Our Everyday Greek: Greek Words you Already Know: Γη and Gyros

November 18, 2018
Dimitra Pontoporou

«Η Γη γυρίζει γύρω από τον άξονά της.» Can you understand this Greek phrase? You may not realize it, but you are already familiar with each single word of this phrase, because somehow, they are used in the English language.

From the word ηγη comes the prefix geo-, which is found in many English words, like geometry, geography, geology etc. The word,γη,like most words that refer to the earth sciences, are considered of feminine grammatical gender. Therefore, they take the article η.

The words γυρίζω and γύρω are familiar to you, because they are related to the international word gyros, the typical Greek wrap with souvlaki and potatoes inside. Gyros is in Greek ογύρος and derives from the verb εγώγυρίζω, which means I turn around.
The word γύρω is the adverb, which means around.

The preposition από is familiar to you, because it is found in several English words as a prefix (apo+strophe, Apo+calypse). It means from, off and the word that follows defines the starting point.
Οάξονας in modern Greek, οάξων in ancient Greek, is the English word axis, which comes from Greek.
Consequently, the phrase «ΗΓηγυρίζειγύρωαπότονάξονάτης. » means “The earth rotates on its axis.”

«Ο γύρος του κόσμου σε ογδόντα ημέρες.» This is the title of Jules Verne’s novel and of the well-known Hollywood movie. Can you translate this phrase? Can you understand the words? You may not know it, but they are familiar to you from similar English words. Ογύροςis the round (trip).
Cosmos is a Greek word. It means the world, the earth or the universe, or many people. We also say in Greek: «Έχωκόσμοστοσπίτι.» (=I have people at home, invited). «Οκόσμοςμας» (=our world, our society, our earth).Τουκόσμου is the genitive case, which means of something: the round of the world.
Ογδόντα is a number and means eighty. It derives from number eight (οκτώ=okTO). It is familiar to you from English words like octopus, or octahedron. Octopus is a compound word from octo (οκτώ) + pus (πους = the ancient Greek word for the leg). In ancient Greek it was called όκταπους>οκταπόδι>χταπόδι, in modern Greek. It means the sea animal with the eight legs. Octahedron is a compound word from the number octo (οκτώ) + edra (έδρα). Edra(έδρα) is the side of a geometrical form. It means the geometrical form with the eight sides.
Ηημέρα is the day and οιημέρεςare the days. It isprobably familiar to you from the word καλημέρα, acompound one, which means a good day and we use it for goodmorning. The word ημέραexists in English in the word Ephemeroptera, (Eph+ emera + ptera). Ptera (πτερά, φτερά) are the wings in Greek. The term refers to insects that live only one day.
“Round trip of the world in eighty days” or “around the world in eighty days.”

Greek word Pronunciation Meaning
Η γη EE YEE the earth
Εγώγυρίζω eYOyiREEzo I turn around
Η γηγυρίζει EE YEE giREEzi the earth turns around
Γύρω YEEro around
Από aPO from
Ο άξονας O Axonas the axis (nominative case)
Τονάξονα TON Axona the axis (accusative case)
Της tees her, of (her)
Ογύρος O YEEros the round, the souvlaki wrap
Οκόσμος O KOsmos the world
Τουκόσμου TOO KOsmoo of the world
Σε SE in
Ογδόντα oGDOnta eighty
Ημέρες iMEres days

i (idiom), ee (needle), e (energy), o (organism), oo (boot), y (yes), h (helium), th (theory), d (the). The capitalized syllables are accented.


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