Wiktionary:About Ancient Greek

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link={{{imglink}}} This is a Wiktionary policy, guideline or common practices page. Specifically it is a policy think tank, working to develop a formal policy.
Policies – Entries: CFI - EL - NORM - NPOV - QUOTE - REDIR - DELETE. Languages: LT - AXX. Others: BLOCK - BOTS - VOTES.

This page describes policies and practices specific to Ancient Greek entries on the English Wiktionary, as well as those concerning Mycenaean Greek. These are in addition to Wiktionary’s overall standards which are listed at Wiktionary:Entry layout explained.

See also Wiktionary:About Greek

General information


Divisions of the Greek language


There are currently three temporal divisions of the Greek language on Wiktionary: (1) Greek, (2) Ancient Greek, and (3) Mycenaean Greek. On Wiktionary, the word “Greek” is shorthand for Modern Greek. Mycenaean Greek includes all words written in Linear B, an earlier writing system used from the 16th to the 12th century BC. Ancient Greek includes all forms of Greek from the invention of the Greek alphabet in the 8th century BC through the fall of Constantinople in 1453 AD, including Classical Greek, Koine Greek, and Byzantine Greek (also called Medieval Greek). Currently, Byzantine Greek is poorly represented on Wiktionary. In addition, words in the Cypriot syllabary are to be put under the “Ancient Greek” header because, while they use a distinct writing system, they were concurrent with other dialects and writing systems of Ancient Greek, while Mycenaean distinctly predated them. Information concerning Modern Greek can be obtained at Wiktionary:About Greek. While Mycenaean is considered a separate category, it will be treated as a daughter project of Ancient Greek, and its rules and conventions listed here.

Dialect codes


The following dialect codes for regional or literary dialects of Greek are used in {{alter}} in alternative forms sections. Some are also used in inflection, conjugation, or declension sections or have a {{grc-xxx}} template. See Module:grc:Dialects and Category:Ancient Greek dialect templates:

code dialect
aio Aeolic Greek
ark Arcadocypriot
att Attic
boi Boeotian
del Delphic
dor Doric
ele Elean
epi Epic
gkm Byzantine (Medieval)
hom Homeric
ion Ionic
koi Koine
kre Cretan
lak Lacedaemonian
lok Locrian
lur Lyric
muk Mycenaean
pam Pamphylian
pho Phocian
poi poetic
the Thessalian

Etymology language codes


Ancient Greek has several etymology language codes defined in Module:etymology languages/data, which can be used in etymology templates:

For instance, in the Latin entry for machina:

From {{der|la|grc-dor|μᾱχανᾱ́||machine, tool}}; compare {{cog|grc-att|μηχανή}}.

which displays as

From Doric Greek μᾱχανᾱ́ (mākhanā́, machine, tool); compare Attic Greek μηχανή (mēkhanḗ).

Mycenaean Greek


Mycenaean Greek words are given their own language header, ==Mycenaean Greek== and use the separate language code gmy. They should be written only in the Linear B script; romanizations are automatically included through Module:Linb-translit. See 𐀂𐀦 (i-qo) and ἵππος (híppos) for examples of the proper formatting. They should not be listed as “Alternative spellings/forms”. Instead, they should be mentioned as cognates in the etymology section. Furthermore, Mycenaean Greek is not considered to be an ancestor of Ancient Greek, so words in the latter language are never considered to be inherited from the former.

For fonts that support the Unicode Linear B characters, see below.



The normal standard for modern languages is three independent attestations. However, Mycenaean and Ancient Greek, being dead languages, require only a single attestation.



Because Ancient Greek uses a non-Roman alphabet, there are a number of issues peculiar to its entries.

Technical issues


Fonts and display


Some users have trouble seeing some of the characters of Ancient Greek, seeing only boxes, question marks, or odd omissions. An excellent website for checking your browser and acquiring the necessary fonts is WAZU JAPAN's Unicode Test Page for Greek where you can check which characters your browser is and is not displaying and look into some possible fonts to fix this.

The worst offenders are the letters α, ι, υ, when combined with a macron or breve (◌̄, ◌̆) and one or more other diacritics. Such diacritical combinations are common in Wiktionary, because macrons and breves are mandatory. For instance, the initial vowels of the words ᾰ̓νήρ (anḗr), ῠ̔́βρῐς (húbris), and ῑ̔́ημῐ (hī́ēmi) do not display well in the majority of fonts.

The best font is New Athena Unicode by the American Philological Society. It is currently set as the primary font for Ancient Greek in MediaWiki:Gadget-LanguagesAndScripts.css. It displays most diacritical combinations well, with the exception of uppercase letters with a macron or breve, a breathing, and an acute or grave, like Ᾰ̓́. If the diacritical combinations shown above do not display well, download and install this font and restart your browser, and they should display correctly in the desktop version of the site.

