English translation (word)
English translation (etymon)
ὁ Ἀσκαλωνίτης λέγει τὸ δῆμος τὸ ἐπὶ τοῦ πλήθους παρὰ τὸ δέμας γεγενῆσθαι οἱονεὶ σῶμά τι τυγχάνον ἢ παρὰ τὸν δασμόν. δύναιτο δ’ ἄν τις καὶ ἄλλως ἐτυμολογεῖν, εἰ παρὰ τὸ δέω γένοιτο δέεμος καὶ ἐν συναλοιφῇ δῆμος, τὸ συνδεδεμένον πλῆθος. τὸ γὰρ ἐναντίον λύη ἀπὸ τῆς διαλύσεως
Ptolemaeus of Ascalon says that dēmos meaning "people" comes from demas "body", as though it were some kind of body, or from dasmos "division". But one could also think of a different etymology, if from deō "to bind" came *deemos and through contraction dēmos, the crowd which is linked together; since the opposite, luē, is from dialusis "separation"
This etymology relies formally on the well-known alternation between [ē] and [ĕ] (as in τίθημι / τίθεμεν, ἦθος / ἔθος). From the semantic point of view, it is a metaphoric denomination defining the people as a living body, which fits particularly the political meaning of δῆμος
Etym. Gudianum Additamenta, delta p. 353 (ἢ παρὰ τὸ δέμας, οἷον ἓν σῶμα ὑπάρχων); Etym. Magnum, Kallierges p. 264 (idem); Etym. Symeonis, delta 179 (Ἢ παρὰ τὸ δέμας, δῆμος οἱονεὶ ὁ σώματι τυγχάνων); Ps.-Zonaras, Lexicon, delta p. 496.
This etymology may be alluded to in Maximus Soph., Dissertationes 7, 2 (βούλει δὴ τὸ μὲν σῶμα εἶναί σοι οἷον δῆμον, τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν ὥσπερ δυνάστην;)