*γῶ

Word

Validation

Yes

Last modification

Tue, 06/01/2021 - 15:48

Word-form

γῆ

Transliteration (Word)

English translation (word)

earth

Transliteration (Etymon)

*gō

English translation (etymon)

to give room/way (χωρῶ)

Author

Philoxenus

Century

1 BC

Reference

Fr. 80

Edition

C. Theodoridis, Die Fragmente des Grammatikers Philoxenos [Sammlung griechischer und lateinischer Grammatiker (SGLG) 2. Berlin: De Gruyter, 1976]:

Source

Etym. Magnum

Ref.

Etym. Magnum, Kallierges p. 229

Ed.

T. Gaisford, Etymologicum Magnum, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1848

Quotation

γῆ· παρὰ τὸ γῶ, τὸ χωρῶ· ἡ πάντα χωροῦσα. τοῦτο δὲ παρὰ τὸ χῶ, […] καὶ τροπῇ τοῦ χ εἰς γ γῶ

Translation (En)

"earth". from * "to give room", ‹means› the one containing everything […] and through change of [kh] into [g] *gō.

Comment

This etymology is typical of Philoxenus, who sought to etymologize Greek words through a monosyllabic verbal form. The supposed *γῶ is a ghost-word invented for the sake of the etymological explanation of several words (see also γυνή / *γῶ), for this verb had four different meanings, as explained by Choeroboscus, Epimerismi in Psalmos (the text reads "two" meanings but lists four): Τὸ γῶ πόσα σημαίνει; Δύο· γῶ τὸ χωρῶ, ἐξ οὗ καὶ γῆ, ἡ πάντας χωροῦσα· γῶ τὸ γανῶ, ἐξ οὗ καὶ γυνή· γῶ τὸ λαμβάνω καὶ δέχομαι, ἐξ οὗ καὶ γαστήρ· γῶ τὸ φωνῶ, ἐξ οὗ καὶ "ηὔσε δὲ διαπρύσιον Δαναοῖσι γεγωνώς " (Il. 8.227). This is repeated, with the correct number, in Etym. Magnum, Kallierges p. 244: Γῶ σημαίνει τέσσαρα· τὸ χωρῶ, ἐξ οὗ καὶ γῆ ἡ χωρητικὴ πάντων· τὸ λαμβάνω καὶ δέχομαι, ἐξ οὗ καὶ γωρυτὸς, ἡ τῶν βελῶν θήκη, χωρυτός τις οὖσα, παρὰ τὸ χωρεῖν τὰ ῥυτὰ, τουτέστι τὰ τόξα ἢ τὰ βέλη, εἰς ἣν τὰ ῥυτὰ χωρεῖται· τὸ γεννῶ, ἐξ οὗ καὶ γυνή· τὸ φωνῶ, ὅθεν καὶ γεγωνώς.

That allowed several explanations. The first explanation, from Philoxenus, assumes that *γῶ means "to contain", which is one of the meanings of χωρέω: the earth contains everything (descriptive etymology). From the formal point of view, it implies a phonetic manipulation on the consonant (voiced / voiceless aspirate). A second explanation, found first explicitly in the 9th c. AD but maybe already known to Orion, assumes that *γῶ means "to give birth", and derives from it γυνή (see γυνή / γῶ) and also γῆ, as earth produces everything (functional etymology). The latter explanation does not require any phonetic manipulation

Parallels

Etymology 1 "to contain": Herodian, Peri pathôn, Lentz III/2, p. 379 (idem); Philoponus, On the Creation of the World 181.25-27 (τοῦτο γὰρ αὐτῇ (τῇ γῇ) κυριώτατον ὄνομα καὶ τῇ φύσει πρέπον αὐτῆς· οἱ γὰρ διὰ τῶν ἐτυμολογιῶν φυσιολογοῦντες τὰ ὑποκείμενα τοῖς ὀνόμασι πράγματα παρὰ τὸ «γῶ» ῥῆμά φασιν, ὃ σημαίνει τὸ «χωρῶ», παρῆχθαι τὸ «γῆ» ὄνομα·); Orion, Etymologicum, gamma, p. 43 (s.v. γύαλον: τὸ δὲ γύω, παράγωγον τοῦ γῶ, δηλοῦντος τὸ λαμβάνω. ἀφ’ οὗ γῆ, ἡ πάντα λαμβάνουσα); Choeroboscus, Epimerismi in Psalmos p. 58 (ΓΗ̃ πόθεν γίνεται; Παρὰ τὸ γέα κατὰ συναίρεσιν τοῦ Ε καὶ Α εἰς ῆ, γῆ· τὸ δὲ γέα παρὰ τὸ γῶ, τὸ χωρῶ, ἡ πάντας χωροῦσα. Ἐκ δὲ τοῦ γῆ γίνεται γαῖα, διὰ διφθόγγου); Etym. Gudianum, gamma, p. 309 (Γῆ· παρὰ τὸ γῶ, τὸ χωρῶ); Eustathius, Comm. Il. 1, 289 (ἀπὸ τοῦ γῶ τὸ χωρῶ καὶ τίκτω γέα διὰ τοῦ ε ψιλοῦ, ὅθεν κατὰ κρᾶσιν τὸ γῆ); Etym. Magnum, Kallierges p. 222 (Τὸ δὲ γαῖα, παρὰ τὸ γῶ, τὸ χωρῶ, ἡ χωρητική […] Γαῖα: Ἔστι γῶ σημαῖνον τὸ τίκτω· ἐξ οὗ γίνεται γέα διὰ τοῦ ε ψιλοῦ, οἱονεὶ ἡ γεννητική· ἐξ οὗ κατὰ κρᾶσιν τοῦ ε καὶ α εἰς η γίνεται γῆ. Ἐκ τούτου γίνεται ἄλλη παραγωγὴ διὰ τῆς ΑΙ διφθόγγου, γαῖα, ὥσπερ σελήνη, σεληναία· Ἀθήνη, Ἀθηναία); Etym. Symeonis, gamma 84 (Γῆ· παρὰ τὸ γῶ, τὸ χωρῶ, ἡ πάντα χωροῦσα); Commentaria in Dionysii Thracis Artem grammaticam p. 364 (τὸ γῆ ὄνομα παράγωγον ὄν—παράγεται γὰρ ἀπὸ τοῦ γῶ ῥήματος, ὅ ἐστι τὸ χωρῶ); Ps.-Zonaras, Lexicon, gamma, p. 434 (γῆ δὲ εἴρηται παρὰ τὸ γῶ τὸ χωρῶ, ἡ πάντα χωροῦσα); Schol. in Oppianum, Hal, 1. 567 (Γαίης καὶ γῆς πόθεν γίνεται; παρὰ τὸ γῶ τὸ χωρῶ, ἐξ οὗ καὶ γῆ ἡ χωρητικὴ πάντων).