If you would like the font to be used in the mobile version, add the following to your common.css:

.Polyt { font-family: New Athena Unicode; }

For Linear B fonts, go to the Linear B Syllabary page in Wazu Japan's Gallery of Unicode Fonts.

Inputting Greek text


For inputting Greek characters, there are a few options. First of all, below the edit box, there is a tool (see MediaWiki:Edittools) that has a drop-down menu with an alphabetical list of scripts. Click on "Greek" to get a menu that contains Ancient Greek characters. Then click on any character, and it will be inserted into the edit box wherever the cursor is. To enter a letter that has a macron or breve and other diacritics, you must choose a letter with macron and breve, then add the rest of the diacritics in the correct order

A second option is the template {{subst:chars|grc}}. It allows you to enter letters and diacritics using ASCII characters. Macrons and breves are supported, and you can enter diacritics in any order and they will come out in the correct order. See the template page for more information.

A third option is Greek keyboards. Many modern operating systems have built-in or freely downloaded Greek keyboards, which can generally be set up in the language options.

A fourth option is the website Type Greek.com, which allows you to type characters using Beta Code. This does not allow you to enter macrons or breves.



While there are distinct characters for the Modern Greek tonos and Ancient Greek oxia (acute accent), oxia characters are automatically converted to tonos ones by the MediaWiki software when they are entered in an editing box. For example, ά (U+1F71, Greek small letter alpha with oxia) is converted to ά (U+3AC, Greek small letter alpha with tonos).



Ancient Greek entries follow the scholarly convention with regards to the capitalization of letters, with most words appearing in all lower case letters and proper nouns and certain derivations of proper nouns (e.g. Ἕλλην (Héllēn)) appearing with the first letter capitalized. It is admitted that most of the works in question were originally written well before the invention of miniscule Greek letters.

Diacritics and accentuation


Tone or stress accents (i.e. the acute, circumflex, and grave accents: ´ ` ῀), breathing marks (῾ ᾿), and diaereses (¨) should be incorporated into the spelling of Ancient Greek words in all places.

The grave accent, however, should only appear in phrases, clauses, or sentences (for instance, the phrase μολὼν λαβέ). Entries for individual words with grave accents should redirect to the corresponding acute-accented titles: for example, δὲδέ.

In the text of entries, please always mark the length of the monophthongs (single vowels) α ι υ if you are able to, using a macron or breve (ˉ ˘), unless they have a circumflex (ᾶ, ῖ, ῦ) or a iota subscript (), which indicate that the vowel is long. Sometimes the length of the vowel can be determined from the accentuation rules. For instance, the final alphas in χώρα (khṓra), μοῖρα (moîra), and εὔνοια (eúnoia) can only be long, short, and short (χώρᾱ, μοῖρᾰ, εὔνοιᾰ).

For help with entering diacritics, see the section on inputting Greek text.

Entry names do not have macrons or breves. To automatically remove macrons or breves from a link, use one of the many linking templates powered by Module:links: {{l}}, {{m}}, {{der}}, {{bor}}, and so on. This feature is made possible by the makeEntryName function in Module:languages, which uses the entry_name data for Ancient Greek in Module:languages/data/3/g.

Some dictionaries and lexicons operate under the standard that an unmarked vowel is short, while a long vowel will have a macron. In Wiktionary, an unmarked vowel is considered ambiguous; short vowels should be marked with breves. For instance, the second iota of πολῑτικός (polītikós) is considered ambiguous; this word should be spelled πολῑτῐκός (polītikós), with a breve on the second iota to indicate that it is short.

breve macron

Due to Unicode's treatment of combining diacritics, a vowel containing a length mark plus other diacritics must be coded as follows:

  1. vowel with length mark (◌̄, U+304 or ◌̆, U+306)
  2. combining breath mark (◌̓, U+0313 or ◌̔, U+0314) or diaeresis (◌̈, U+0308), if any
  3. combining accent mark if any (◌́, U+0301, ◌̀, U+0300, or ◌͂, U+0342).

Failure to do so will result in the form being improperly linked.

Unicode Greek characters: capitals
Accent Vowel Rho
Acute Ά Έ Ή Ί Ό Ύ Ώ
Smooth ᾿
Circumflex Ἷ
Diaeresis ¨ Ϊ Ϋ
Macron ˉ
Breve ˘
Unicode Greek characters: lower case
Accent Vowels Rho
α ε η ι ο υ ω ρ
Acute ά έ ή ί ό ύ ώ
Smooth ᾿
Diaeresis ¨ ϊ ϋ
Acute ΅ ΐ ΰ
Macron ˉ
Breve ˘



Certain Greek characters have multiple Unicode codepoints for representing them. For example, the character theta has its standard representation of θ (codepoint U+3B8), but also has the alternate ϑ (U+3D1). These two characters may or may not look different depending on a variety of factors, such as browser, operating system, and installed fonts. In general, Ancient Greek on Wiktionary should always use the more standard character (i.e., unaccented characters should come from the U+370–373 / U+376–377 / U+391–3A9 / U+3B1–3C9 / U+3D8–3D9 / U+3DC–3DD ranges of characters).

