People who speak the Western world languages use many Greek words every day without knowing it. Though they may think or say: “I can’t remember Greek words, because I cannot combine them with anything.” “Greek is not similar to any other language.”, the reality is that many English words derive and/or are compound from Greek ones.
Consequently, it will be easier to acquire, remember, and enrich your vocabulary in Greek, if we bring into your attention these words, their etymology and their meaning in Greek. In the next series of articles, we will present English words that come from Greek categorized into thematic groups. Additionally, we will show how you can use them in everyday life phrases.
- THE PREFIX GEO- MEANS EARTH
The English prefix geo-, which in Greek is γεω-, comes from the Greek noun η Γη (YEE), which means the Earth. Ancient Greeks had the goddess Gaia (YEa), the Mother Earth.
The earth was also called Δη, therefore, the name of the Olympus goddess Δήμητρα (Demeter) is compound from Δη + μήτρα = Earth + mother, womb.
Μήτηρ was called in ancient Greek the mother (see De+meter). Μητέρα is called in modern Greek the mother. Μήτρα is the womb.
VOCABULARY FROM GEO-
English word Greek word Pronunciation
Geography η γεωγραφία EE geograFEEa
geographer ο γεωγράφος O geoGRAfos
geographic γεωγραφικός geographiKOS
geographical γεωγραφικός geografiKOS
Geology η γεωλογία EE geoloYEEa
geologist ο γεωλόγος O geoLOyos
geologic γεωλογικός geoloyiKOS
geological γεωλογικός geoloyiKOS
Geometry η γεωμετρία EE geomeTREEa
geometer ο γεωμέτρης O geoMEtris
geometric γεωμετρικός geometriKOS
geometrical γεωμετρικός geometriKOS
- THE SUFFIX IS A GREEK WORD
Many English words of disciplines end in -logy, or in -graphy, or in -metry. They all come from Greek verbs.
It comes from the Greek verb εγώ γράφω (eYO GRAfo) and the noun η γραφή (EE graFEE). They mean I write and the writing.
It comes from the Greek verb εγώ λέω (eYO LEo) and the noun ο λόγος (O LOyos). The verb means I say, I tell, I talk about and the noun means the talk.
It comes from the Greek verb εγώ μετράω (eYO meTRAo) and the noun το μέτρο (TO MEtro). The verb means I count, I measure and the noun means the measure, the meter.
- THE ENDING
A general rule is that Greek nouns that refer to a discipline usually end in -ια, while in English end in -y. Therefore, the discipline is: γεωγραφ-ία, γεωλογ-ία, γεωμετρ-ία (geograph-y, geolog-y, geometr-y).
The words that refer to the relevant scientist usually end in -ος, while in English end in -ist or in -er. Ο γεωγράφος, ο γεωλόγος (the geographer, the geologist), but ο γεωμέτρης (=the geometer). Note the connection between the ending -τρης in the Greek word γεωμέτρης and the ending -ter in the English word geometer.
The relevant adjectives end in -ικος, while in English end in -ic or -ical: γεωγραφικός, γεωλογικός, γεωμετρικός (geographic or geographical, geologic or geological, geometric or geometrical).
Greek word Pronunciation Meaning
Η Γαία EE YEa Gaia (goddess)
Η γη EE YEE the earth
Η μητέρα EE miTEra the mother
Η μήτρα EE MEEtra the womb
Εγώ γράφω eYO GRAfo I write
Η γραφή EE GRAfee the writing
Εγώ λέω eYO LEo I say
Ο λόγος O LOyos the speech, the talk, the reason
Εγώ μετράω eYO meTRAo I count, I measure
το μέτρο TO Metro the measure, the meter
με ME with
i (idiom), ee (needle), e (energy), o (organism), oo (boot), y (yes), h (helium), th (theory), d (the). The capitalized syllables are accented.