Meaning, History And Uses Explained
You’ve probably heard of the word “Omega” many times before. You might remember it from your math or science classes, the Biblical phrase “Alpha and Omega” or as the brand logo of your Swiss luxury watch, if you are lucky enough to have one.
True enough, the Greek Omega symbol has a lot of uses, denoting and symbolizing a lot of different things. You’ll see it used in science, mathematics, and even in entertainment.
In a previous post, we have given you a summary of the origins and history of the Greek alphabet and all of the letters that compose it, including Omega.
In this article, we’ll take a more in-depth look at the Omega letter. Here is everything you need to know about the Omega symbol, its meaning, origins and how it is being used in different fields of study and industries.
The Origins and Basic Usage of the Omega Symbol
Omega (uppercase: Ω, lowercase: ω) is the 24th letter of the Greek alphabet. Written as ὦ μέγα in Ancient Greek and ωμέγα in Modern Greek, the Omega symbol represents a value of 800 in the Greek numerical system, also known as the Gematria.
Omega, as a word, literally means “great O”. This is in contrast with the other Greek alphabet letter Omicron, which means “little O”.
The Omega sign was not part of the first set of Greek alphabet letters. It was not introduced until the late 7th century BC.
It was first used in the Asia Minor’s Ionian cities to represent the long half-open [ɔː], making it a variation of Omicron, but broken at the side and with the edges turned outward to the different directions.
In other words, Omega was born out of the Greek alphabet itself, and it was not derived from other alphabets. The name Omega, however, is of Byzantine origin. In Classical Greek, Omega was referred to as ō (ὦ), while Omicron was pronounced as ou (οὖ).
The Cyrillic Omega (Ѡ, ѡ) is a derivation of the Greek Omega letter. While the Latin alphabet also borrowed the Omega symbol, it had very little use that it’s almost as if it was never adopted.
As the last letter of the Greek alphabet, the Omega sign is often used to signify the end, and as such, is in direct contrast with Alpha.
How is the Omega Symbol Used Today?
Both the uppercase and lowercase Omega symbols have various uses in today’s world. Because the uppercase and lowercase signs are completely different from each other, scientists and other experts found various uses for both.
Uses for the Uppercase Omega (Ω)
From chemistry to physics, there are a lot of things that the uppercase Omega represents.
In chemistry, it is the symbol used for oxygen-18, a stable, natural isotope of oxygen. It is also the symbol used to denote ohm, the unit of electrical resistance.
Meanwhile, in statistical mechanics, it symbolizes the multiplicity in a particular system.
In particle physics, the uppercase Omega represents the Omega byrons. In astronomy, it represents the density of the universe, as well as an orbit’s longitude of the ascending node.
Moreover, in mathematics and computer science, the uppercase Omega represents the Omega constant, the sub-object classifier, prime divisors, and the Chaitin’s constant.
The uppercase Omega has also been widely used in logos of some brands, the most popular of which is the Omega Watches.
It is also a part of the original logo of Pioneer as well as being one of the components of the badge of the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court.
Uses for the Lowercase Omega (ω)
In biochemistry and chemistry, the lowercase Omega symbolizes one of the RNA polymerase units. It also symbolizes the measure of evolution at the protein level.
In physics, it denotes angular velocity and frequency. Meanwhile, in meteorology, it signifies the change of pressure in relation to the time of a parcel of air.
In mathematics, it is used in number theory to denote an arithmetic function. It also symbolizes the Wright Omega function, as well as the first ordinal number in set theory.
How to Type the Omega Symbol?
Do you need to type or insert the Omega into a document? There are several ways to do this.
How to type the Omega symbol in Word?
There are two basic ways to insert an Omega symbol into a Word document. First is through the Insert tab, while the other requires you to use an ALT code.
To insert the Omega symbol in a Word document, simply locate the “Insert” tab. Then, look for “Symbols”. Click on the drop-down and wait for the Insert dialog box to appear.
In the dialog, you’ll see the field, “Subset:” on the right side. Click on the drop-down and choose “Greek and Coptic”.
Meanwhile, on the “from:”, which is at the right bottom part of the dialog box, choose Unicode (hex). The symbols selection should now change, and you can find the Omega symbol you need.
The other method uses the ALT+code keyboard shortcut. If your keyboard has the traditional numeric keypad, you can try this: Press and hold ALT, then type 969 for the lowercase Omega, and 937 for the uppercase.
How to insert the Omega symbol in Excel?
Being largely a mathematical symbol, you may need to insert the symbol Omega into your Excel file. There are two ways to do this.
The first is to utilize the Insert method as described above. In your Excel window, locate the Insert menu or tab. Then, follow the steps as you would insert an Omega in a Word document.
The next method requires the use of the keyboard shortcut, with an additional step. On the cell where you want to insert the symbol, type the unicode 3C9 for lowercase Omega and 3A9 for uppercase Omega. Make sure the font is set to Hex. Now, press and hold on the ALT key, then press X. The code should automatically change into its symbol form.
How to type the Omega symbol on Mac?
If you’re a Mac user, you might be surprised that it’s actually very easy to insert an Omega uppercase or lowercase symbol as you type.
Simply press and hold the Option key, then press g or w to insert the lowercase Omega. If you need the uppercase symbol, turn caps lock on, then try the shortcut again.
This is the end of our article on the Greek Omega symbol, its meaning and history. If you enjoyed reading the piece, you might want to check out our articles on the Sigma symbol here and the Epsilon symbol here. Thanks for reading with us, see you in the next post.