The English Language

Borrowed Words From
Greek

155 Words Listed


Greek Language Notes

Greek is an Indo-European language spoken in Greece, Cyprus, Middle East and Northern Egypt.

The number of words, prefixes and suffixes borrowed from Greek into English is too large for all to be included here. They can be grouped into several classes:

Educational and sporting ("gymnasium", "mathematics"), mythology ("amazon"), social and political ("democracy"), terms from Christianity ("eucharist", "bishop", "catholic"), theatrical ("drama", "chorus"), animals ("buffalo", "crocodile"), place names ("Egypt", "Ethiopia").

The vast majority of Greek borrowings are scientific terms: "astronomy", "geography", "biology".


WordMeaningNotes
-gram letter As in 'telegram' (far letter).
-graph writing As in 'biography' (life writing).
-logy study As in 'geology' (Earth study).
-meter measure As in 'thermometer' (measure heat).
-nomy laws As in 'astronomy' (star laws).
-philia friend As in 'necrophilia' (friend of death).
-phobia fear As in 'arachnophobia' (fear of spiders).
-phone voice As in 'telephone' (far voice).
-scope see As in 'telescope' (see far).
academy   One of many educational and sporting words from Greek.
acrobat walking on tiptoe  
alphabet   The names of the first two Greek letters, alpha and beta.
amazon without breasts A mythical tribe of warrior females.
amnesia without memory The letter A at the beginning of a word means 'without'.
anonymous without name  
anthropo- man As in 'anthropology' (study of man).
anti- opposite As in 'antimatter'.
antipodes opposite feet The region of the Earth below one's feet.
aracno- spider As in 'arachnophobia' (fear of spiders).
aristocrat best ruler One of many social and political words from Greek.
asbestos cannot be extinguished  
athlete contender for prize  
attic   Part of a temple.
Australia southern Southern hemisphere country.
auto- self As in 'automatic'.
bar- weight As in 'barometer', measure weight (of air).
barbarian   To the Greeks, foreign languages sounded like 'bar bar bar'.
bio- life As in 'biology' (study life).
bishop   One of many words in the Christian religion from Greek.
buffalo   An animal.
canopy mosquito net  
cathedral seat  
catholic universal  
cemetery dormitory  
ceramic    
choreo- dance As in 'chorography' (write dance).
chorus dance A group on a stage that sing or dance. One of many dramatical or theatrical words from Greek.
Christ anointed  
chrono- time As in 'chronology' (study time).
cosmos all, everyone  
crocodile   A large reptile.
cryo- cold As in 'cryogenics' (create cold).
crypto- hidden As in 'cryptology' (study the hidden). The gas 'Krypton' is from the same root.
cynic dog  
democracy state of the people  
dinosaur terrible lizard  
diploma folded in two  
dogma    
drama activity  
echo    
economy manage a house  
ego- I As in 'egocentric' (centred on self).
Egypt   North African country.
epitaph over the tomb  
Ethiopia hot face East African country.
Eucharist thanks The Christian ceremony of giving thanks.
Exodus going out, exit One of the books of the Christian holy book, the Bible.
genesis beginning  
geo- earth As in 'geography' (write about the Earth).
gymnasium from 'gymnos', naked Athletes were traditionally naked.
gynae- woman As in 'gynaecology' (study woman).
gypsy   From the same root as 'Egypt'.
helicopter spiral wing  
helio- sun As in 'helioscope' (see the Sun).
hemi- half As in 'hemisphere' (half a sphere).
hero    
hetero- different As in 'heterosexual' (different sex).
hippopotamus river horse  
history   The same root as 'story'.
holocaust entirely burnt  
horizon defining  
hydro- water As in 'hydrolic', worked by water.
idea    
India   The same root as Hindi, Hindu, Indus, and Sind.
isotope same place  
Istanbul in the town City in Turkey.
kilo- thousand As in 'kilogram' (a thousand grams).
litho- stone As in 'lithograph' (writing on stone).
logarithm account, addition  
marathon   Named after a battleground from where a messenger ran 26 miles (42 km).
martyr witness  
mathematics something learnt  
meander From a winding river now in Turkey.  
mechanic machine  
mega- big As in 'megastore'.
melody    
Mesopotamia between the rivers Ancient region now part of Iraq.
method pursuit of knowledge  
metropolis mother city  
micro- small As in 'microscope' (see small).
mime imitator  
monarch one who rules alone  
moron stupid  
museum home of the muses  
myopia vision of a mouse Short sighted.
myriad ten thousand  
mystery secret ceremony  
Naples new city City in Italy. The same root as the Palestinian city, 'Nablus'.
nemesis    
neural nerve  
nous mind  
obelisk    
ocean   The name of a sea deity.
Olympic   Named after Olympia and Mount Olympus in Greece.
orphan    
ostracize   Named after pieces of pottery on which the names of people to be exiled were written.
paleo- old As in 'paleontology', study old (fossils).
pandemonium abode of all devils  
panic terror induced by the god Pan  
panorama full view  
paranoia distracted  
philo- friend As in 'philosophy' (friend of wisdom).
Phoenician purple Ancient people - they were famous for exporting a purple dye.
phono- voice As in 'phonetics'.
photo- light As in 'photograph' (light writing).
Pluto   God of death; ninth planet.
poly- many As in 'polygon', a many sided figure.
programme public written notice  
prophet    
psalm    
psycho- spirit, soul As in 'psychology' (study the spirit).
pygmy fist Refering to something the size of a fist.
pylon gate  
pyramid    
python   A large snake.
rhinoceros horned nose  
rhythm    
sarcasm speak bitterly  
scene tent, stage  
seismic shaking  
siphon pipe  
skeleton dried up  
sporadic scattered seeds  
stethoscope see the chest  
stigma mark  
strategy military general  
sycophant show figs  
symphony same sound  
synopsis same view  
syntax same arrangement  
Syria   Middle East country - from the name of a tribe.
tele- far As in 'telephone' (far voice), 'telescope' (seeing far).
theater, theatre    
theory contemplation  
therm- heat As in 'thermometer' (measure heat).
thesaurus treasure  
thesis place, position  
thorax chest  
toxic arrow Poisoned arrows were used in warfare.
tragedy billy goat Theatre was originally associated with worship of the goat-like god, Pan.
treacle    
tripod three feet  
tyrant    
Uranus   The seventh planet.
xeno- stranger As in 'xenophobia' (fear of strangers).

[Borrowed Words (German)] [Borrowed Words (Guarani)]

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