I was recently linked to this post on False Cognates, discussing different verb classes in Latin, Greek, and Germanic.

One part caught my eye:

Latin verbs of all conjugations are borrowed easily (in several different ways, as I shall describe) but Greek verbs aren’t even borrowed into Latin unless they contain the suffix -ίζω. I have not yet found a counterexample to this.

I had never really thought about this before, but I can't think of any Greek→Latin or Greek→English borrowings without -ίζω either. Given how productive -ίζω's descendants are in English, and how often Greek noun and adjective roots were borrowed for science and medicine, I would have expected other Greek verbs to show up as well. But not a single one comes to mind.

Are there any attested instances of Ancient Greek verbs without -ίζω being borrowed into either Latin or English? If not, are there any sources (Ancient or Modern) discussing this lack in greater detail?

(NB: I'm interested in verbs borrowed as verbs, without noun-forming suffixes added. For instance "miasma" is derived from the Greek verb μιαίνω, but only exists in English and Latin as a noun: there is no verb *miaenāre or *"mienate".)

  • Does analyze count? It only became a verb after being imported from Latin as a noun (analysis < αναλυσις < αναλυειν)
    – brianpck
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 23:45
  • @brianpck That's very interesting! Unfortunately, I don't think so; what I'm looking for here are words being borrowed directly from Greek verbs, without -sis or -m(a) or similar noun-deriving morphemes attached.
    – Draconis
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 23:52
  • N.B. Almost all Latin verbs in English are from suffixed (or suffigated) forms too, mostly supine stems. Cf. also how the Latin suffix -io was hardly ever attached to the plain verbal stem in Latin, but almost always to the supine stem. Although the supine stem is in some relevant aspects different from Greek verbal -iz- stems.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 0:12
  • @Cerberus Very true. But some English verbs from Latin present stems immediately come to mind, such as descend and confer; I can't think of any from Greek. Forms from the supine stem are also often borrowed as verbs, especially Latin first conjugation → English verbs in -ate; Greek forms like thesis and schism are fundamentally nouns in Latin and English.
    – Draconis
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 0:18
  • 2
    Encrypt comes to mind.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 0:38

1 Answer 1


Since your question requests verbs not in -izo brought into either Latin or English, my question will focus on the former. My brute force approach was to search for verbs in the Perseus dictionary which contain Greek giveaway letters (e.g. y, ch, and th) and then to use common sense to filter them. I have tried to limit myself to verbs with classical examples (excluding, for example, syncopo and lyo):

  • (de/per-)bacchor: to celebrate the festival of Bacchus
  • chălo: to slacken, let down
  • contechnor: to devise plots, contrive tricks
  • eunūcho: to make a eunuch of, to unman
  • (re-)gȳro: to turn round in a circle, wheel round
  • lympho: I. To water, dilute with water, II. To drive out of one's senses, to distract with fear, to make mad
  • māchĭnor: to contrive skilfully, to devise, design, frame, invent
  • moechor: to commit adultery

I can think of two English verbs formed from the supine stem of Latin verbs in the above list:

  • machinate
  • gyrate

I am still not entirely sure that I understand the OP's criteria: please clarify in the comments if any or all of these don't qualify.

  • The idea is that the Greek word from which it is derived was also a verb, and the Latin/English verb should not contain nominal suffixes. Chalo qualifies. Bacchor, contechnor, gyro, moechor may qualify.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 0:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.