During the Renaissance, too many new Latin and Greek words were borrowed in English. The Renaissance was a period of increased activity in almost every field. The re-discovery of Latin and Greek literature led to new activity in the modern English. Most of the classical words borrowed were ‘learned’ words- i.e. they were used in writing rather than in ordinary conversation. Some of this Greek words borrowed in the sixteenth century are alphabet, basic, chorus, drama, dilemma, epic, irony, pathos; from Latin are area, circus, ignorance, vagary etc.

Painting by Vikram Roy © 2012.

Most of these borrowings are based on the native formations of classical words, such as, attemptate, factuate, etc. Some classical words were simply taken over. A random list of nouns and adjectives and verbs would show among them: maturity, augmentation, garnish, strange, new etc.

Classical words have been invaluable to the English in terms of metaphysical and natural sciences- philology, zoology, biology, anthropology, anatomy, astronomy, philosophy, telephone (‘tele’ is distance and ‘phone’ is sound or voice), telegraph (‘graph’ is writing). Greek fragments like thermo, hyper, -logy, -nomy, are frequently added with new English words.

Greek scientific words are often used in English language- thermometer, perambulator, geology, astrology, astronomy etc. Greek and Latin suffixes and prefixes have considerably added with the English vocabulary- comrade, ex-king, bi-lingual, international, inter-state etc.

Classical formations were useful in getting new adjectives-

Nose- Nasal

Sun- Solar

Moon- Lunar

Father- Fatherly

Mother- Maternal

Brother- Brotherly


  Hybrids are formed with Greek and Latin suffixes and prefixes- starvation, talkative, (suffixes); admiration, mechanic, (prefixes). Jesperson has pointed out that “the classical words adopted since the Renaissance have enriched the English language and have specially increased the number of synonyms”.


Hi, I am Vikram, a friend of you! I would like to take this opportunity of personally welcoming you to my blog! You can read my book “The Alchemist A Mystery In Three Acts” Available now on Amazon.com : http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005IDUD4C Always love, Vikram Roy

8 responses »

  1. fromsonika says:

    interesting post 🙂

  2. Katy says:

    Love the artwork. Just beautiful.

  3. The new paradigm for reading is to use context clues to determine the meaning of strange or new words and employed by high schoolers. I have always railed at the foolishness of this expectation. The lives of teens in USA as so insulated from literature, history and geography they have no frame of reference from which to operate. Neither does the last 3 generations know their Latin and Greek roots as did my generation.

  4. flowerpoet says:

    Lovely drawing Vikram. I am always fascinated by the evolution of languages and communications between humans. I forsee much more melding of languages in the future and inexpensive palm translators that recognize spoken conversation and quickly translate into a fluent stream of communication for us. By the way, my cousin is co-founder of the international ‘Translators Without Borders’ to aid in global need.

  5. granbee says:

    Vikram, you have swept me off my feet and made me fall in love with your blog all over again with this fabulous post on English language borrowings from classical Greek and Latin. Such an addicted linguist am I. You gave me my “fix” here!

  6. Shimky says:

    Interesting posting. There’s always something new to learn. I’m still in awe of how the rise of the internet has enabled us all.

    Lovely painting!!

  7. Nice blog Vikram. Thanks for following mine!

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