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An actual "ostrakon", clay shard used to vote for the banishment of a citizen "Themistocles"
An actual "ostrakon", clay shard used to vote for the banishment of a citizen "Themistocles"

Greek Roots that Go Deep

You know, Toula Portokalos’ father from the film we love and hate, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” wasn’t that far off when he insisted that every English word went back to a Greek root somehow, someway. Out of the nearly 600,000 words in English, 65% of them (a near 400,000 yo!) are derived from either Greek or Latin roots (and Latin like everything else Roman is a rip off or derivative of something Greek) what that means for you is that you can ace your SATs and MCATs without cracking open a book while the poor shmuk, your WASPy roommate has to make hundreds of flashcards. Your innate knowledge of Greek can make you look pretty darn smart in front of your teachers and professors, not to mention that it can knock the kaltses off a cocktail party circle. Here is where we make the clear connection between Greek words in English.

IZEe You: Verbs ending in -ize most definitely trace their roots to the Greek.

An actual “ostrakon”, clay shard used to vote for the banishment of a citizen “Themistocles”


from ostrako=shell. This verb makes its imprint from the practice of the ancient Athenians had of casting their votes in a ballot box with sea shells. As history has it, if a citizen was found guilty of murder or treason, voting citizens would decide whether he would be banished from the city into the wild wastes (a certain death in those days) by casting their votes with an ostrakon . Hence, the meaning of its English derivative=to voluntarily avoid, to isolate from a group.


from cautero=to burn (i.e. to nero eine kaftero) to disinfect by burning which is the same root we get caustic=causing  burning in the skin, easily flammable, sharp in criticism or Holocaust (fr. holo=all, caust=burn, burning) a systematic burning of an entire area or people


fr. pros=toward, eletizo=to lean against, so the Greek logic behind this word, that means to actively seek out in order to win over to a particular faith or religion, is that those annoying missionaries who walk on the street dressed in white shirts and black suits with their names printed in white on black badges are leaning so far against you so they might suffocate you into changing your mind and your religion.