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Culture

Our Everyday Greek: Greek Words You Already Know: Starting from Geo, Γη

November 4, 2018
Dimitra Pontoporou

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.

 

  1. 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

 

  1. 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.

-GRAPHY

It comes from the Greek verb εγώ γράφω (eYO GRAfo) and the noun η γραφή (EE graFEE). They mean I write and the writing.

-LOGY

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.

-METRY

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.

 

  1. THE ENDING

RULE ONE

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).

RULE TWO

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.

RULE THREE

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).

 

VOCABULARY

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

 

PRONUNCIATION KEY

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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