Sometimes letters in mathematics are printed in special fonts (e.g., fraktur p for a prime ideal or script F for a sheaf). If I had a script X and wanted to literally say "script X" and not just "X", is it correct to say икс рукописное?

For context, I learned from several Russian mathematicians, who had been educated in Russia at least through the undergraduate degree, that the first four LaTeX typefaces in the list

enter image description here

are pronounced as follows:

  • "bold X" is икс жирное,
  • "gothic X" is икс готическое,
  • "italic X" is икс курсивное
  • "calligraphic X" is икс калиграфическое.

The last example, "script X", is one I did not get a consistent answer about and that is the one I am asking about now. I am specifically interested in a translation where the term "script" is treated as an adjective (the same way I wrote the other font translations above), so Russian translations where the instrumental case of the font name is used, which would correspond essentially to "X written by means of script", are not the type of translation I'm looking for.

  • btw, this has nothing to do with fonts or with math. It's purely a typography question dealing in weights. Like with other languages, there are plenty of uses for the different weights apart from math. Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 5:04
  • @Vitaly: I agree the question I ask can be considered with a broader scope, but in case there were different conventions about how letters in various fonts are described in math and in other areas, I wanted to know the way it goes in math since that is the case of interest to me.
    – KCd
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 18:57

4 Answers 4


AFAIU it depends on what exactly do you need to highlight:

  1. You want to specify the typographic visual representation of x. In this case you need to emphasize font details. For example:

    • икс курсивом (literally: x in italic font)
  2. You want listeners to understand the difference between x and x. I have several suggestions here:

    • икс наклонный (literally: inclined x)
    • икс рукописный (literally: handwritten x)
    • икс косой (literally: oblique x)
  • 1
    I might be opening up a can of worms here, but I was told by several Russian mathematicians that all Latin and Greek letter names are considered to be neuter in Russian mathematics (there was some uncertainty on delta, but not on the others). So I am intrigued that you write your adjectives as if икс is masculine. Do the phrases икс наклонное or икс рукописное sound strange to you?
    – KCd
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 1:07
  • No, they don't. I always treated икс as masculine, but I've heard phrases like икс большое. Orthographic dictionary treats икс as masculine. I don't think it's wrong to treat variables as neutral, by analogy with неизвестное. Also many times I've heard people treating альфа and омега as feminine. Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 3:41
  • 1
    @KCd It's very much a question of the specific use. If you're referring to the actual letter itself, then neuter is pretty common among pedants and teachers :). But a person talking about a variable that actually represents something would never say "между ними большое дельта", only большая дельта (the delta [math. difference] between them is large). Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 5:01

In Russian math books Latin letters in formulae are set off in italics by default. It's a standard. So usually there is no need to emphasize this fact. However, if it's printed it's not рукописный (handwritten), it's курсив (italics).

  • Yep. And instead of different typefaces greek and even hebrew letters are used.
    – kirilloid
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 19:19

If you mean X which was handwritten or any handwritten text, it would rather be икс прописной or икс прописью.

  • 5
    That sounds more like "capital x" to me.
    – kotekzot
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 5:11
  • Capital is a type of LETTER CASE, which is the distinction between the larger majuscule (capital, caps, upper case, upper-case, or uppercase) and smaller minuscule (lower-case, etc.) letters. Here the question was about special FONTS rather than LETTER CASE.
    – Eugene S
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 5:15
  • 2
    Yes, I am aware of that. "Прописной" means "capital", so instead of communicating "script x" you would be communicating "X". See the problem?
    – kotekzot
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 5:18
  • 1
    Perhaps this will demonstrate: translation, definition.
    – kotekzot
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 5:22
  • 1
    Perhaps "Икс прописью" would be more clear?
    – xyzman
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 6:03

I believe, this could be called "рукописное", but I've not seen such typeface was used.

BTW Correct name for typographic characteristic like "X written by means of italic" would be "курсивное начертание" or "Икс в курсивном начертании".

Most people are not professionals in typography, though and use simpler form like "икс курсивом".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.