Meaning of Greek in English:


Pronunciation /ɡriːk/

Translate Greek into Spanish


  • Relating to Greece, its people, or their language.

    Compare with Hellenic

    ‘I found that my local public library has a half-dozen Greek language programs with cassette tapes and books that borrowers can take home.’
    • ‘There is a brief introduction to Greece and Greek civilisation.’
    • ‘The visitor to Greece rarely leaves without experiencing Greek hospitality.’
    • ‘Feta cheese is the Greek cheese; in northern Greece if the recipe just says ‘cheese’ it means feta.’
    • ‘The Greek language uses a different word for lust.’
    • ‘The Greek language dominated during the early years but gave way in due course to Latin.’
    • ‘He told the Greek ambassador that Greece had acted in haste.’
    • ‘The Greek language was used in public worship and in state affairs throughout Bulgaria.’
    • ‘It is common ground that a similar rule applies in Greece to Greek proceedings.’
    • ‘That was real Greek cooking, real Greece, something everyone should go looking for.’
    • ‘Many Jews also lived in the city and adopted Greek ways and language.’
    • ‘This conversation would have been in the Greek language, presumably?’
    • ‘The sculpture was manufactured in Melbourne, home to the artist and the world's largest Greek population outside Greece.’
    • ‘The majority of the students enrol for Classical Studies rather than the Latin or Greek language.’
    • ‘Melbourne is the largest Greek speaking city outside Greece, and Greek pride in the city has never been so strong.’
    • ‘Many Greeks write emails in Latin characters even though computers are sold with Greek language software.’
    • ‘In that framework Greek language has played, and continues to play, a significant role in the sphere of knowledge acquisition.’
    • ‘Each is an epic journey of passion, honour and dishonour, rooted in the pages of Greek mythology, with strong language and violence.’
    • ‘In fact, some sections of the book were so crude and historically distorted that the publishers omitted them from the Greek language edition.’
    • ‘From 1982 on, schools have combined to stage Latin and Greek plays in their original languages in a Classical Drama Festival, held every ten years.’


  • 1A native or inhabitant of modern Greece, or a person of Greek descent.

    ‘The ancient Macedonians were considered non-Greek but are claimed as co-nationals by the modern Greeks.’
    • ‘Typical of the Greeks ' modern cuisine are feta cheese and retsina wine.’
    • ‘In American folklore, however, the same activity is associated with modern Greeks.’
    • ‘It is the home of various people including Albanians, Vlachs, Greeks, Serbs, Bulgars, and Turks.’
    • ‘Scots regard whisky as a more traditional drink, while Spaniards, Greeks, Thais and Americans view it as trendy.’
    • ‘Turks, Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Slavs, and Jews were represented.’
    • ‘Other minority populations in Armenia include Russians, Greeks, and Jews.’
    • ‘It turned out she was Turkish Cypriot and had had an affair with a Greek Cypriot, and because Turks and Greeks didn't get on back then, her friends disowned her.’
    • ‘At weekends, parties of Greeks descend from Athens, three and a half hours away by car.’
    • ‘Groups of ethnic Greeks and Turks waved at each other as they walked across the buffer zone that 24 hours earlier had been a no-man's land.’
    • ‘We had Croatians, Italians, Greeks, etc., and it was a very diverse cultural mix.’
    • ‘One third of the population - Greeks as well as Turks - were forced to leave their homes.’
    • ‘The Turks and Greeks have made much of the lemon in their cooking, using it both as marinade and dressing.’
    • ‘She spent long years in exile and became a symbol for Greeks all over the world as well as for Greek national music.’
    • ‘According to official figures, 98% of Greeks are Greek Orthodox Christians.’
    • ‘The impact of the story on Greece and Greeks would be hard to exaggerate.’
    • ‘But the Finns, like the French and Greeks and Irish and the rest of them are quite happy with the euro.’
    • ‘The Greeks like the idea of backgammon, a national obsession, or paradosiaki hori, their traditional dancing.’
    • ‘For the Greeks it is a matter of national pride, and over the next three weeks Athens will have to prove itself capable of hosting the modern games.’
    1. 1.1A Greek-speaking person in the ancient world, especially a native of one of the city states of Greece and the eastern Mediterranean.
      ‘Most gods were common to all Greeks but each city-state also had their own patron deity.’
      • ‘Sometimes they meet and merge, as the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern systems did when the Greeks and Persians began to war with each other.’
      • ‘It provided a material and political base of cultural achievement that rivaled the Greeks under Pericles.’
      • ‘The ancient Greeks awarded crowns, the Romans torques and decorative discs.’
      • ‘To the ancient Greeks, there were simple explanations to all these questions - it was the gods!’
      • ‘In principle the human and the divine spheres were considered by the ancient Greeks to be separate, unequal, and untransgressible.’
      • ‘The ancient Greeks did not really see two distinct worlds in the lives of the citizenry.’
      • ‘It was arrogant pretension of the ancient Greeks to imagine that barbarians were slaves by nature.’
      • ‘To be sure, they inhabited the same world as the Hellenistic Greeks.’
      • ‘The original games were the largest single gathering of Greeks in the ancient world.’
      • ‘Expressions of this technique are found among the ancient Egyptians, Hindus, Greeks and Chinese.’
      • ‘The ancient Greeks eagerly consulted oracles for answers to all sorts of questions they had about the future.’
      • ‘On a spiritual level, the 4th century witnessed a permanent change in the attitudes of all Greeks.’
      • ‘A good knowledge of the past was likewise important, for the humanists idolized the Romans and Greeks.’
      • ‘Unlike Rome, but like the Greeks, the Carthaginians also made extensive use of mercenaries.’
      • ‘How can the ideas of the ancient Greeks and modern researchers in education apply to school facilities?’
      • ‘She learned the secrets that kept the Greeks ahead of other nations.’
      • ‘Athena and Hera dress for battle to aid the Greeks and descend to the field in a chariot.’
      • ‘In 130 BC the Romans overcame the Greeks and Greece became part of the Roman Empire.’
      • ‘Honey has long been a popular infection fighter, going back to the days of the Ancient Egyptians and Greeks, who used it to treat burns, cuts and ulcers.’
  • 2mass noun The ancient or modern language of Greece, the only representative of the Hellenic branch of the Indo-European family.

