νέφος

Validation

Yes

Word-form

νείφω

Transliteration (Word)

neiphō

English translation (word)

to snow

Transliteration (Etymon)

nephos

English translation (etymon)

cloud

Author

Herodian

Century

2 AD

Source

Idem

Ref.

Peri orthographias, Lentz III/2, p. 554

Ed.

A. Lentz, Grammatici graeci III/2, Leipzig 1870

Quotation

νείφω τὸ χιονίζω διὰ τῆς ει διφθόγγου. ἔστι γὰρ νέφος […] ἐκ τούτου οὖν τοῦ νέφος γίνεται νέφω καὶ πλεονασμῷ τοῦ ι νείφω

Translation (En)

Neiphō "to snow", spelled with a diphthong [ei]. There is nephos "cloud" […] and from that nephos one derives *nephō and through adjunction of [i], neiphō

Comment

This etymology is mimetic in so far as it reflects the extra-linguistic reality: clouds (A) produce snow, (B) therefore the noun nephos "cloud" (A') is the etymon of the verb neiphein "to snow" (B'). The etymology requires the insertion of a [i], which was not a big problem for Greek scholars, as there are many instances of the alternation between ĕ and ei (long closed vowel), as in μένω / ἔμεινα. The reverse derivation is better attested (see νέφος / νείφω)

Parallels

Choeroboscus, De orthographia (epitome), p. 241 (idem); Etym. Gudianum, nu p. 404 (idem); Etym. Magnum, Kallierges p. 601 (ἀπὸ τοῦ νέφος, νέφω καὶ νείφω)

Modern etymology

Old verb from *sneigwh- "to snow", cognate with Goth. snails, Engl. snow, Lat. nix, nivis (Beekes, EDG)

Persistence in Modern Greek

The verb does not occur in Modern Greek, but there still is the derivative νιφάδα "snow flake", from the accusative of νιφάς, which survived in Medieval Greek. The verb was already lost in Byzantine times, and was replaced by χιονίζει.

Entry By

Le Feuvre