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Lambda uc lc.svg
Greek alphabet
Αα Alpha Νν Nu
Ββ Beta Ξξ Xi
Γγ Gamma Οο Omicron
Δδ Delta Ππ Pi
Εε Epsilon Ρρ Rho
Ζζ Zeta Σσς Sigma
Ηη Eta Ττ Tau
Θθ Theta Υυ Upsilon
Ιι Iota Φφ Phi
Κκ Kappa Χχ Chi
Λλ Lambda Ψψ Psi
Μμ Mu Ωω Omega
Archaic local variants
  • Digamma
  • Heta
  • San
  • Koppa
  • Sampi
  • Tsan
ϛ (6)
ϟ (90)
ϡ (900)
In other languages
Scientific symbols


Lambda (uppercase Λ{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}, lowercase λ{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}; Greek: Λάμ(β)δα{{#invoke:Category handler|main}} lam(b)da) is the 11th letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals lambda has a value of 30. Lambda is related to the Phoenician letter Lamed Lamedh. Letters in other alphabets that stemmed from lambda include the Latin L and the Cyrillic letter El (Л, л). The ancient grammarians and dramatists give evidence to the pronunciation as Template:IPA-el (λάβδα{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}) in Classical Greek times.[1] In Modern Greek the name of the letter, Λάμδα, is pronounced Template:IPA-el; the spoken letter itself has the sound of [l] as with Latinate "L".

In early Greek alphabets, the shape and orientation of lambda varied.[2] Most variants consisted of two straight strokes, one longer than the other, connected at their ends. The angle might be in the upper-left, lower-left ("Western" alphabets), or top ("Eastern" alphabets). Other variants had a vertical line with a horizontal or sloped stroke running to the right. With the general adoption of the Ionic alphabet, Greek settled on an angle at the top; the Romans put the angle at the lower-left.

The HTML 4 character entity references for the Greek capital and small letter lambda are "Λ" and "λ", respectively.[3] The Unicode number for lambda is 03BB.

The Greek alphabet on a black figure vessel, with a Phoenician-lamed-shaped lambda. (The gamma has the shape of modern lambda.)


Upper-case letter Λ

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Lower-case letter λ

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Lower-case lambda

Lambda, the word

>>> list = ['woman', 'man', 'horse', 'boat', 'plane', 'dog']
>>> sorted(list, key = lambda word: (word[-1]))
['horse', 'plane', 'dog', 'woman', 'man', 'boat']
  • In the C# programming language a lambda expression is an anonymous function that can contain expressions and statements.[6]
  • The language Unlambda is a functional programming language based upon combinatory logic, a simplification of the lambda calculus that does not involve the lambda at all, hence the un- prefix.
  • An automotive oxygen sensor (O2 sensor) is also known as a lambda probe, sensor, sond, or sonde.
  • Lambda is used in art and photography to refer to a digital Type C print, or to the equipment that is used to produce it.
  • Lambda was used by Pythagoras to denote the "Lambda number sequence" 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 8, 27, ...,(sequence A098293 in OEIS) formed by the integers of the form 2i and 3i, for nonnegative integer i.{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B=

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  • In the study of gasoline engines, Lambda sometimes refers to the air/fuel mixture going into the engine.

Lambda as a name

  • Stargate SG-1 uses a modified upper-case lambda, with a small circle above the apex, to indicate Earth. This symbol has since become associated with the entire franchise.[7][8]
  • The popular science fiction universe of Star Wars uses a transport vehicle known as the Lambda-class shuttle that when viewed forward has the shape of the lowercase lambda.[9]
  • Lambda is occasionally used in graphic design to represent a stylised 'A'. Examples include the Disney movie Atlantis: The Lost Empire, the logo of the band Angels & Airwaves, the logo of the band Dream Theater, the logo of electronics company Samsung, and the logo of the engineering consultancy Atkins. Conversely, the name of the band Λucifer (pronounced lucifer) is sometimes spelled Aucifer.
  • The upper-case lambda is used as the alias of Providence, Rhode Island based musician Xavier Valentine.[10]
  • The Half-Life franchise of video games uses an encircled block style lower-case lambda as the franchise logo (Half-Life 2 adds the numeral 2 into the logo as superscript), prominently featured on the chest of Gordon Freeman's (the protagonist) powered armor, known as an HEV suit. In the first game, the logo appears at the entrances of the Black Mesa Research Facility's Lambda Complex, which conducted teleportation research. In Half-Life 2 and its Episodes, the encircled block lambda is the universal symbol of the Resistance, often spraypainted to mark the location of safehouses and hidden supply caches; full-time Resistance members wear armbands containing a lower-case lambda without the circle.
  • In the 2D fighting game series BlazBlue, a recurring character named Lambda-11 appears in the various games' story modes and as a playable character.
  • Several gay rights organizations, such as Lambda Legal and the Lambda Literary Award derive their names from the use of a lower-case lambda as a symbol for gay and lesbian rights.
  • In the RPG game Tales of Graces, originally made for the Wii, Lambda is the name of the main story's antagonist.
  • There is a PlayStation Vita game known as Cytus Lambda.

Character Encodings

Unicode uses the spelling "lamda" in character names, instead of "lambda".

  • Greek Lambda / Coptic Laula


  • Mathematical Lambda



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


  1. Herbert Weir Smyth. A Greek Grammar for Colleges. I.1.c
  2. Template:Cite web
  3. World Wide Web Consortium W3C. HTML 4.01 Specification, 24. Character entity references in HTML 4. [1]
  4. Template:Cite web
  5. Wankat Separation Process Engineering 2nd ed, Prentice Hall
  6. Template:Cite web
  7. Template:Cite web
  8. Template:Cite web
  9. Template:Cite web
  10. Template:Cite web