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The Journey of Latin and Greek

Wordy Weekly XXXVI

You may remember that this is part II of the wordy weeklies looking at Latin and Greek derivatives in languages other than English. We travel a little further afield this week.


DIE AKRIBIE – from the ancient Greek ἀκριβεία meaning ‘accuracy’ or ‘exactness’ as the German derivative does.


VASILII (василий) – The name ‘Vasilii’ in Russian is the same name as Basil, and yes, the same word for the wonderful herb. Ultimately, both comes from the Greek word βασίλευς meaning ‘king’. Basil is the king of herbs. The Greek beta became a ‘v’ in Russian; look at the Russian letter and beta: В (Russian) and β (Greek). The letters V, B, P, and F are all closely related in languages believed to derive from the hypothesised proto-Indo-European parent language.


ABERTO – from the Latin ‘apertus’ meaning open. Compare also the infinitives: ABRIR - ‘aperire’. The final -e has been dropped and the ‘p’ has hardened into a ‘b’.

TUMULTO – tumultus. The Portuguese word means ‘turmoil’, the Latin ‘riot’.

CIRURGIÃO – the Portuguese word for ‘surgeon’ comes from the Greek χειρουργος, meaning ‘one who works by hand’, but also ‘surgeon’.


AFRODIZIJAK is basically the same word as ‘aphrodisiac’, something, generally food or drink, which stimulates sexual desire. Both come from the Greek ‘τὰ ἀφροδίσια’ – matters of love, or sexual desire, the adjective ἀφροδίσιος, stemming from Ἀφροδίτη, Aphrodite, goddess of love (Roman Venus).

EPISKOP is the Croatian for ‘bishop’, and our word comes from late church Latin episcopus. The word is borrowed from Greek ἐπισκοπος, meaning an ‘overseer’, ‘lookout’, or ‘guardian’. We also get the word ‘episcopalian’ (‘of or relating to bishops’, or relating to the Protestant Episcopal Church’) from the Greek. We see here a link between B and P, just as we saw between, B and V. This link is also shown in the Greek name ‘Philippos’, which was pronounced ‘Bilippos’ in Macedonian Greek.

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