Homer uses ἀτρύγετος as an epithet of the sea and sky. The etymology has traditionally been taken to be α participle formed from ἀ + τρυγάω, unharvested or barren, but Beekes says this is "formally not easy" and discusses a couple of other possibilities. What is it that doesn't work about this etymology?

1 Answer 1


If from τρυγάω, the expected form would be ἀτρύγητος, since in such formations the stem vowel is lengthened (and long α becomes η in Ionic). Chantraine tentatively mentions the possibility that ἀτρύγετος might be a shortening of this expected form metri causa, but that would be an irregular development.

  • Are there any other instances of eta to episolon made metri causa? I can think of a few instances of quantitative metathesis, but not like this (at least nothing is coming to mind).
    – cmw
    Commented Sep 27, 2021 at 3:43
  • @cmw I can't think of any offhand.
    – TKR
    Commented Sep 27, 2021 at 4:46
  • 2
    Thanks! I put a summary it the wiktionary entry: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ἀτρύγετος
    – user3597
    Commented Sep 27, 2021 at 15:38

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