What Does The Delta Symbol Mean? It’s All Greek To Me!

Delta symbol upper and lower case main

The Delta symbol arises from the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet.  It has two forms: the upper case Delta, a small triangle (Δ), and the lower case (δ). The word “delta” is associated with triangles or three-sided things (Mississippi Delta). The Delta symbol is commonly used in scientific equations and as a financial term meaning “difference.” The symbol also has various other meanings including an abbreviation of “defendant” in law.  

Delta Delta Delta

Monica on Friends has to pick a song to sing.  Her choice is Delta Dawn:

Delta Dawn, what’s that flower you have on?

Could it be a faded rose from days gone by?

And did I hear you say, he was a-meeting you here today

To take you to his mansion in the sky?

In an earlier episode, Rachel sees a couple of students when they drop in to see Ross:

Oh hey, look! There’s some Kappa Kappa Deltas! I was a Kappa. (to them) Hey sisters! (They ignore her.) (To Monica) Wow, we really are [not nice people].

Delta, Delta, Delta!  Okay, enough sitcom talk.  But, this does help explain the Delta Symbol.  

Delta: Greek Letter 

A lot of symbols turn out to have originated as Greek letters. For instance, “alpha” (alpha male) is the first letter of the Greek alphabet.  “Beta testing” comes from the second letter (beta).  

Delta is the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet. An uppercase delta is the shape of a small triangle (Δ). The lowercase delta symbol (δ) is also sometimes used. Delta has a numerical value of “four.” In ancient times, letters often stood for their numerical value. 

The Greek letter is the source of various things that you might have heard about, especially things somehow related to triangles or triads (sets of three).  Monica’s song, for instance, is named after a woman from the Mississippi Delta, a triangle-shaped area.  

Rachel saw members of her sorority. Fraternities and sororities are often referred to as “Greek” and have Greek names to symbolize the values they are supposed to retain.  

Other groups also have Greek names.  For instance, I am a member of Phi Alpha Theta (history). 

“I was Promised There Would Not Be Any Math”

Sorry.  The Delta symbol is commonly used in math and scientific equations.  The Delta symbol is used to designate differences or changes.  This would be a typical equation:

“Delta” is also used in financial discussions and charts to show the differences between two amounts.  Thus, this book summary talks about a “delta column.”  

The lowercase Delta also is used in scientific equations.  It also can be used as the fourth in a series for scientific purposes.  Thus, we have “Delta variants” of COVID.  

Need more delta equations? Enjoy.

Now For A Guitar Solo … 

The delta symbol is also used to designate the seventh chord in jazz music.  

Why is a triangle symbol, which would logically symbolize something three-sided or such, used here?  Simply put, it has to do with “thirds,” a musical note term.  

Okay.  I am getting a flashback of Phoebe trying to teach Joey how to play the guitar.

Legal Symbolism 

Law uses a lot of symbols, abbreviations, and foreign language words.  

A person who provides helpful information to a court is known by the Latin term “amicus” (friend).  The Greek letter Delta is used as a shorthand symbol for the Defendant, the person who has to defend against a lawsuit.  “D” for Defendant.    

Spiritual Meanings 

Triangles and other three-sided symbols are ancient symbols of friendship and spirituality.   For instance, a triangle is an ancient symbol of the Christian trinity.

The triangle-shaped Delta symbol also can have such meanings.  It can symbolize three people in a special relationship, including a polygamous sexual one.  

The “change” meaning of the Delta symbol also can have a deep spiritual meaning, including showing someone having a conversion experience.  The lowercase Delta also can be used to symbolize the spiritual journey of a disciple of various religious faiths.  

Final Thoughts 

My mom is going on a trip soon.  This leads me to think of Delta Air Lines.

Delta Air Lines has a triangle-shaped logo. The company is named after the Mississippi Delta region.  Financially, it has had its ups and downs.  Can imagine the “deltas” on its spreadsheets.

Do they have a flight for mansions in the sky?

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