of or relating to , the Greeks, or their language.
pertaining to the .
noting or pertaining to the alphabetical script derived from a Semitic form of writing, employing some letters that originally represented consonants for use as vowel sounds, which was used from about the beginning of the first millennium b.c. for the writing of Greek, and from which the Latin, Cyrillic, and other alphabets were derived.
a native or inhabitant of Greece.
the language of the ancient Greeks and any of the languages that have developed from it, as Hellenistic Greek, Biblical Greek, the Koine, and .
Abbreviation: Gk, Gk.
Informal. anything unintelligible, as speech, writing, etc.:
This contract is all Greek to me.
a member of the Greek Orthodox Church.
(def 3).
a person who belongs to a Greek-letter fraternity or sorority.
Archaic: Usually Offensive. a cheater, especially one who cheats at cards.
Contemporary Examples

Netanyahu met with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaris last week to make the case against such a move.
Israel Looks to Eurasia to Achieve Top Energy and National Security Goals Allison Good October 10, 2013

“I am dying for the love of three Greek girls at Athens, sisters,” he wrote his friend Henry Drury in 1810.
Poet and Rake, Lord Byron Was Also an Interventionist With Brains and Savvy Michael Weiss February 15, 2014

Samaras and I palled around a bit, especially with the son of a New York lawyer who did work for Greek shipping magnates.
Antonis Samaras: New Greek Prime Minister and Predecessor Share College Ties Jim Warren June 18, 2012

In Greek mythology, the species became associated with numerous gods.
The History of the Chicken: How This Humble Bird Saved Humanity William O’Connor December 26, 2014

But on the day he died, she wrote a single word in her diary: paradeisos, the Greek word for paradise.
Crime of Fashion: Gucci Killer to Go Free Barbie Latza Nadeau May 15, 2014

Historical Examples

He was probably a Greek, but he did not accord with anything of his time.
Buchanan’s Journal of Man, July 1887 Various

She and her nurse had been stolen from the Ionian coast, by Greek pirates.
Philothea Lydia Maria Child

But not a sparkle sparkled from the eyes of the Greek scholar.
The Squirrel Inn Frank R. Stockton

You have seen the Greek word “phone,” which means the voice, before.
Ancient Man Hendrik Willem van Loon

The Greek inhabitants gave no assistance to their Venetian masters.
The Turkish Empire, its Growth and Decay Lord Eversley

the official language of Greece, constituting the Hellenic branch of the Indo-European family of languages See Ancient Greek, Late Greek, Medieval Greek, Modern Greek
a native or inhabitant of Greece or a descendant of such a native
a member of the Greek Orthodox Church
(informal) anything incomprehensible (esp in the phrase it’s (all) Greek to me)
Greek meets Greek, equals meet
denoting, relating to, or characteristic of Greece, the Greeks, or the Greek language; Hellenic
of, relating to, or designating the Greek Orthodox Church

Old English Grecas, Crecas (plural), early Germanic borrowing from Latin Graeci “the Hellenes,” from Greek Grakoi. Aristotle, who was the first to use Graikhos as equivalent to Hellenes (“Meteorologica” I.xiv), wrote that it was the name originally used by Illyrians for the Dorians in Epirus, from Graii, native name of the people of Epirus.

But a modern theory (put forth by German classical historian Georg Busolt, 1850-1920), derives it from Graikhos “inhabitant of Graia” (literally “gray”), a town on the coast of Boeotia, which was the name given by the Romans to all Greeks, originally to the Greek colonists from Graia who helped found Cumae (9c. B.C.E.), the important city in southern Italy where the Latins first encountered Greeks. Under this theory, it was reborrowed in this general sense by the Greeks.

The Germanic languages originally borrowed the word with an initial -k- sound (cf. Old High German Chrech, Gothic Kreks), which probably was their initial sound closest to the Latin -g- at the time; the word was later refashioned.

It was subtle of God to learn Greek when he wished to become an author — and not to learn it better. [Nietzsche, “Beyond Good and Evil,” 1886]

Meaning “the Greek language” is from late 14c.; meaning “unintelligible speech, gibberish” is from c.1600. Meaning “Greek letter fraternity member” is student slang, 1900.


late 14c., from Greek (n.). Earlier Gregeis (c.1300), from Old French Gregois; also Greekish (Old English Grecisc). In venery, “anal,” by 1970. Greek gift is from “Æneid,” II.49: “timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.”


A Greek-letter fraternity member (1900+ College students)
A professional gambler, esp a cardsharp (1528+ Gambling)

Related Terms

all greek to

1. To display text as abstract dots and lines in order to give a preview of layout without actually being legible. This is faster than drawing the characters correctly which may require scaling or other transformations. Greeking is particularly useful when displaying a reduced image of a document where the text would be too small to be legible on the display anyway.
A related technique is lorem ipsum.

Found only in the New Testament, where a distinction is observed between “Greek” and “Grecian” (q.v.). The former is (1) a Greek by race (Acts 16:1-3; 18:17; Rom. 1:14), or (2) a Gentile as opposed to a Jew (Rom. 2:9, 10). The latter, meaning properly “one who speaks Greek,” is a foreign Jew opposed to a home Jew who dwelt in Palestine. The word “Grecians” in Acts 11:20 should be “Greeks,” denoting the heathen Greeks of that city, as rendered in the Revised Version according to the reading of the best manuscripts (“Hellenes”).


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