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40+ Cool Greek Words That Will Make You Want to Learn Greek

From alpha to omega, Greek letters come together to create some beautiful Greek words.

As the longest-documented Indo-European language, Greek has a rich history. Dating back to the 2nd millennium BC, the language has gone through many changes until it evolved into Modern Greek that is spoken today. All this history also means that it is not short of cool words.

For this article, we built a list of untranslatable, beautiful, and famous Greek words that you will find so cool that you will want to learn Greek. Some of these words will help you in everyday life as you speak Greek; some will broaden your vocabulary; and others will light the spark in your language journey. What do they have in common? They are all super cool!

What are some untranslatable Greek words?

Many languages have untranslatable words, and Greek is definitely one of them. Let’s take a look as they show us a sneak peek into Greek culture.

  • Μεράκι (meraki)
    Meraki expresses a sense of soul and uniqueness. It’s the feeling when you’re doing something with such devotion that you’re putting in an essence of yourself. It could be any activity, for example, cooking, making jewellery, or playing a musical piece.
  • Κελεπούρι (kelepuri)
    Kelepuri is a “bargain.” When it’s used for objects, it conveys a good value for money. It can also be used for people, especially in a romantic way. In this case, it means “a catch” or “a keeper.”
  • Φιλοξενία (filoksenia)
    We can break the word filoksenia into two parts: the first part, filo, means “love,” and the second part ksenia means foreigner. So the literal meaning is the love of foreigners. The word, however, is used to express hospitality — think, the love of hosting guests.
  • Φιλότιμο (filotimo)
    Also rooting from the word filofilotimo’s literal meaning is “love of honour.” When you say that someone has filotimo, it means that they honour their job and responsibilities in a dedicated way.
  • Λεβέντης (levendis)
    Levendis is used to describe a brave and handsome man. The word originates from Italian and dates back to the Middle Ages when there were pirates in the Eastern Mediterranean. Although it ended up taking a negative connotation in Italian, the word has a positive connotation in Greek.
  • χαρμολύπη (harmolipi)
    Combining the Greek words for joy and sadness, harmolipi conveys the coexistence of both. It can best be described in English as a feeling of bittersweetness.
  • Καψούρα (kapsura)
    Kapsura is a complex word. Some say that if you understand what it means, you’re already fluent in Greek! The word can be used for the infatuation someone experiences when they first fall in love, a strong desire, or a crush that probably won’t last long.
  • Κέφι (kefi)
    Similar to the Turkish word keyif or the Arabic word kayf, kefi can be described as a feeling of joy and being in a good mood. In Greek culture, gathering with family and friends, eating good food, and enjoying each others’ company are all moments of kefi.
  • Όπα (opa)
    Opa is commonly used in many Balkan, Mediterranean, Southern, and Eastern European countries. You can hear it during traditional dances or simply as an expression of surprise.
  • Ρε (Re)
    Probably the most untranslatable of them all, re is a slang word that has multiple uses. If you call a friend re, it has a similar meaning to “hey” or “dude” in English. You can also use it as an interjection to express surprise, anger, or astonishment when you want to grab someone’s attention.

What are some beautiful Greek words?

As a language that has had an impact on so many areas, including science, philosophy, literature, mathematics, and art, Greek has so many beautiful words that they almost sound poetic.

  • Ποίημα (poima)
    I’ve already called Greek words poetic, so I might as well start with the word for “poem.” This word is of Ancient Greek origin and comes from the verb ποιέω, which means “to make” or “to create.”
  • Ψυχή (psihi)
    Psihi means “soul” in Greek. It is also the root word of psychology, which literally translates into “the study of the soul.”
  • Αγάπη (agapi)
    Referring to romantic love or unconditional love, agapi is one of the most beautiful words in Greek. Agapi mou, which translates into “my love” is a common way for Greek-speaking couples to call each other.
  • Φίλος (filos)
    Filos or fili in feminine and filo in neutral, mean friend. This word also resembles philia, which means a deep friendship, one of the four types of love for Ancient Greeks.
  • Eλπίδα (elpida)
    Some elements of Greek mythology are still present in Modern Greek. For example, the word elpida, meaning “hope”, comes from Elpis, who is the spirit of hope in Greek mythology.
  • Θάλασσα (thalassa)
    Have you heard the term thalassophile? This cool word describes a person who loves the sea or the ocean. Its origins are Greek, with thalassa meaning “sea.”
  • Ήλιος (ilios)
    Helios is the god of the Sun in ancient Greek religion. In Modern Greek, the word ilios means “sun” and it’s a masculine word since the Greek language has grammatical gender.
  • Ελευθερία (elefteria)
    Eleftheria i thanatos or “freedom or death” is the motto of Greece. The Greek word for “freedom,” elefteria is a feminine word and can also be a girl’s name.
  • Αισθητική (estitiki)
    No wonder why Greek architecture looks so aesthetic since the word aesthetic itself comes from Greek. It didn’t always have the meaning it had today though. In Ancient Greek, the word was related to the perception of things.
  • Γειά μάς! (Yeia mas!)
    An abbreviation of the phrase την υγεία μας (tin igeia mas), yia mas means “cheers” in Greek. Its literal translation is “to our health.” Next time you’re in Greece or Cyprus, raise your glass of ouzo over the delicious mezzes in a local taverna, and practice this word in its natural environment!

