Epsilon

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The Greek letter epsilon (ε, upper case Ε) is the ancestor of our letter e (E). There is also a form developed by mathematicians and others known to printers as a 'Latin epsilon' - one whose upper case form is Ɛ. In classical Greek it was used to represent a short 'e', in distinction from eta (η, Η) the long 'e'. In the International phonetic Alphabet, the symbol /ɛ/ is used for the '-e-' sound in such words as 'get', 'deaf' and 'said'.

The name of the letter epsilon is pronounced in two ways.

  • The traditional British pronunciation is stressed on the second syllable, whose vowel is like 'eye' ('eps-EYE-lon', IPA: /É› ˈpsaɪ lÉ™ (or É’)n/
  • Increasingly, even in the UK, the American pronunciation is to be heard, with the stress on the first syllable and a reduced vowel in the second: 'EPS-ill-ahn', IPA: /ˈɛps ɪl ˌɒːn/.