Ancient Greek Delta Symbol and its Meanings in the Modern World

What is the meaning of the Delta symbol?

The Greek letter Delta Symbol (lower case delta δ / uppercase delta Δ) is the fourth letter in the Greek alphabet. In both the Ancient and Modern Greek language, it’s the sound “d.”

The Delta symbol originated in Ancient Greece and thus is rich in symbolism. The Delta, which corresponds to the letter D in the English alphabet, looks like a triangle in its capital form (Δ).

By itself, the triangle’s significance as a geometric form contains a plethora of connotations. With its three united sides, the triangle signifies the beginning, middle, and ending, but also body, mind, and spirit, in an esoteric perspective.

Even in ancient Greece, the Delta represented the four elements: earth, water, fire, and air, implying the completeness of the universe. As a result, the definition of Delta is “the sum of all things.” It can also indicate the accomplishment of a journey or a task.

The letter delta was derived from the Phoenician letter daleth, which means door. As a result, this letter was initially designed as a door or a gate, before its use in science or to describe the river delta. The capital letter resembled that of the Phoenician

The term “river delta” was initially used to describe the Nile River. This is because of the form of the capital delta letter, which is practically triangular.

Various Uses of the Delta Symbol

This letter is now used in finance, science, genetics, mathematics, and other fields. In jazz music, the Delta from the Greek alphabet represents the major seventh chord. In engineering mechanics, the lower case Delta stands for deflection; it is also used in actuarial science, mathematics, optical mineralogy, and chemistry.

The Delta Sign in Mathematics

In mathematics, the uppercase delta symbol represents changes in variables. On the other hand, the lowercase delta symbol indicates small quantities in math arguments. These involves limits, a fundamental notion in calculus, for example.

A delta in a mathematical equation could represent change in any quantity that may alter. The delta letter in the Greek alphabet is the first in the word for difference, διαφoρά (diaphorá).


In chemistry, the symbol for heat is Delta (Δ). This symbol is commonly observed in many chemical reactions. It indicates that the reaction is taking place in the presence of heat.

What is the meaning of the symbols in law?

In law, the upper case Greek symbol represents the defendant. The “double S” is another name for the section symbol. What is the difference between a plaintiff and a defendant?

In contrast to the defendant, the plaintiff is the person bringing a legal action or in whose name one is obtained.

Other uses for the uppercase delta and lowercase delta symbols

For example, the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet serves to denote uncertainty in physical variables in quantum mechanics. It also symbolizes delta particles in particle physics.

The uppercase symbol in physics or chemistry defines a limited change of a numeric value.  However, the lowercase delta symbol is used for microscopic changes.

If you changed pressure by a finite amount, you would designate it as ∆P. But, if you changed pressure by an infinitesimal amount, you would designate it as δP.

The lower case delta (δ) and upper case delta (Δ) used in programs:

The Greek capital letter Delta can be used in Excel, PowerPoint, Word, and Office for Mac and Office for Windows. 

How to insert the Delta Symbol in Microsoft Word?

The delta sign can be written in Word, including using the formula editor, the Greek alphabet, and symbol selection in the symbols tab. In Word, there are a few different ways to add the delta character:

– One way is to hold down Alt on your keyboard and enter 916 on your number pad. This way works in a few office apps and fonts as well. 

 – You can also copy and paste the uppercase ∆ symbol or lowercase δ delta symbol into your Word. You can also use it on Office, Wordpad, Notepad, and similar office apps.

 – Another way is to write 2206 on your number pad. After that, press the keys Alt and C to write the delta sign. This way only works for Microsoft Word, however.  

How to insert the symbol in Office

In the Special Characters option in various office applications like Microsoft Word, LibreOffice, or OpenOffice, you will find special symbols. Such are mathematical operators and the entire Greek alphabet. You also could do it this way to put the different “deltas” in a document:

– In your Office document, go to the “Insert tab” and then to the “Special characters” menu option.

– To place the delta symbol font in your Office document or table, select the appropriate Delta and hit the Insert button.

Insert > Symbols for Delta in Microsoft Office

This is one of the most common methods to insert the Delta sign in Office. First, go to the “Insert tab,” “Symbols,” and choose any font and “Greek (or Coptic) in the “Subset” bar.

Here you will find the “Δ or δ” and double click on the one you need. 

Inserting the Delta via the use of the Equation

This method of inserting the Greek capital letter delta is ideal if you don’t worry about the format or compatibility with older Microsoft Office versions (a suggested strategy for mathematics and physical science, which require a great deal of arithmetic in the text with uniform typefaces for all symbols and equations):

– Click “Alt + =” where you would like to use the Greek letter. By doing this, you will open the “Insert equitation” block.

– Now, you can enter the letter you need simply by inserting “\ +” and the name of said letter.

Gloria White

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