Exypnos explains: Prepositional prefixes

Numerous words in English are formed using prefixes derived from Greek prepositions:

ανα – up, back – as in anachronism

δια – through, between, apart – as in diagonal

επι – on, over – as in epidemic

κατα – down – as in catastrophe

μετα – with, after (can denote change) – as in metamorphosis

συν – with – as in synthesis

‛υπο – under – as in hypodermic

What examples can you think of?

Exypnos the cockerel

Exypnos the cockerel


Exypnos explains: The meaning of number

The Greek word αριθμος means number (hence arithmetic). Here are some Greek numbers:

‛εις, μια, ‛εν – one
δυο – two
τρεις, τρια – three
τεσσαρες, τεσσαρα – four
πεντε – five
‛εξ – six
‛επτα – seven
οκτω – eight
εννεα – nine
δεκα – ten

Notice how many of these numbers are used in English words like tripod, pentathlon, octopus and decade.

‛εκατον – 100
χιλιοι – 1000
μυριοι – 10000

A hecatomb was a sacrifice of 100 cattle on special occasions. The word myriad is used to refer to countless numbers.

Exypnos the cockerel

Exypnos the cockerel

Exypnos explains: Grimm’s Law

Exypnos the cockerel

Exypnos the cockerel

Some consonants have changed in a systematic way between Greek (and Latin) and Germanic languages (of which English is a branch) – this is known as Grimm’s Law. In words which are derived (borrowed) from Greek the consonants remain unchanged, but in words which are cognate (derived from a common ancestor) they change as follows:

β = p  γ = c (k)  δ = t  θ = d  κ = h  π = f  τ = th  φ = b  χ = g

Here are some examples of words showing the shift in consonants:

Greek       Latin       English

γενος        genus      kin

δεκα         decem     ten

εδω           edo          I eat

πατηρ       pater       father

τρεις         tres          three

φερω        fero         I bear