ἀ- + μείων

Validation

Yes

Word-form

ἀμείνων

Transliteration (Word)

ameinōn

English translation (word)

better

Transliteration (Etymon)

a- + meiōn

English translation (etymon)

not + lesser

Author

Herodian

Century

2 AD

Source

Idem

Ref.

Peri orthographias, III/2, p. 474

Ed.

A. Lentz, Grammatici graeci vol. 3/2, Leipzig, 1870

Quotation

ἀμείνων: διὰ τῆς ει διφθόγγου (παρὰ τὸ μείων καὶ πλεονασμῷ 
τοῦ ν)

Translation (En)

ameinōn "better": with the diphthong [ei], from meiōn "lesser", with adjunction of [n].

Comment

The comparative ἀμείνων is analyzed as a privative compound *ἀ-μείων "not lesser", as is often the case for words with initial ἀ-. It implies a formal manipulation, the insertion of a consonant. The etymology is elliptic in the transmitted formulation (the fact that ἀμείνων contains the privative prefix ἀ- is not mentioned), which has been abridged, but it is explicit in other reformulations of the same explanation (see Parallels). The explanation relies on the rhetorical device called litotes. This etymology does not consider the fact that μείων is quantitative whereas ἀμείνων is qualitative. Nevertheless, it has sometimes been taken up by modern etymologists, although there is no parallel for a comparative built with the privative ἀ-.

Parallels

Orion, Etymologicum, alpha, p. 18 (Ἀμείνων, παρὰ τὸ μεῖον· ὁ μὴ ἐλάσσων τινός. ἐστὶ δὲ 
πλεονασμῷ τοῦ ν, οἷον ἀμείων τις ὤν); Theodosius, Peri grammatikès p. 65 (τὸ γὰρ
 ἄμεινον ἀπὸ τοῦ μεῖον δισυλλάβου γίνεται πλεονασμῷ
 τοῦ Ν καὶ προσθέσει τοῦ Α); Etym. Genuinum, alpha 637 (παρὰ τὸ μείων […] γέγονεν ἀμείων καὶ πλεονασμῷ τοῦ ν ἀμείνων, οἱονεὶ ὁ μὴ ἐλάσσων τινός).

The Epimerismi homerici ordine alphabetico traditi (alpha 60) have the same explanation but go farther back and derive μείων from μέρος "part" (see μείων): ἀμείνων: ἐκ τοῦ μέρος μερίων καὶ ἐκβολῇ τοῦ ρ καὶ συναιρέσει γίνεται μείων καὶ ἀμείων καὶ πλεονασμῷ ἀμείνων (repeated in Etym. Gudianum, alpha, p. 112).

Bibliography

On the etymology of ἀμείνων, see E. Dieu, Le supplétisme dans les formes de gradation en grec ancien et dans les langues indo-européennes, Geneva, Droz, 2011, 47-54.

Modern etymology

Unclear. Within Greek, the word is isolated

Persistence in Modern Greek

No

Entry By

Le Feuvre