Breathing mark

Okay. What's that squiggly thing over the epsilon?


It is called a "breathing mark." There are two types of breathing marks.

  • Smooth breathing, which is what we have here
  • Rough breathing, which we will see in a minute.

Every Greek word that begins with a vowel is going to have a breathing mark. The breathing on ἐστιν is a smooth breathing mark. It opens up to the left as if it were a backwards c. It is not pronounced.

Then why is it there if it isn't pronounced? There is a long history behind the breathing mark, but I doubt you care. Maybe I will tell you later. For now, just remember:

  • all words that start with a vowel have a breathing mark.

If it is a smooth breathing,

  • it opens up to the left,
  • it is not pronounced.