Did you know there are many Greek words and phrases used in English conversation? Kudos to you if you knew that already. Kudos is one of those Greek imports. You may not have realized it before, but you’ve been learning Greek all your life!
Common Greek Words and Phrases Used in English
Many words and phrases used in everyday English speech are derived from the Greek language. Even our English alphabet derives from “alpha” and “beta,” the first two letters in the Greek alphabet.
Knowing Greek words and phrases may give you a head start if you decide to take conversational language lessons in Greek.
Democracy means the power of the people, from the Ancient Greek “demos” (people) and “kratos” (power).
In Ancient Greek, these often violent behemoths are deinos savra (terrible lizards).
Lucky miners during the California Gold Rush weren’t the first to utter this exclamation meaning “I have found it!” Famous Greek mathematician Archimedes beat them to it by roughly 2,000 years.
He yelled Eureka upon realizing that the water displaced in his bath was equal to the volume of the part doing the displacing. Legend says this discovery saved him from execution so that he may have had good reason for his excited utterance.
A museum was a shrine for the Muses, the nine ancient Greek goddesses who oversaw all arts and sciences. On a related note, music is quite literally one of the arts practiced by the Muses.
A phobia isn’t simply fear. It’s an extreme, irrational terror of something. If you have a phobia (whether of animals, situations, nature, or medicine), you can probably thank the Greek language for giving it a name. Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders, autophobia is the fear of being alone, barophobia is the fear of gravity, and mysophobia is the fear of germs.
There’s even a word that describes a phobia about having phobias — phobophobia!
Phonetics, meaning the sounds of a language, isn’t the only English word that starts with an “f” sound created by the Greek “ph.”
Interestingly, most words that start with a “ph” combo are Greek in origin. For example, philosophy employs a lovely turn of phrase, while philanthropy is more concerned with the physical realm than physicians and pharmacies.
These indispensable modern devices owe their name to the Ancient Greek “tele” (distance) and “phone” (sound). A few other English words that use this Greek prefix are telescope, television, and telegraph.
Microphone, megaphone, and xylophone all owe their names to the Greek suffix “phone.”
Are You Interested in Learning More Greek Words and Phrases?
If you are, you’ll enjoy practicing Greek with a native speaker while exploring Greek culture and customs. It’s like going to Greece without leaving the comfort of your home. Contact LanguageBird to get started learning Greek today!