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Ancient GreekEdit

Alternative formsEdit


First attested in Mycenaean Greek 𐀀𐀵𐀫𐀦 (a-to-ro-qo), of uncertain origin. Scholars used to consider it to be a compound from ἀνήρ (anḗr, man) and ὤψ (ṓps, face, appearance, look): thus, "he who looks like a man". However, a δ (d) would be expected to develop by epenthesis, as in the genitive ἀνδρός (andrós), yielding *ἀνδρωπος (*andrōpos). Rosén defends this etymology, positing that the original laryngeal *h₃ in the root for ὤψ (ṓps) (from Proto-Indo-European *h₃ókʷs) changed the δ to its aspirated counterpart θ even across the intervening ρ.[1]

Beekes argues that since no convincing Indo-European etymology has been found, the word is probably of Pre-Greek origin; he connects the word with the word δρώψ (drṓps, man). According to Beekes (2009:xxix), "Shift of aspiration is found in some cases: θριγκός / τριγχός, ἀθραγένη / ἀνδράχνη".[2]

Garnier proposes a derivation from Proto-Indo-European *n̥dʰr-eh₃kʷó-s (that which is below), hence "earthly, human".[3]

The word is treated in Plato's Cratylus.[4]




ἄνθρωπος (ánthrōposm or f (genitive ἀνθρώπου); second declension (Epic, Attic, Ionic, Doric, Koine)

  1. human being, person (as opposed to gods); man, woman
    Antonym: θεός (theós)
  2. (philosophical) man, humanity
  3. (sometimes in the plural) all human beings, mankind
  4. (in feminine, derogatory) female slave


Derived termsEdit


  • Greek: άνθρωπος (ánthropos, man)


  1. ^ Haiim B. Rosén (1986), Ἄνθρωπος, in: Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung 99, issue 2, pp. 243–244.
  2. ^ Beekes, Robert S. P. (2010), “ἄνθρωπος”, in Etymological Dictionary of Greek (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 10), volume I, with the assistance of Lucien van Beek, Leiden, Boston: Brill, →ISBN, page 107
  3. ^ Garnier, Romain (2008), “Nouvelles réflexions étymologiques autour du grec ἄνθρωπος [New etymological reflections about the Greek ἄνθρωπος]”, in Bulletin de la société de linguistique de Paris[1], issue 102.1, pages 131-154
  4. ^ “Plato's Cratylus. Section 399c.”, in (Please provide the title of the work)[2], Perseus Project Texts, (Please provide a date or year):
    "I will tell you. The name “man” (ἄνθρωπος) indicates that the other animals do not examine, or consider, or look up at (ἀναθρεῖ) any of the things that they see, but man has no sooner seen—that is, ὄπωπε—than he looks up at and considers that which he has seen. Therefore of all the animals man alone is rightly called man (ἄνθρωπος), because he looks up at (ἀναθρεῖ) what he has seen (ὄπωπε)." section 400-401 for discussion of semantic shift and spelling in pre-ionic to attican dialect.

Further readingEdit