top of page

Interesting Etymologies 49.3 : Greek







"Hello again Word Lovers!"


Part three for Greek as look into Greek words from mythology.


Theos was the word for God giving us the words such as Theology and atheism but this word went through Latin to become Zeus and then Dios in Spanish and Dieu in French.


Names of Gods:


Chronos The God of time, giving us chronic, pain over time, anachronism - something out of it's time and obviously chronometer.


Kairos: The God of perceived time, so the relative perception of time, if your team is winning or losing the match with one minute to go, your perception is very different.


Cosmos: The world and the order of things - Cosmopolitan, microcosm, cosmology


Europe: A mythological Princess, her name possibly coming from evrys - broad and ops - eye. Lovely big eyes!


We get the word Galaxy from the Greek word for milk - gala, galakt. Told in the story of the spilt breast milk that stained the night sky after Heracles tried to suckle at the breast of his step mother.


Hermaphrodites was the son of Hermes (Stone heap) and Aphrodite (sea foam). HE was fused together in perpetual love with the nymph Salmacis.


Narkissos - Narcissus, narcissistic to be in love with yourself. Despite his self indulgence, a nymph was still in love with him, and this unrequited love left her to wither away into nothingness, leaving only her voice. Her name was ekho - echo: a repeated sound.


Pan: The Great Goat God spread terror amongst the Nymphs. The etymology is unknown, but this word does give us the word Panic!


This is just a small taste of the many words that emerge from Greek mythology.


More Greek prefixes


Chroma : colour - chromo, chromatic


Cyclos : Wheel, circle - cyclone, encyclopdia, bicycle, cycle


Didonai, dosis : To give - dose, anecdote


Dynamis: Power - dynamite, dynasty


Eidos : form, thing seen - idol, kaleidoscope, anthropoid


Eu : well - euphemism, eulogy, euphonium


Metron : measure, mind - barometer, diameter


Pyr: fire - pyrography, pyrotechnics


Scopos: watcher - scope, microscope


Temno, Tomos - that which is cut off : epitome, anatomy


Barvs - heavy: baritone, barites


Biblos - book: Bible, bibliophile


Acrobat could possible come from akir (for tip or edge) and verb vaino - to walk


Dinosaur a terrible lizard deinos - terrible savra - lizard


Schizophrenia - from PIE root skei to cut, split, phren the heart and mind


Sycophant - sykophantes - false accuser, slanderer; one who shows figs (sykon - fig + painein - to show) Perhaps those who revealed the location of smuggled figs were frowned upon?


Marmalade - meli for honey and melon for apple


Cemetery is a Greek word : Koimeterion - sleeping place: koiman - to put to sleep, keimai - I lie down.


Cynicism - Charly states it means "like a dog" and if you want to follow that fascinating story you will need to listen to the show on YouTube or on the podcast.


Melancholy - melas (black) and khole - bile (also root of cholera)


Music means of the muses and the original shrine to the muses was called a museum


Planet derives from the Greek word "to wander" as the stars were fixed but the planets moved across the night sky


Sarcasm is from the Greek. Sarx meaning flesh and with casm to create the metaphor of the tearing of flesh.


Thespian, the old word for an actor from Thespis, a poet from Icaria. His name meant inspired by the Gods (Theos again!)






Explore the full Interesting Etymologies series archive here













As well as being the host of our Interesting Etymologies series, Charly Taylor is a stand up comedian and author. His latest offering is available now:


SkipDeLirio's Worst Ever Gig : A novel by Charly Taylor


Caesar’s army has returned from the long campaign in Gaul and the enemy has been all but defeated. Some of Pompey’s army, however, remains in Africa. Together with straggling Roman rebels and the local king Juba, they are gathering forces to prepare one last attack on what is now Caesar’s Rome. But there is one problem – a descendant of Scipio Africanus is fighting on the side of the Africans. And without a Scipio of their own, the superstitious Romans refuse to go to Africa to fight.


So Caesar sends out soldiers to find himself a Scipio. Luckily, there is a man of such name right there in Rome – a local drunkard and tavern entertainer distantly descended from the legendary warrior. Kidnapped solely on account of his ‘heritage’, the lowly clown is forced to lead out the troops in the battle of Thapsus. There, ‘history’ tells us, Scipio ‘disappears from the historical record’.


Until now.


This is the story of how ‘Nobody’ Skip DeLirio, with the cards finally all dealt in his favour, still managed to fuck it up. History will only take you so far. The rest is make-believe.


Order your copy here

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page