grammar and syntax over more orthodox Latin despite not actually using Greek - as one author put it, "Writing in Greek with Latin words."
- Thomas de Quincey liked to flaunt his education by following his Roman idols in also liberally dropping untranslated Greek into his prose (in his case, he was mainly writing English).
- Anthony Trollope's minor characters Sir Lambda Mewnew and Sir Omicron Pie.
- Interestingly averted in The Mortal Instruments despite the regular use of Gratuitous Latin and the fact that Shadowhunters are usually educated in both Classical languages. While it is mentioned that some texts, such as the Book of White, are written in Greek, nobody seems to drop any Greek phrases, even though they often do so with Latin.
- The Marvel Universe has Alpha, Beta and Omega class mutants.
- The "Omega Effect" from The New Gods, Darkseid's ultimate attack.
- Its counterpart was later named the "Alpha Effect".
Διαδικτυακα κομικς (Webcomics)
- In Haru-Sari Cortinon named all the elves he was studying after greek letters the only one named was the young Chi-min (Omicron).
- Gunnerkrigg Court has Gamma and Zimmy (Word of God says the latter is a diminutive of "Zeta").
- Tales Of Gnosis College has this all over the place, from the inscriptions on the base of a campus statue to entire scandalous passages from Procopius read (in the original) in lectures.
Διαδικτυακης προελευσης (Web originals)
- In Up, the dogs are named Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Epsilon and so on. (One of the dogs who aren't identified by name is presumably Delta.)
- It's also possibly that Dug's name is actually a corruption of Omega.
- Star Wars uses greek letters to designate imperial fighter wings (generally speaking Alpha and Beta for TIE fighters, Gamma and Eta for TIE Bombers, Tau and Mu for Assualt Gunmboats and Omicron for TIE interceptors, IIRC)
- The letters pop up in other, usually Imperial, contexts as well, such as the Lambda-class shuttle seen in Jedi. The Rebels more often use Latin letters, i.e. X-, Y-, A-, and B-Wings.
- The Lambda shuttle actually resembles a lower-case Greek lambda when viewed nose first.
- The Omega-13 from Galaxy Quest.
- Alpha Beta base in Airplane II: The Sequel
- Lenin in Soviet and Russian films is particularly fond of the Greek superlative particle άρχι- or archi- (think "archdeacon" and "arch-nemesis"). His speeches and conversations in these films are filled with words like arkhivazhno ("arch-important", of utmost importance) and arkhislozhno ("arch-difficult"). Truth in Television.
- In True Lies, Harry Tasker works for the top-secret Omega Sector.
Πραγματικη ζωη (Real life)
- Fraternities and sororities in general.
- Mathematics, science and technology in general:
- Fundamental constants. Pi (π= 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288...), Phi (φ, the golden ratio), etc. Which makes a whole lot of sense when you remember that those constants were first mentioned by... The Ancient Greeks.
- The vast majority of list of medical roots, suffixes, prefixes and other terms are based on Ancient Greek. This is sensible as it was Hippocrates, an Ancient Greek, who divorced medicine from mere superstition (ending the apathetic belief that plagues were caused by Gods) and redefined it as a serious profession based on empirical observation.
- In physics, the three "traditional" types of radiation are Alpha (essentially a positive helium ion with a charge of or 2 depending on how your write it), Beta (a free electron) and Gamma (electromagnetic radiation). With derivatives like Delta rays, Omicron particles, etc. Physical constants and variables are frequently represented with Greek letters.
- Also, the subatomic particle zoo. The heavy leptons are the muon and tauon, with the corresponding mu-neutrino and tau-neutrino, and there are mesons named pi meson (or pion), eta meson, rho meson, upsilon meson, and one particle called the J/Psi because it couldn't be decided which of two groups deserved priority in naming.
- Not to mention the use of Greek roots in all of the following names: electron ("amber", since static electricity was first discovered in properties of amber), proton ("first"), lepton ("small"), meson ("middle"), baryon ("heavy"), hadron ("thick"), atom ("indivisible"), photon ("light"), photosynthesis, and more.
- Enumeration of stars in constellations, e.g. Alpha Centauri.
- Making unnamed planets called "Star Constellation Orbit": Gamma Hydra IV, Epsilon Canaris 3, Omicron Ceti 3, with some fuzzyness turning into Ceti Alpha 6, Beta Niobe, Psi 2000, etc.
- In software development (and other technological fields, note that technology is from the Greek words τέχνη (téchnē, "craft"), and -λογία (logia, "word/lecture/study"), thus τεχνολογία is roughly "craft studies") the use of "alpha" and "beta" to designate in-progress prototypes. Alpha being generally a prototype that's still being tested within the company and beta being a test type that's been released into the field (either to select people or to the general public) but is not a final mass-production release.
- Romans were big fans of this; according to contemporary and later sources, Romans of the late Republic and early Imperial era tended to use quite a lot of Greek in their speech (which was seen as a sign of cultivation and intelligence, and no doubt they also thought it was downright cool). Caesar is said to have quoted a Greek play in Greek when crossing the Rubicon. Caesar also gave the world its most refined case of Beam Me Up, Scotty! ever after Shakespeare reported his dying words as the Latin "Et tu, Brute?" If Caesar said anything at all, it was the Greek καὶ σὺ τέκνον? (that reads "Kai su, teknon?"), which translates to "You too, my son?" in English and "Tu quoque, Brute, fili mi?" in Latin. Incidentally, one of Caeasar's assassins, Casca, himself called for his brother's help in Greek when Caesar seized his arm.
- Caesar's only words confirmed by the contemporary sources were "Ista quidem vis est!", "This is violence!", when one of the senators grabbed his toga.
- The Organization Of Modern Extreme Grappling Arts, aka OMEGA
- Alpha is the callsign for the International Space Station.
- A river delta (or anything that has a triangle, such as a Delta wing) is named after the Greek letter Delta because of the shape. On Gor survivors from a battle that took place in a delta, and a group inspired by them to commit acts of Civil Disobedience, were informally referred to as the "Delta Brigade."
- The "X" in "X-mas" is really a "Chi". As in "Christ". Not so blasphemous after all!
- All three letters in the the name of T E X, Donald Knuth's typesetting system, are Greek, although this is masked (or ignored) when writing the name using an "e" as the middle letter
- The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has the letter Omega on its emblem, signifying finality.
- The uTorrent client's name is actually written with a Greek letter (µTorrent); the name should actually be read out as either "mu-torrent" or "microtorrent"note .
- Alpha and Delta, but not other Greek letter names, are part of the NATO spelling alphabet. Hence, Delta Force.
- In Dallas, Texas, there is a fairly major thoroughfare called Alpha Road. In a commercial zone in the northwest corner of the city, there are side streets that play off of the name: Beta Road, Gamma Road, Sigma Road and Omega Drive.
- There also exists 3 counties named Delta in the United States. Two of which are named after the greek letter Delta. One in Texas (northeast of Dallas) and the other in Michigan (north of Green Bay).
- Wolves' pack rankings used to be referred to as "alpha" for the leaders, "beta" for another high-ranking wolf, and "omega" for lowest-ranking. It was determined that this was misleading and should no longer be used, because it implies that a wolf fought for dominance, whereas wolf packs usually are just parents and their offspring - like a human family. Not that this stops fictional works from still using the "incorrect" terms; for example, the film Alpha and Omega.