15 Beautiful Words That Will Make You Fall in Love With the Greek Languageairport_transferbarbathtubbusiness_facilitieschild_activitieschildcareconnecting_roomcribsfree_wifigymhot_tubinternetkitchennon_smokingpetpoolresturantski_in_outski_shuttleski_storagesmoking_areaspastar

15 Beautiful Words That Will Make You Fall in Love With the Greek Language

Empty sea at sunset |  © Horia Varlan / Flickr
Empty sea at sunset | © Horia Varlan / Flickr
With over 3,400 years of documented history, the Greek language has strongly influenced the Western world. It is widely spoken in many places beyond the Mediterranean Basin, and Greek roots are often used to coin new words in many languages. Here are 11 words that’ll make you fall head over heels with the Greek language.

ελπίδα (el-pee-da) / hope

Elpida comes from the ancient Greek ἐλπίς (elpis), which, in Greek mythology, was the personification of hope, often depicted as a young woman. Nowadays, Elpida, just like Hope, is a common name for women.

χαρμολύπη (char-mo-lee-pee) / joyful mourning, sweet sorrow

Charmolipi is actually a compound word. Composed of the word joy and sorrow or sadness, it is one of the tough Greek words that cannot be translated literally, but it conveys the idea of having mixed feelings about something.

υγεία (ee-yee-a) / health

The Greek word ygeia is connected to Hygieia or Hygeia, the goddess of good health, cleanliness, and sanitation. The word has given us the word hygiene, which is connected to the concept of cleanliness, health and medicine. The greeting formula used in modern Greek “Geia sou/geia sas” literally means “Your health” and was used as a way to wish someone well before it became a colloquial form of greeting.

ίριδα (ee-ree-da) / iris

The modern Greek word irida comes from Iris, the goddess of the rainbow which connects heaven to earth. It is said that she had beautiful wings and a coat of many colors, which would leave a trace when she would carry a message from the gods of Mount Olympus to earth. Her name later gave the meaning to the word rainbow in ancient Greek, from which the English word iridescent derives.

ευτυχία (ef-tee-hee-a) / happiness

This word is composed of the root eu-, which means good and τύχη (tyhi) meaning luck or good fortune. The word also translates to mean contentment, which some might say is the truest form of happiness.

αιώνια (e-o-nia) / eternity

This word comes from the ancient Greek word aion, which means epoch. In English, it has give us the word eon, which means an indefinite or long period of time, or which designates one of the largest division of geologic time. In astronomy, eon is the equivalent of one billion years.

νοσταλγία (nos-tal-gee-a) / nostalgia, homesickness

The word nostalgia which gives nostalgia or nostalgic in English is a compound word. It is the combination of the ancient Greek word nostos, which means return home or homecoming and the word algos, a Homeric Greek (a literary language) word which means ache, pain. Algos serves as the root for the English word analgesic, which is formed with the an- (without) + algos (pain)).

ψυχή (psee-hee) / soul

The word psyhi, which gave the English word psyche, comes from the ancient Greek verb ψῡ́χω (psyho, to blow) and means spirit. It is connected to Psyche, the heroine of the myth Eros and Psyche, a love story where the two lovers have to overcome a series of obstacles standing in the way of their union. The story has often been interpreted as an allegory for the soul redeeming itself through love.

φιλότιμο (fi-lo-tee-mo) / self-sacrifice

One of the hardest to translate Greek words, filotimo is the concept of putting others (or the greater good) before yourself. It involves a sense of courage, self-sacrifice, and honor. In short, doing something with filotimo means you are doing something right and honorable even if it is against your own interests.

αγάπη (a-ga-pee) / love

In ancient Greek, there are many different words for love. Agapi is considered to be the love a husband and a wife have for one another, or the love that unites parents and their children, or even Christians to God. The modern Greek word έρωτας (erotas) usually means intimate love, which has a romantic or sexual nature, whereas φιλία (filia) refers to affection and friendship.

µεράκι (me-ra-kee) / passion or absolute devotion

One of the hardest words to translate, to do something with meraki means to put “a part of your soul” into what you’re doing. The root of this word is merak, a Turkish word borrowed from Arabic, which has various meanings, including “intense love and care for something, especially an activity”.