greek


adjective

  1. of or relating to Greece, the Greeks, or their language.
  2. pertaining to the Greek Orthodox Church.
  3. noting or pertaining to the alphabetical script derived from a Semitic form of writing, employing some letters that originally represented consonants for use as vowel sounds, which was used from about the beginning of the first millennium b.c. for the writing of Greek, and from which the Latin, Cyrillic, and other alphabets were derived.

noun

  1. a native or inhabitant of Greece.
  2. the language of the ancient Greeks and any of the languages that have developed from it, as Hellenistic Greek, Biblical Greek, the Koine, and Modern Greek. Abbreviation: Gk, Gk.
  3. Informal. anything unintelligible, as speech, writing, etc.: This contract is all Greek to me.
  4. a member of the Greek Orthodox Church.
  5. Hellenic(def 3).
  6. a person who belongs to a Greek-letter fraternity or sorority.
  7. Archaic: Usually Offensive. a cheater, especially one who cheats at cards.

noun

  1. the official language of Greece, constituting the Hellenic branch of the Indo-European family of languagesSee Ancient Greek, Late Greek, Medieval Greek, Modern Greek
  2. a native or inhabitant of Greece or a descendant of such a native
  3. a member of the Greek Orthodox Church
  4. informal anything incomprehensible (esp in the phrase it’s (all) Greek to me)
  5. Greek meets Greek equals meet

adjective

  1. denoting, relating to, or characteristic of Greece, the Greeks, or the Greek language; Hellenic
  2. of, relating to, or designating the Greek Orthodox Church
n.

Old English Grecas, Crecas (plural), early Germanic borrowing from Latin Graeci “the Hellenes,” from Greek Grakoi. Aristotle, who was the first to use Graikhos as equivalent to Hellenes (“Meteorologica” I.xiv), wrote that it was the name originally used by Illyrians for the Dorians in Epirus, from Graii, native name of the people of Epirus.

But a modern theory (put forth by German classical historian Georg Busolt, 1850-1920), derives it from Graikhos “inhabitant of Graia” (literally “gray”), a town on the coast of Boeotia, which was the name given by the Romans to all Greeks, originally to the Greek colonists from Graia who helped found Cumae (9c. B.C.E.), the important city in southern Italy where the Latins first encountered Greeks. Under this theory, it was reborrowed in this general sense by the Greeks.

The Germanic languages originally borrowed the word with an initial -k- sound (cf. Old High German Chrech, Gothic Kreks), which probably was their initial sound closest to the Latin -g- at the time; the word was later refashioned.

It was subtle of God to learn Greek when he wished to become an author — and not to learn it better. [Nietzsche, “Beyond Good and Evil,” 1886]

Meaning “the Greek language” is from late 14c.; meaning “unintelligible speech, gibberish” is from c.1600. Meaning “Greek letter fraternity member” is student slang, 1900.

adj.

late 14c., from Greek (n.). Earlier Gregeis (c.1300), from Old French Gregois; also Greekish (Old English Grecisc). In venery, “anal,” by 1970. Greek gift is from “Æneid,” II.49: “timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.”

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