About GreekEdit

The Greek language is a completely independent branch of the Indo-European family. The Indo-European family is made up of hundreds of languages and dialects including the Greek language. The foundation of Western civilization is written in Greek. It is the official language of Greece and Cyprus, and is one of 23 official languages in the European Union. Greek is spoken in Greece, Cyprus, and diaspora communities by 13 million people. [1][2]

How Greek words made their way into EnglishEdit

Greek first made its way into Latin in Rome. The Greeks were making great advancements in many areas, so the Romans took Greece over and began sending the wealthy to Greece to learn the language. The Latin alphabet is derived from Greek and Phoenecian scripts. The most popular dialect of Greek known as Koine still remained relevant in Rome and coexisted alongside Latin. The Greek language became more prevalent during the Renaissance and the Middle Ages when the works of famous Greek dramatists, philosophers, and scientists became of interest to the Western world. The Greek language was then taught in schools and the famous works were translated into French, Italian, and English. Greek also spread in the Western world through the Etruscan civilization. The Etruscan culture was influenced by Greek and the Hellenic civilization that was close to the Etruscan civilization in southern Italy. The Etruscan alphabet was developed from a variation of the Greek alphabet. Without the Etruscan alphabet and writing system, the Latin alphabet and its use in the English language would not exist. Greek also filtered into Latin and the Etruscan alphabet throughout various inscriptions such as the Praeneste fibula and the Duenos inscription. The inscriptions were written in Greek letters, but were Latin words. This spread the Greek alphabet so that, over time, the Etruscans developed their own alphabet based on Greek.[3]

Greek words have also made their way into the English language through Greek mythology and medicine. For example, the Achilles' Tendon comes from a Greek myth about Achilles. When he was a baby, Achilles was dipped into the River of Styx to make him immortal. His entire body was dipped into the river excluding a small spot on his heel where his mother was holding him. That part on his heel became his weak spot and he was killed when struck by an arrow in that spot. This spot has become well-known as the Achilles' Tendon. The words echo, nemesis, narcissism, and mentor also come from a well-known Greek myth. These words were originally Greek, but have been adopted into the English language. Greek words have also made their way into the English language through medicine. Many words that are used in modern medicine are built from Greek roots. For example, tachycardia is abnormal rapidity of the heart. Tachy is swift and cardia is heart.

Some English words borrowed from GreekEdit

  • Catastrophe
  • Lexicon

Lex-= choose/speak

-icon= image/likeness

  • Chaos
  • Crisis
  • Climax
  • Messenger
  • Church
  • Apostle
  • Monk
  • Prophet
  • Patriarch
  • Hymn
  • Psalm
  • Government
  • Treasurer
  • Chambers
  • Parliament
  • Cranium
  • Epidermis

Epi-= after

-dermis= skin

  • Larynx
  • Iris
  • Retina
  • Arsenic
  • Calcium
  • Copper
  • Helium
  • Hydrogen
  • Iodine
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Nitrogen
  • Oxygen
  • Phosphorous
  • Platinum
  • Pediatrician

Ped-= child

-iatr-= doctor


  • Gynecology

Gynec-= woman

-ology= study of


  3. Dunmore, Charles W., and Rita M. Fleischer. Studies in Etymology. 2nd ed. Newburyport, MA: Focus Publishing/ R. Pullins Company, 2008. Print.


Etymological processes

        Word creation

                Eponyms · Toponyms · Onomatopoeia · Reduplication · Blend · Back-formation

        Word evolution

                Phonological: Assimilation · Dissimilation · Metathesis

                Morphological: Folk etymology

                Semantic: Semantic widening · Semantic narrowing · Elevation · Degeneration · Metaphorical extension

Languages which have influenced English

        Latin · Greek · French · German · Spanish · Arabic · Old Norse · Proto-Indo-European

Special topics

        Shakespeare's impact on English · Origin and evolution of the alphabet