What are some famous Greek words?

Did you know that more than 150,000 English words are derived from Greek? Even if you’re a beginner now, you will be surprised how many Greek words you already know.

  • Φοβία (phovia)
    In English, we use the suffix fobia to describe the fear of something. For example, claustrophobia is the fear of being in confined places. It comes from the Greek word fovos (“fear”).
  • Mικρό (micro)
    Literally meaning small in Greek, this word is used as a prefix in English for words such as microscope (helps us see small things) and microbe (very small living things).
  • Διάλογος (dialogos)
    In Ancient Greek, dia means “through” and logos means “speech.” The widely-used English version, “dialogue” is a conversation between two or more people.
  • Τηλέφωνο (tilefono)
    “Telephone” also derives from Ancient Greek, with “tele” meaning afar and “phone” meaning sound. If you are a language nerd like us, think about the word “phonetics” or the “International Phonetic Alphabet” to remember what the word fonos means!
  • Μαραθώνιος (marathonios)
    Marathon is a town in Greece where The Battle of Marathon happened between Persians and Greeks in 490 BC. During the war, the great long-distance runner Pheidippides the Greek was sent to Sparta to seek help. Later on, French linguist Michel Bréal coined the term “marathon” which means long-distance run. Since 1983, the Spartathlon Race takes place in Greece.
  • Υγιεινή (igieni)
    Igieni or “hygiene” is related to the Greek word υγεία (igea) which means “health” in English.
  • Μουσική (musiki)
    “Music,” a word that’s common in many world languages, is thought to be of Greek origin. In Greek mythology, the Muses are goddesses of literature, science, and the arts.
  • Αρχιτέκτων (arhitekton)
    Borrowed from Ancient Greek, “architect” has two Greek root words: archi (“chief”) and tekton (“builder”). So we can say that an architect in Greek translates into a master builder.
  • Καρδιά (kardia)
    Cardio exercises are the types of exercise that get your heart rate up. Have you ever wondered why they are called this way? Kardia means “heart” in Greek. This is the same root in “cardiology,” the branch of medicine that studies the heart.

What are some basic Greek words and phrases?

Although they may seem less exciting than the untranslatable words or the words that come from Greek mythology, learning the basic words is the first step in learning Greek.

If the other words have inspired you already, let’s continue with some more words!

  • Γειά σου (yeia sou): “Hello” or “goodbye” (informal)
  • Γειά σας (yeia sas): “Hello” or “goodbye” (formal or plural)
  • Καλημέρα (kalimera): “Good morning”
  • Καλησπέρα (kalispera): “Good afternoon / good evening”
  • Καληνύχτα (kalinihta): “Good night”
  • Ευχαριστώ (efharisto): “Thank you”
  • Παρακαλώ (parakalo): “Please / you’re welcome”
  • Ναί (neh): “Yes”
  • Oχι (ohi): “No”
  • Συγνώμη (sinyomi): “Excuse me”
  • πως σε λένε; (pos se lene): “What is your name?”
  • Με λένε (me lene): “My name is…”
  • Χαίρω Πολύ (hero poli): “Nice to meet you”
  • Εντάξει (endaxi): “Okay”
  • Τι κάνεις; (ti kanis): “How are you?” (informal)
  • Τι κάνετε; (ti kanete): “How are you?” (formal or plural)
  • Καλά (kala): “Good”

Ready to learn Greek?

Συγχαρητήρια! Congratulations! Here are some great resources for Greek learners to get extra help with pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar.

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Yaren Fadiloglulari

Freelance Content Writer & Journalist

Originally from Cyprus, Yaren is a freelance writer for many digital publications, travel and education brands, and start-ups.

Speaks: English, Turkish, French, and Spanish

View all posts by Yaren Fadiloglulari



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