    The ancient form of Greek was spoken in the southern Balkan peninsula from the 2nd millennium BC. The Greek alphabet, used from the 1st millennium BC onwards, was adapted from the Phoenician alphabet. The dialect of classical Athens formed the basis of the standard dialect (koinē) from the 3rd century BC onwards, and this remained as a literary language during the periods of the Byzantine Empire and Turkish rule (see
    ). The colloquial language, however, continued to evolve independently (see

    ‘Every generation, poets and scholars try their hands at translating Homer from ancient Greek into modern languages.’
    • ‘Being very near to the centre of Hellenistic world, Greek remained the main language of book writing at Alexandria.’
    • ‘About 98 percent of Greece's people speak Greek as their first language.’
    • ‘In the Hellenistic era Greek was introduced and spoken along with Aramaic.’
    • ‘The official language is Romanian, which has Latin roots that date back to the Roman occupation of the area but also contains words from Greek, Slavic languages, and Turkish.’
    • ‘As the Arab Empire grew, Arabic replaced the Aramaic, Coptic, Greek, and Latin languages and became the main instrument of Arab culture.’
    • ‘I am skilled in many languages including Latin, Greek, Aramaic and Demotic.’
    • ‘I have a major in classical languages, Greek and Ancient Hebrew, and a minor in Philosophy.’
    • ‘The carved inscriptions on the Stone included hieroglyphics - the written language of ancient Egypt - and Greek, which was readily understood.’
    • ‘Dozens of theater companies in Athens, Thessaloniki, and other areas, perform contemporary works and ancient dramas in modern Greek.’
    • ‘Talented scientists translated and preserved ancient Greek, Persian and Indian manuscripts.’
    • ‘Tyndale was a brilliant translator who knew eight languages including Greek, the language of the New Testament and Hebrew, the language of the Old.’
    • ‘Inscription are also found in different languages such as German, Chinees, Greek, Arabic and many other languages.’
    • ‘Many of the letters used in writing these languages are derived from ancient Greek.’
    • ‘He was a man of immense learning, with a wide knowledge of the sciences and of languages: Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic.’
    • ‘The accents and other diacritical marks we now use to write ancient Greek are comparatively late inventions.’
    • ‘This second translation will be from their stronger language, English, into their weaker language, Greek.’
    • ‘Like all other languages, Greek has its unique characteristics.’
    • ‘The new languages include Czech, Danish, Dutch, Greek, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish and Swedish.’
    • ‘It is written in two languages: Greek and Latin.’
  • 3US A member of a fraternity or sorority having a Greek-letter name.

    ‘Fraternity and sorority members strive to be above the all undergraduate grade point average each semester. National trends prove that Greek members stay in college and are more likely to obtain a degree than non-Greek students.’
    • ‘Membership in the Order of Omega is extended only to those Greek juniors and seniors who, in addition to having achieved academic excellence, also have a history of leadership and service in the WPI community.’
    • ‘Since 1900, two-thirds of members of Presidential Cabinets have been Greek members.’
    • ‘The annual tradition, always held in April, unifies and bonds Greek members, as well as raises awareness of campus life and the organizations available to students.’
    • ‘Going Greek is one of the best decisions a student can make if he or she seeks leadership opportunities.’


    beware of Greeks bearing gifts
    • If a rival or enemy shows one generosity or kindness, one should be suspicious of their motives.

      ‘“Beware the Greeks bearing gifts,” he cries, hurling a spear into its side.’
      • ‘The only antidote to this kind of thing that I can think of, is the folklore wisdom contained in "Beware the Greeks bearing gifts."’
      • ‘Government also seems to have realised that it should beware the Greeks bearing gifts.’
      • ‘As the measure has been drawn by the most experienced and devoted friends of the reform, there is no occasion to fear the "Greeks bearing gifts" in this instance.’
      • ‘During the discussion in the Senate and House, the principle, "Fear the Greeks bearing gifts," was introduced and reiterated with emphasis.’


      With allusion to Virgil's Aeneid (ii. 49), which recounts the story of the Trojan Horse (see Trojan Horse).

    it's all Greek to me
    • I can't understand it at all.

      • ‘On close examination, some of the numbers or symbols (it's all Greek to me) had been rubbed out with a finger and replaced.’
      • ‘Yeah, yeah, I know - man the noble athlete still carrying the torch and all that - but to be honest it's all Greek to me.’
      • ‘‘I didn't know what they were… it's all Greek to me,’ he joked.’
      • ‘As for Panathinaikos… well, it's all Greek to me.’
      • ‘As I would say constantly throughout my first year of high school, "it's all Greek to me."’


Old English Grēcas ‘the Greeks’, from Latin Graeci, the name given by the Romans to the people who called themselves the Hellenes, from Greek Graikoi, which according to Aristotle was the prehistoric name of the Hellenes.