Definition of Greek in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɡriːk/


Relating to Greece, its people, or their language. Compare with Hellenic.
Example sentences
  • 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.


1A native or inhabitant of modern Greece, or a person of Greek descent.
Example sentences
  • 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.
1.1A Greek-speaking person in the ancient world, especially a native of one of the city states of Greece and the eastern Mediterranean.
Example sentences
  • 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.
2 [mass 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 katharevousa). The colloquial language, however, continued to evolve independently (see demotic).

Example sentences
  • 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.
3US A member of a fraternity or sorority having a Greek-letter name.
Example sentences
  • 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.



beware (or fear) the Greeks bearing gifts

proverb If a rival or enemy shows one generosity or kindness, one should be suspicious of their motives.
With allusion to Virgil's Aeneid (ii. 49)
Example sentences
  • “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.

it's (all) Greek to me

informal I can’t understand it at all.
Example sentences
  • 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.



Example sentences
  • The idea of a transhistorically permanent idea of Greece and Greekness fails to recognise a long European history of intermixing nomadic tribes, slavery and successive colonising invasions.
  • However, the ingredients were fresh and tasty, even if lacking, in this case, a little authentic Greekness.
  • Preservation of those qualities which were considered to constitute Greekness - descent, religion, language, and customs - did not depend upon absolute autonomy.


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.

  • The word Greek comes from Latin Graeci, which was the name the Romans gave to the people who called themselves the Hellenes. If you cannot understand something at all, you can say it's all Greek to me—the use of Greek to mean ‘unintelligible language or gibberish’ dates from around 1600. In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar the conspirator Casca, noting that Cicero gave a speech in Greek, adds ‘for mine own part, it was Greek to me’. Greek also has a negative connotation in the proverb beware (or fear) the Greeks bearing gifts. This is a reference to the Trojan War. In Virgil's Aeneid the Trojan priest Laocoon says, ‘I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts’, warning his fellow Trojans not to take into their city the gigantic wooden horse that the Greeks have left behind on their apparent departure.

Words that rhyme with Greek

antique, batik, beak, bespeak, bezique, bleak, boutique, cacique, caïque, cheek, chic, clique, creak, creek, critique, Dominique, eke, freak, geek, hide-and-seek, keek, Lalique, leak, leek, Martinique, meek, midweek, Mozambique, Mustique, mystique, oblique, opéra comique, ortanique, peak, Peake, peek, physique, pique, pratique, reek, seek, shriek, Sikh, sleek, sneak, speak, Speke, squeak, streak, teak, technique, tongue-in-cheek, tweak, unique, veronique, weak, week, wreak

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: Greek

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