Wiktionary standard Alternate
β ϐ
Θθ ϴϑ
κ ϰ
ρ ϱ
Σσ Ϲϲ
φ ϕ

There exists a convention in some older works of adding a smooth and rough breathing mark to internal double rhos. Wiktionary prefers unmarked internal rhos for Ancient Greek. Consequently Βορρᾶς (Borrhâs) is correct, and Βοῤῥᾶς (Borrhâs) is incorrect.

It was informally agreed on in a discussion that elision in words such as δ’ (d’), from δέ (), should be written with the straight apostrophe (', U+27) in Ancient Greek entry names, and with the curly apostrophe (, U+2019) in Ancient Greek text. So, δ’ is used in text, while δ' is the actual entry name. Other websites use spacing coronis (, U+1FBD) or spacing smooth breathing (᾿, U+1FBF). Linking templates such as {{l}} and {{m}} will automatically convert these other characters to the straight apostrophe when generating links (see the entry-name replacements in the data module for Ancient Greek).

Romanization standards


Ancient Greek transliterations into Latin script (that is, romanizations) are not words. Ancient Greek did not use the Latin script. Latin script transliterations should generally accompany the Greek spelling as an aid to readers who cannot understand the Greek script, but should not have independent entries (unless they have become words in their own right, such as wau and ypogegrammeni). Transliteration is done automatically by Module:grc-translit in most cases. For more information, see Wiktionary:Ancient Greek romanization and pronunciation.



Most headers have a basic description in WT:ELE, however Ancient Greek has a few special concerns which will be dealt with here. If you have further questions after reading this section, check out WT:ELE, as headers have a somewhat fuller description there. Headers are listed here in the order they should be found in entries, and at the proper level (the number of equal signs which should surround them in the editing window). Keep in mind that it is not necessary to use all of these every time. Simply put what you know (or can find) and someone else will fill it out later. The only headers which are necessary for every entry are the Language (Ancient Greek) and POS header.

==Ancient Greek==
===Alternative forms===
====Usage notes====
====Derived terms====
====Related terms====

Ancient Greek


Language header, at level 2.

Alternative forms


The Alternative forms header is used in main entries, and contains dialectal forms of the word or spelling variants. Main entries are generally located in the entry for the Attic or Koine form.

Alternative forms should be listed in a bulleted list using the {{alter}} template, and the dialect or dialects in which the form occurs should be specified using the 3-letter codes listed above (which are listed in Module:grc:Dialects):

  • {{alter|grc|ALTERNATIVE SPELLING|second ALTERNATIVE SPELLING, if necessary||DIALECT|second DIALECT, if necessary|optional note}}

For instance, in the Alternative forms section of ἠώς (ēṓs):

* {{alter|grc|ἕως||att}}
* {{alter|grc|αὔως||aio}}
* ...

And in the definition line in the Noun section of ἕως (héōs):

# {{alt form|grc|from=Attic|ἠώς}}
  1. Attic form of ἠώς (ēṓs)

The templates below are deprecated in Alternative forms sections, and should be replaced with {{alter}}:

  • {{l|grc|GREEK}} ({{grc-DIALECT}})

The main entry should have a term-label ({{tlb|grc|}}) after the headword, specifying the dialect or dialects to which it belongs. The dialectal forms should have short entries that uses the template {{alt form|grc|from=name of dialect|from2=optional second dialect|from3=optional third dialect|main entry}} to link to the main entry and provide the dialect name or names. The |from= parameter accepts the Ancient Greek dialect names that have files in Module:labels/data/subvarieties; that is, those that can be used in {{lb|grc|label}}. {{tlb}} and {{alt form}} will then categorize the entry in a dialect category.



Some templates commonly used in Ancient Greek entries are described at Wiktionary:Etymology. Many words are inherited or derived from the ancestors of Ancient Greek, Proto-Hellenic (grk-pro) and Proto-Indo-European (ine-pro).

When a term comes from a PIE root, place the template {{PIE root|grc|root with no asterisk or hyphen}} at the top of the Etymology section.

Cognates in Old English and English should be listed if possible, and in ancient languages such as Latin, Sanskrit, Old Persian, Old Armenian, or Old Church Slavonic.

For examples, see εἰμί (eimí), Δαρεῖος (Dareîos).



