The Greek letter **ζ** (zeta) was derived from the ancient Phoenician letter 𐤆 (zayin) which meant “sword” or some other weapon.

In the system of Greek numerals, the letters α to ε have the respective values 1 through 5. Bizarrely, **ζ** has the value of 7. This may account for the fact that chemists don’t like using Greek letters beyond **ε** when numbering the atoms in the chain. Still, the lower-case letter ζ has some uses in maths and sciences, for example:

- in colloidal chemistry: ε
_{i}, ζ-potential, the electrokinetic potential of colloidal dispersions - in mathematics:
*ζ*(*s*), the Euler–Riemann zeta function - in mathematics:
*ζ*(*z*; Λ), the Weierstrass zeta function - in pharmacology: a type of opioid receptor

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