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Rho (letter)

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Rho (letter)

For other uses, see Rho (disambiguation).

Rho (glyph.



Rho is classed as a liquid consonant (together with lambda and sometimes the nasals mu and nu), which has important implications for morphology. In both Ancient and Modern Greek, it represents a trilled or tapped r.

In polytonic orthography a rho at the beginning of a word is written with a rough breathing (equivalent to h) — rh — and a double rho within a word is written with a smooth breathing over the first rho and a rough breathing over the second — ῤῥ rrh — apparently reflecting an aspirated or voiceless pronunciation in Ancient Greek, hence the various Greek-derived English words which start with rh or contain rrh.

The name of the letter is written in Greek as ῥῶ (polytonic) or ρω/ρο (monotonic).

Other alphabets

Letters that arose from rho include Roman R and Cyrillic Er (Р).

Mathematics and science

The characters Ρ, ρ and ϱ are also used outside its Greek alphabetical context in science and mathematics.

  • In economics to represent the discount rate of future pence cash flows
  • In molecular biology to represent the Rho protein responsible for termination of RNA synthesis. In such occasions, it is often represented as ϱ ("rho symbol" U+03F1), to avoid confusion with the Latin letter p
  • In ecology to represent the population damping ratio where ρ = λ1 / |λ2|.

In theology, it is used to sometimes denote the crucifixion of Jesus.

Chi Rho

The letter rho overlaid with chi forms the Chi Rho symbol, used to represent Jesus Christ.

Rhodes Scholars

Former Rhodes Scholars are entitled to use the Greek letter rho as a designation of their status. When used, the symbol should precede the name.[1]

Character encodings

  • Greek Rho symbols

  • Coptic Ro

  • Technical Symbol

  • Mathematical Rho

These characters are used only as mathematical symbols. Stylized Greek text should be encoded using the normal Greek letters, with markup and formatting to indicate text style.

See also


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