How would one best translate ab and de from Latin to Greek in order to capture the different nuances?

In Greek both are usually translated as από.

I am trying to capture the nuances so I am using etymology but I always get told that I commit to the Etymological fallacy.

  • Since I don't mind the etymological fallacy too much, consideringing homonym, polysemous German ab, comparing anti, ago, and eventually considering below allusions to Aristotle, I want to mention category (uncertain ety, how interesting) and recommend kata. I do mind enough not to post that as an answer. Just note that modern apo translates as runter ~ "down, off" in various cases (off of the horse, even runter vom Platz "off of the palazo"). Also Cp derivation, aberration.
    – vectory
    Commented Feb 18, 2020 at 20:41
  • @vectory But κατά would always mean against. Καταγωγή would always mean the origin. Απαγωγή could be abduction or deduction but Καταγωγή would be(and currently is) origin. Commented Feb 18, 2020 at 20:45
  • Wiktionary glosses "[2. (with accusative)] 6. according to", thus cp de legis. I was chiefly refering to kata, kato "down", anyhow, unaware of against. That does not fit very well (and my, err, derivation is a non-secitur). But since de is highly polysemous, I should think the question is not narrow enough?
    – vectory
    Commented Feb 18, 2020 at 21:15

1 Answer 1


The two alternative forms Ἀθήνηθεν and ἀπὸ Άθηνῶν have been virtually interchangeable, as you may ascertain from a diachronic text search. St Paul used the latter, of course, but would never use the former -- too archaic. The further back you go, the more the former predominates (down to Ἀθήνῃθεν).

That is to say the primary two meanings of ἀπό:

  • motion away from

  • origin of all kinds

but not

  • far from

  • after time, since,

seem to be accessed by both words, and appear to not follow the Latin usage split linked in the comment, such as it might well have been...

  • What were the words used by Aristotle for Abduction and Deduction respectively then? Did he use Απαγωγή; Did he use Επαγωγή; Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 17:32
  • Frankly, I don't know. If you gave me exact passages, I'd run to them, and so might you. I believe from memory, the Alexandrian mathematicians, and current practice (!), that his Ἐπαγωγή got translated to Inductio and his Ἀπαγωγή to Reductio. Will scan the TLG and Perseus. Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 18:34
  • Arist.APr.69a20: ἡ εἰς τὸ ἀδύνατον ἀπαγωγή : reductio per impossibile . In the Logic of Aristotle, ἐπαγωγή: argument by induction. Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 19:31
  • Further facts (best available): A's ἀπαγωγή is also translated as abduction; it is his συλλογισμός that gets translated to deduction. Aristotle and his translations have swirled around long enough to render any linguistic systematic correspondence moot, here. Are you perhaps more interested in Aristotelian terminology or in the usage of -θεν vs. ἀπό ? Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 19:51
  • Neither. I am interesented in a correspondence( which has been rendered moot) and 2 distinct words to capture the diferent nuances of ab and de(which as you told me don't exist there is no single word distinction in greek between motion away from and origin of all kinds). If anything I would lean towards Aristotelian terminology though. Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 23:08

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