ETYMOLOGY AND GREEK

The American Institute for English Proficiency can help you improve your English vocabulary.  It’s good to know, therefore, that English borrows a lot from different languages.  One such language is Greek.

How did this happen?  Well, in 331 BC the Greek-speaking King of Macedonia, Alexander the Great, conquered many of the lands in the Mediterranean and Middle East.  This spread Greek language and culture all across that area. It remained the common language of that area even after the Romans came and conquered hundreds of years after Alexander. It was even the language that the Christian Apostles and Evangelists chose for writing the New Testament.

Image: iit.edu

Image: iit.edu

In addition to this, many Greeks were also some of the world’s leading scientists, philosophers, and artists.  Their language would then become important in Western academic traditions, and like Latin, Greek was also a language of the learned.

Because of this, many English words derive from Greek.  A lot of them do this by employing prefixes or suffixes based on Greek words. Here is a list of some examples:

autos means “self”; it gives us English words like automatic, automobile, autonomous.

bios means “life”; it gives us English words like biology, biography and biotechnology.

Chronos is the name of the Greek god of time; it gives us the English words like chronology, chronicle, and chronic.

demos means “people”; it gives us the English words like democracy, demography, and demogogue.

ge means “earth” or “sphere”; it gives us the English words like geography, geometry, and geology are derived from it.

grapho means “to write” or “to communicate”; it gives us English words like photograph, graphic, and autograph.

kratos means “to rule”; it gives us English words like aristocracy, plutocracy, and autocracy.

phos means “light”; it gives us English words like photosensitive, photosynthesis, and photovoltaic.

theos means “God” or “god”; it gives us English words like theologyatheist, and pantheon.

These are only some examples of the huge number of Greek terms that are now used in English. Try using them when you practice your English! And if you want to learn more English vocabulary, enroll at the American Institute for English Proficiency in Makati and Quezon City, Philippines!