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Greek Loanwords in English

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Greek Loanwords in English

The English language has borrowed extensively from the Greek language beginning during the Germanic period when many words borrowed from Latin were originally borrowed into Latin from Greek. English continued to borrow from Greek through Latin during the Old English period. However, most of the Greek loanwords in English were borrowed during the Early Modern English period by scholars, scientists, writers, and other highly educated English speakers. Thus, although English is a Germanic language, many common and everyday words as well as the vocabulary of specialized domains such as science including linguistics are of Greek origin.

List of Greek Loanwords

With all the loanwords borrowed from Greek into English, an exhaustive list would be too lengthy to be possible. The following are some of the commonly used Greek loanwords in English:

A

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  • academia
  • academy
  • acoustics
  • aesthetics
  • amnesia
  • analogy
  • analysis
  • analytic
  • anatomy
  • angel
  • anonymous
  • antagonist
  • antarctica
  • anthropology
  • antibiotic
  • antiseptic
  • apathy
  • apocalypse
  • archaeology
  • archipelago
  • architecture
  • arctic
  • armageddon
  • atmosphere
  • atom
  • autocracy
  • autograph

B

  • barbarian
  • bible
  • biology
  • butter

C

  • calligraphy
  • cannabis
  • catapult
  • catastrophe
  • category
  • catharsis
  • chamomile
  • character
  • charisma
  • chord
  • christ
  • chronology
  • clergy
  • cleric
  • clerk
  • climate
  • climax
  • comedy
  • contiguity
  • critic
  • cynic

D

  • data
  • democracy
  • demography
  • demon
  • diagnosis
  • diagonal
  • dialect
  • diameter
  • diamond
  • diaspora
  • dichotomy
  • dinosaur
  • disaster
  • dogma
  • dolphin
  • dragon

E

  • ecology
  • economics
  • ecstasy
  • eczema
  • electron
  • emblem
  • embryo
  • empathy
  • emphasis
  • encyclopedia
  • energy
  • ephemeral
  • epicenter
  • epilepsy
  • epiphany
  • epistemology
  • ethics
  • ethos
  • etiology
  • etymology
  • eucharist
  • euphoria

F

G

  • galley
  • genetics
  • geography
  • geometry
  • giant
  • grammar
  • gymnasium
  • gymnastics

H

  • harmony
  • hemisphere
  • hermeneutics
  • hero
  • hierarchy
  • hippopotamus
  • history
  • homonym
  • hormone
  • horoscope
  • hydraulics
  • hymn
  • hypnosis
  • hysteria

I

  • idiot

J

  • jealousy

K

  • kaleidoscope
  • kinesis

L

  • lexicography
  • lexicology
  • lexicon
  • lexis
  • lion
  • lithography
  • logic
  • lyrics

M

  • mania
  • maniac
  • marble
  • martyr
  • mathematics
  • mechanic
  • melody
  • mentor
  • metamorphosis
  • metaphor
  • meteorology
  • monarch
  • monarchy
  • monastery
  • monk
  • monogamy
  • monotheism
  • morpheme
  • morphology
  • museum
  • music
  • mythology

N

  • nausea
  • necromancy
  • nemesis
  • neurology
  • nostalgia

O

  • ocean
  • oceanography
  • octopus
  • optics
  • organ
  • organism
  • organization
  • orgasm
  • orthodoxy
  • ostracize

P

  • pain
  • paranoia
  • parasite
  • pasta
  • pathos
  • patriarch
  • phenomenon
  • philology
  • philosophy
  • phobia
  • phonograph
  • phonology
  • photograph
  • photography
  • piracy
  • placenta
  • plasma
  • plastic
  • pneumonia
  • poetry
  • prophet
  • protagonist
  • prototype
  • psyche
  • psychiatry
  • psychology
  • psychosis
  • pyramid

Q

  • quince

R

  • rhetoric
  • rhinoceros
  • rhombus
  • rhythm

S

  • scandal
  • schema
  • schizophrenia
  • school
  • scorpion
  • semantics
  • skeleton
  • sketch
  • sphere
  • stadium
  • stereotype
  • sycophant
  • syllogism
  • symbol
  • sympathy
  • symptom
  • synonym
  • syntax

T

  • taxonomy
  • theology
  • theory
  • thermodynamics
  • thesaurus
  • thesis
  • tragedy
  • typography

U

  • urethra

V

W

X

  • xenophobia
  • xylophone

Y

Z

  • zealot
  • zoology

Resources

Loanwords: Major Periods of borrowing in the history of English: http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~kemmer/Words/loanwords.html
Wikipedia: Greek Loanwords: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/category:greek_loanwords

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Written by Heather Johnson

Heather is a writer, librarian, linguist, wife, and mother who loves her husband, children, dogs, and cat. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in creative writing and master's degrees in library and information science and English studies with a concentration in linguistics.

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