ζα- + ἄω

Validation

No

Word-form

ζάω

Transliteration (Word)

zaō

English translation (word)

to live

Transliteration (Etymon)

za- + aō

English translation (etymon)

very + to blow

Author

Herodian?

Century

2 AD

Source

Idem

Ref.

Παρεκβολαὶ τοῦ μεγάλου ῥήματος p. 6

Ed.

J. La Roche, Παρεκβολαὶ τοῦ μεγάλου ῥήματος ἐκ τῶν Ἡρωδιανοῦ [Programm Akad. Gymn. Vienna. 1863]

Quotation

παρὰ τὸ ἄω τὸ πνέω κατ’ ἐπέκτασιν τῆς ζα συλλαβῆς γίνεται ζάω, οἷον πάνυ πνέω, τὸ δεύτερον ζάεις καὶ κατὰ κρᾶσιν Δωρικὴν τοῦ α καὶ ε εἰς η μακρὸν ζῇς

Translation (En)

From "to blow" and adjunction of the syllable za- "very" comes zaō "to live", as "to breathe very much". The second person is zaeis, and through Doric contraction of [a] and [e] into [ē], zēis.

Comment

Breathing being the clearest sign of life, the verb "to live" was etymologized after a verb meaning "to blow". Notice that ἄω,  thematic variant of ἄημι, is never used with the meaning "to breathe", but only with the meaning "to blow", whereas πνέω can have both meanings. The initial ζα- was accounted for by the particle ζα- "very", which is in fact a dialectal form of διά (Lesbian form): etymologizing a usual Attic word through an Aeolic form which is unknown in Attic (except in poetry) was not a problem for Greek scholars who mixed dialect forms ad libitum. Here the etymology continues with a Doric contraction (see Choeroboscue who explains that, although Doric, it was kept in the common language). The fact that this ζα- is never used as a preverb but is found only in nominal compounds remained unseen by Greek scholars.

Parallels

Choeroboscus, Prolegomena et scholia in Theodosii Alexandrini canones isagogicos de flexione verborum, p. 28 (ἔστι γὰρ ἄω τὸ σημαῖνον τὸ πνέω, τοῦτο κατὰ ἐπίτασιν τοῦ ζα ἐπιτατικοῦ <μορίου> γίνεται ζάω, οἱονεὶ πάνυ πνέω, ὥσπερ πλοῦτος ζάπλουτος (ὁ πάνυ πλούσιος)· καὶ ἀπὸ οὖν τοῦ ζάω γίνεται κατὰ κρᾶσιν ζῶ, τούτου τὸ δεύτερον πρόσωπον ζάεις, καὶ λοιπὸν κατὰ κρᾶσιν Δωρικὴν τοῦ α καὶ ε εἰς η γίνεται ζῇς, καὶ μένει τὸ ι προσγεγραμμένον, ὥσπερ πεινάεις πεινῇς· τοῦτο δέ, φημὶ δὴ τὸ ζῇς, οὕτως ἐπεκράτησε καὶ παρ’ ἡμῖν λέγεσθαι); Etym. Genuinum ζ (M.P. Funaioli, Museum Criticum 18, 1983) (ζῇ· ἔστιν ἄω τὸ πνέω. Τοῦτο γίνεται κατ᾽ ἐπέκτασιν τῆς ζα συλλαβῆς, ζάω, ὥσπερ πλοῦτος, ζάπλουτος. Εἶτα κατὰ κρᾶσιν γίνεται ζῶ καὶ πάλιν ζάεις, ζάει· καὶ κατὰ κρᾶσιν Δωρικὴν τοῦ αε εἰς η γίνεται ζῇς καὶ ζῇ); Epimerismi homerici ordine alphabetico traditi, zeta 6 (ζῆθι: κατ’ ἐπέκτασίν ἐστιν ἡ θι συλλαβή. ἔστι γὰρ ἄω, τὸ πνέω, καὶ μετὰ τοῦ ζ{α} ζάω ζάει καὶ κατὰ κρᾶσιν Δωρικὴν τῆς αε εἰς η ζῇ· τὸ τρίτον τοῦ παρατατικοῦ ἔζαε ἔζη καὶ τὸ προστακτικὸν ζῆ); Etym. Parvum, zeta 4 (idem); Etym. Gudinum, zeta, p. 230 (idem); Etym. Magnum, Kallierges, p. 410 (Ζῶ καὶ ζῆν: Τὸ τῆς ζωῆς σημαντικὸν ῥῆμα, ἀπὸ τοῦ ζέω κατὰ μεταφοράν· ἀναπνέομεν γὰρ, ἕως πάρεστιν ἐν ἡμῖν τὸ θερμὸν καὶ ἡ ζέσις τοῦ αἵματος. Ἢ ἀπὸ τοῦ ἄω, τὸ πνέω, πλεονασμῷ τοῦ ζῆτα ἢ τοῦ ΖΑ, γίνεται ζάω· εἶτα κατὰ κρᾶσιν, ζῶ); Ps.-Zonaras, Lexicon, p. 958 (Ζῆ. ἔστι ῥῆμα ἄω τὸ πνέω. τοῦτο γίνεται κατὰ ἐπίτασιν τῆς ζα συλλαβῆς ζάω, ὡς πλοῦτος, πλουτάω, ζάπλουτος· εἶτα κατὰ συναίρεσιν γίνεται ζῶ)

Modern etymology

Within Greek, belongs with ζωή, ζωός, ἐβίων, βιός, all from the PIE root meaning "life", *gweih3-. Cognate with Lat. vīvus "alive", Ved. jīva- "id.", Engl. quick (Beekes, EDG)

Persistence in Modern Greek

MG still has ζω "to live", regular reflex of the ancient form ζήω (ζάω)

Entry By

Le Feuvre