Did the Romans ever combine Greek and Latin morphemes?


Recently I was thinking about words in English which were formed from a Greek and Latin morpheme pair. An example of this is 'television', where 'tele-' is a Greek-originating prefix while 'vision' is of Latin origin.

That then got me thinking; did the Romans ever do anything like this with their Latin words? Did they ever, for instance, add Greek prefixes instead of a Latin one to their words?

Note: I do realize that this question may be more nuanced than I've stated thus far, since there are many Latin words of Greek origin, but which are otherwise entirely Latin words; such a scenario would be ambiguous. These ambiguities should be included as examples, just to be sure.


Posted 2017-07-01T13:56:23.300

Reputation: 549

I think this question needs a bit of reworking. You mean "lexemes" not "morphemes". And tele- is not a prefix. – fdb – 2017-07-01T18:58:50.557

@fdb: Morpheme is the correct term. That would encompass both roots and affixes. A lexeme, on the other hand, is an abstraction, meaning “any inflected form of the same word,” but at the same time a distinct entity from all of these forms. When you see something like KING.PL.ABL written under a word in an example language phrase in a book or a paper, KING would be the lexeme. And you are entirely correct about tele-! – kkm – 2017-07-01T23:11:07.260

@kkm Are you saying it's a prefix or not? I don't know it's function in Greek (mine is quite weak), but I was referring to English, where 'tele-' is most definitely a prefix. – Cataline – 2017-07-01T23:17:57.967

2I do not know what would tele- “most definitely” a prefix; tele- is non-productive in English. We usually regard the class of affixes as closed. Is -scope a suffix in oscilloscope? Is oscillo- a prefix? Is tele- a prefix in telescope? What is the prefix in gastroenterology? I'd say, when your particular approach to a linguistic analysis for any reason calls for tele- be operationally regarded as prefix, go for it, but it should be elaborated. In the context of your question, however, it does not matter, so it'd be better to stick to conventional terms. – kkm – 2017-07-02T00:10:07.287



In a couple of letters where he describes villas (esp. 2.17 and 5.6), Pliny the Younger uses cryptoporticus (Greek κρυπτός + Latin porticus) to describe a colonnade with wall and windows – a covered gallery. Commentators (e.g., A. N. Sherwin-White, The letters of Pliny: a historical and social commentary ad II.17.16) seem to agree that he coined this term.


Posted 2017-07-01T13:56:23.300

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There are cases where a word is borrowed from Greek to Latin, and then a new word is derived from it within Latin. Whether this counts as mixing morphemes from the two languages depends on how non-Greek the morpheme added in derivation is. My Greek vocabulary is weak, so the list may contain morphemes that turn out not to be non-Greek. I have attempted to separate the languages with a hyphen.

Here are some examples:

If some of my suffixes turn out to be too Greek, let me know.

Joonas Ilmavirta

Posted 2017-07-01T13:56:23.300

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Another example I came across, even though it doesn't seem to have classical examples: euroauster, "the Southeast wind," which is a combination of:

  1. eurus, from Greek εὖρος, "the East wind"
  2. auster, "the South wind"

Classically, this word uses both Greek roots: euronotus from εὐρόνοτος, but Isidore gives some late testimony that the Greek + Latin combination was in use:

Euroauster dictus quod ex una parte habeat Eurum, ex altera Austrum. (Etym., XIII.11.6)


Posted 2017-07-01T13:56:23.300

Reputation: 23 199

2Could this word be used when things go south with the euro? :) – Joonas Ilmavirta – 2017-08-08T20:12:30.990