The different mass states of neutrinos are generally named $\nu_1, \nu_2, \nu_3$.

By comparison, the names of quark mass states (up, down, strange, and so on) or the names of mass states of charged leptons (electron, muon, tau(on)) appear more distinctive, or whimsical.

Have there been perhaps any suggestions of correspondingly less generic "proper names" for each of the (three distinct) neutrino mass states?

  • $\begingroup$ Arent neutrinos referred to as flavours now ? $\endgroup$ Oct 23, 2013 at 6:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @rijul gupta: "Aren't neutrinos referred to as flavours now ?" -- As far as quarks and charged leptons are concerned, "flavor" is apparently synonymous to "mass state"; and they are denoted by the familiar names mentioned in the question. On the other hand, the widely used neutrino names $\nu_e, \nu_{\mu}, \nu_{\tau}$ are referring to mixing states, not to mass states. $\endgroup$
    – user12262
    Oct 23, 2013 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ My point, exactly. I suspect they are waiting till they resolve the hierarchy. The present placeholder names, 1,2,3 are a perpetual source of confusion, as evinced in the comment question! $\endgroup$ Apr 29, 2017 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ Do you have your own suitable names? $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2019 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Cosmas Zachos: "Do you have your own suitable names?" – Well: being put on the spot (and just back from vacation) I'd like to call those three: vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate. $\endgroup$
    – user12262
    Aug 7, 2019 at 22:19

1 Answer 1


No. The data is analyzed with $\nu_1, \nu_2,\nu_3 $, well defined by their mixing matrices in the PDG, but, before the resolution of the hierarchy, they cannot be identified firmly with the classroom poster placeholder names $\nu_L, \nu_M,\nu_H $, Lightest, Middle, Heaviest.

In the normal hierarchy, the two sets identify ordinally; ultimately, after the resolution of the hierarchy, somebody will think of good names--but not as good as my linked answer's: Huey, Dewey, and Ratatouille, needless to say...

The PDG poster above is a vast advance w.r.t. the older version of that poster featuring the oxymoronic weak-charged-current "eigen"states $\nu_e,\nu_\mu,\nu_\tau$, regrettably still featured in dark corners of WP, and often referred to as "lepton flavor eigenstates", an absurd and confusing name indicating lepton flavor is thereby ipso facto violated!!


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