Greek Language Blog

Word families in Greek: Part One Posted by on Jul 7, 2020 in Vocabulary

Γειά σας! Today’s topic deals with word families in the Greek language.

Φωτογραφία από Manfred Richter από το Pixabay

Word families are important and extremely useful because they provide us with an easy and fun way to expand our vocabulary and enhance our understanding of the structure of the Greek language. What is more, they can help us immensely in mastering and improving our spelling.

In Greek, we say that all words that come from the same simple word, no matter how they are constructed or derived from it, comprise a family (οικογένεια λέξεων), and they are relatives to each other (συγγενικές λέξεις). We can include simple or compound words, derivatives, diminutives, or different parts of speech in one family, no matter how diverse their meaning is.

For example: in the family of the word γράφω (= write), we can have derivatives, such as γραφή, γραφέας, γραφείο, and compound words, such as υπογράφω, παραγράφω, καταγράφω, υπογραφή, καταγραφή, συγγραφέας, τυπογραφείο, γραφίδα. All of these words belong to the same family of words that relate one way or another to γράφω.

It is important to know and be able to discern the word families, or at least some of the most common ones. Let’s examine some commonly used word families.

  • αγωγή (= guidance, education): παιδαγωγός (pedagogue, educator), νηπιαγωγείο (kindergarten), ψυχαγωγία (entertainment), διαγωγή (conduct, behavior), εισαγωγή (admission, importation), εξαγωγή (exportation, extraction), προαγωγή (promotion), παραγωγή (production), καταγωγή (ancestry, origins), ανάγωγος (impolite), υδραγωγείο (aqueduct), μεταγωγικό (transport helicopter), οχηματαγωγό (ferryboat), κ.α.

  • αισθάνομαι (= feel, sense): αίσθηση (feel), διαίσθηση (intuition), συναίσθηση, αίσθημα (emotion), συναίσθημα (feeling), αναίσθητος (unconscious, emotionless), αναισθησία (anesthesia, insensitivity), ευαίσθητος (sensitive), ευαισθησία (sensitivity), παραίσθηση (hallucination), προαίσθημα (feeling, premonition), ψευδαίσθηση (illusion), κ.α.

  • βίος (= ζωή = life): βιογραφία (biography), βιολογία (biology), βιοψία (biopsy), μικρόβιο (germ), αντιβιοτικό (antibiotic), βιοπορισμός (livelihood), βιοπάλη (hard work), βιοτεχνία (small business), βιομηχανία (industry), κ.α.

  • γη (= earth): γήινος (earthly), γήπεδο (field, court), γεωργία (agriculture), γεωργός (agriculturist), γεωλόγος (geologist), γεωγραφία (geography), γεωμετρία (geometry), γεώτρηση (borehole), υδρόγειος (globe), επίγειος (terrestrial), απόγειο (highest point, apogee), ισόγειο (ground-floor), απογείωση (takeoff), Μεσόγειος (Mediterranean), κ.α.


Φωτογραφία από Hin und wieder gibts mal was. από το Pixabay

  • δείχνω (= to show): δείγμα (sample), δείκτης (index, indicator), ένδειξη (clue), απόδειξη (evidence, receipt), υπόδειξη (suggestion), ανάδειξη (emergence, nomination), παράδειγμα (example), σελιδοδείκτης (bookmark), ανεμοδείκτης (weather-vane), αποδεικνύω (to prove), υποδεικνύω (to suggest), κ.α.

  • δήμος (= λαός = the people): δημοκρατία (democracy), δημοκρατικός (democrat), δημότης (citizen, resident of a town), δήμαρχος (mayor), δημαρχείο (city hall), επιδημία (epidemic), δημοψήφισμα (referendum), δημοπρασία (auction), δημοτικότητα (publicity), δήμιος (headsman), δημεύω (to garnishee), αποδημώ (to migrate), αποδημητικός (emigrant), ενδημικός (indigenous), δημαγωγός (demagogue), κ.α.

  • δυσ- (= difficult, bad): δύσκολο (difficult), δυσάρεστο (unpleasant), δυστυχία (unhappiness), δυσκολία (difficulty), δύσχρηστος (not easy to use), δύστροπος (unkind, bad-tempered), δυσχέρεια (distress), δυσφήμιση (discredit), δυστοπία (dystopia), δυσαρμονία (discordance), δυσπραγία (misery), κ.α.

  • ήθος (= morals): ηθικός (ethic), ανήθικος (immoral), ηθοποιός (actor), κακοήθεια (malignity), καλοήθεια (benignity), συνήθεια (habit), συνηθίζω (to get used to), συνηθισμένος (usual), κ.α.

  • ημέρα (= day): σήμερα (today), καθημερινά (daily), μεσημέρι (afternoon), ξημέρωμα (dawn), ενημέρωση (briefing), εφημερίδα (newspaper), ημερομηνία (date), ημερολόγιο (calendar, diary), ημερομίσθιο (wage), αυθημερόν (same-day), ολοήμερο (all-day), πενθήμερο (five-day), δεκαήμερο (ten-day), κ.α.

Word families, thus, are a very useful tool to expand our vocabulary and at the same time, be sure about the spelling of the new words that we learn. Although the meaning of each word can deviate a lot from the simple word that a family originates, still knowledge of the word family helps us a lot in understanding what the new words mean.

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About the Author: Ourania

Ourania lives in Athens. She holds a degree in French Literature and a Master’s degree in Special Education for Children. Since 2008, she has been teaching Greek to foreigners.


  1. R Deutsch:

    I love this post!! So so helpful. (I hope that there’s not only a part 2 but a part 3, 4 and more!) This is something I’ve always wanted to see. Do you know where Greek language learners can find more on word families in Greek — a book, website?

  2. Rena:

    Thank you! I loved this post – it was super helpful! Can you tell us where we can find more “word families” in Greek? (book, website?)

    • Ourania:

      @Rena Thanks, I will check this out and get back with more information!