Posted by: Jack Henry | April 30, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Greek Roots

Good morning!

This is part of a longer article about Greek words, from Daily Writing Tips. Last week, I talked about pandemics and epidemics, this week I have some more words with Greek roots. For the full article and list, see Daily Writing Tips.

1. acrobat
This circus performer who demonstrates feats of physical agility by climbing to the very top of the rope gets his name from the Greek words “high” and “walk,” with the sense of “rope dancer” and “tip-toe.”

2. bacterium
From a Greek word that means “stick” because under a microscope (another Greek word), some bacteria look like sticks.

3. cemetery
The Greek word koimeterion meant “sleeping place, dormitory.” Early Christian writers adopted the word for “burial ground,” and that’s why college students stay in the dormitory and not in the cemetery. [KC–And in modern Greece, the cemetery is called a

νεκροταφείο (pronounced nekro-ta-fee-o), and yes, you probably recognize the prefix “necro,” as in necromancy or necropolis.]

4. dinosaur
You may have heard this one before. Our word for these ancient reptiles is a modern (1841) combination of the Greek words for “terrible” and “lizard.

5. hippopotamus
The ancient Greeks called this large, moist African animal a hippopótamos, from the words for “horse” and “river.” In other words, river horse.

6. rhinoceros
Continuing our African theme, this large, dry African animal is named after the Greek words for “nose” and “horn.” Horns usually don’t grow on noses.

7. economy
The Greek word for “household administration” has been expanded to mean the management of money, goods, and services for an entire community or nation. But “economical” still refers to personal thrift.

8. planet
The ancient Greeks get blamed for everything wrong with astronomy before the Renaissance, but they were astute enough to notice that while most stars stood still, some wandered from year to year. The word planet comes from the Greek word for “wandering.”

9. grammatical
Speaking of grammar, the Ancient Greek word grammatike meant “skilled in writing.” Now it means “correct in writing.”

A combination of Ancient Greek words that mean “together” and “arrangement.” Syntax is how words are arranged together.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

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