Etymology 2 "to give birth": Orion? ap. Etym. Gudianum, gamma, p. 309 (Ὠρίωνος Γῆ· διὰ τὸ τὸ γένος τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἐξ αὐτῆς <εἶναι>); Epimerismi Homerici Iliad 1.270 (γαίης: ἔστι γέω ῥῆμα τὸ σημαῖνον τὸ τίκτω, ἐξ οὗ καὶ γίνεται γέα διὰ τοῦ ε, οἱονεὶ ἡ γεννητική. ἐκ ταύτης τῆς λέξεως γίνεται γεωμέτρης, γεωλόφος καὶ γεωργός. τοῦτο τὸ γέα γίνεται κατὰ κρᾶσιν τοῦ ε καὶ α εἰς η γῆς); Epimerismi homerici ordine alphabetico traditi, gamma 29 (γαίης: ἔστι ῥῆμα <γῶ>, τὸ σημαῖνον τὸ τίκτω, ἐξ οὗ γίνεται γέα διὰ τοῦ ε ψιλοῦ, οἱονεὶ ἡ γεννητική. τοῦτο τὸ γέα {γίνεται} κατὰ κρᾶσιν τῶν εα εἰς η γίνεται γῆ, ἐξ οὗ τὸ γήπεδον καὶ γηγενής καὶ γηπόνος); Eustathius, Comm. Il. 1, 289 (Ὡς δὲ ἀπὸ τοῦ γῶ τὸ χωρῶ καὶ τίκτω γέα διὰ τοῦ ε ψιλοῦ, ὅθεν κατὰ κρᾶσιν τὸ γῆ, ἔτι δὲ καὶ γαῖα διὰ διφθόγγου); Etym. Magnum, Kallierges p. 222 (Γαῖα: Ἔστι γῶ σημαῖνον τὸ τίκτω· ἐξ οὗ γίνεται γέα διὰ τοῦ ε ψιλοῦ, οἱονεὶ ἡ γεννητική· ἐξ οὗ κατὰ κρᾶσιν τοῦ ε καὶ α εἰς η γίνεται γῆ); Etym. Symeonis, gamma 7 and 82; Ps.-Zonaras, Lexicon, gamma, p. 418 and 427.

Etymology 2 is also given by Plato, Cratylus 410b for γαῖα (γαῖα γὰρ γεννήτειρα ἂν εἴη ὀρθῶς κεκλημένη, ὥς φησιν Ὅμηρος· τὸ γὰρ “γεγάασιν” γεγεννῆσθαι λέγει "γαῖα "earth" would rightly be called  "begetter" (γεννήτειρα), as Homer says, because he uses γεγάασι "they were born" for γεγεννῆσθαι "to have been begotten"): the syllable [ga] of γαῖα is equated with the [ga] of γεγάασι, although γεγάασι does not belong with γεννἀω but is the plural of γέγονα, perfect of γίγνομαι

Modern etymology

Chantraine 1970, 219: Neither “γῆ” nor “γαῖα” have an established etymology. It is supposed that “γαῖα” was a contamination of “γῆ” with “αἷα” and “μαῖα”, a simple hypothesis, related to the concept of ‘mother-land’.

Persistence in Modern Greek

“Γη” is still used in MG to designate: 1. the planet Earth, 2. the place of human life and activity, 3. the soil (Triandafyllidis Dictionary of Modern Greek).

Entry By

Chriti