Pronunciation through time is produced using the template {{grc-IPA}}, which should be used in all Ancient Greek entries. This template automatically determines the pronunciation from the page title. When there are vowels of ambiguous length (α ι υ), a form of the word with macrons or breves should be provided in the first parameter. See the template documentation for details.

Part of speech


The “Part of Speech” headers which are currently used within Ancient Greek are: Adjective, Adverb, Article, Conjunction, Interjection, Noun, Number, Particle, Prefix, Preposition, Pronoun, Proper noun, Suffix, and Verb. These largely represent the standard across languages in Wiktionary. If an entry contains a different POS header than those listed above, it is likely incorrect. Different POS headers may be acceptable, but should be carefully checked and discussed with other editors.



Directly underneath the POS header is the headline, which is typically formatted with a headline template such {{grc-noun}}. The available Ancient Greek headline templates can be found at Category:Ancient Greek headword-line templates. If the POS does not have an appropriate template, {{head}} should be used. The definitions immediately follow the headline. If the word contains vowels of ambiguous length, be sure to use the |head= parameter.

If the headword is a form that is only used in one dialect (or several dialects), or a word that happens to be used almost exclusively in one dialect, then place the dialect or dialects in the template {{term-label|grc|dialect}} (shortcut {{tlb|grc|dialect}}) immediately after the headword template. If the label exists, it will be linked to a Wikipedia article, and will categorize the word in categories such as Category:Attic Greek, Category:Epic Greek, and so on. If a dialect label does not yet exist, add it to the "Language-specific" section of Module:labels/grc/regional.

Pronouns should be classified in a subcategory with the code |cat2=subcategory pronouns. For instance, in τίς (tís):

{{head|grc|pronoun|head=τῐ́ς|cat2=interrogative pronouns}}



Entries on Ancient Greek nouns, adjectives, pronouns, and verbs show the inflected (declined or conjugated) forms under the header “Inflection”. While languages like English with simple inflections put the forms before the definition in the headline, Ancient Greek has too many forms to list there.

Ancient Greek entries operate under a format where the lemma form (nominative singular for nouns, nominative masculine singular for adjectives and present active indicative first singular for verbs) occupies a privileged position. The entry for the lemma form will have all of the information pertaining to the word (i.e. etymology, full inflection, derived terms, etc.). All other forms will be soft redirects, with the language and POS headers, and a short statement about which inflected form it is of which lemma (see αἰγός (aigós) for an example).

Generate tables of inflected forms using {{grc-decl}} for nouns, {{grc-adecl}} for adjectives and some pronouns, and {{grc-conj}} for verbs. Other, mostly deprecated, templates, are listed in Category:Ancient Greek inflection-table templates. For examples of usage, see λῡ́ω (lū́ō), καλός (kalós), ἄνθρωπος (ánthrōpos).

Usage notes


A general purpose header which is used for information which does not fit into other headers. This is one of the few headers which regularly contains prose. Information on definitions, syntax, and inflected forms is commonly put here. Brief information on pronunciation should be put in the Pronunciation header.

Bulleted lists


The following headers contain only bulleted lists. Bullets are created by starting the line with an asterisk (*), followed by a single space, followed by the content. Words linked to in such lists are best encoded using {{l}} (remember to specify the language). If there are more than a few terms in the list (e.g. more than six), division templates such as {{top2}}, {{top3}}, and {{top4}} should be used. If there are many terms (e.g. more than twenty), use a template that produces a collapsing table such as {{der3}} and {{rel3}}.

Semantic relations headers


Semantic relations are described in the following two headers: Synonyms and Antonyms. These are words which are related semantically, that is, by their meanings. They can be etymologically/genetically related, but they don’t have to be.



Words which have the same or similar meanings are placed here. They may be etymologically (genetically) related, but they do not have to be. Synonyms should be bulleted and sorted by the sense which they share, which is specified using the template {{sense}}. See σκολόπενδρᾰ (skolópendra) as an example.



Words which have an opposing meaning are placed here. Content under this header is formatted identically to that under the Synonym header, namely it is bulleted and sorted by sense using the template {{sense}}. See σκότος (skótos) for an example.

Genetic headers


Genetic relations between words are described in the following headers, in addition to Etymology, which comes earlier in the entry. These words must always be genetically related, but need not be semantically related, though they often are. The Etymology header describes the entry’s predecessor(s), where the following headers describe other genetic relations.

Derived terms (Ancient Greek words)


Derived terms are other Ancient Greek words which derive from the entry word. Non Ancient Greek words which derive from the term should be placed under “Descendants”. Ancient Greek is rich in combinations, denominals, and the like, and so this section may become very large for certain words (such as prepositions). Words in this section should be linked, bulleted, and alphabetized. An easy method for searching for derived terms and descendants is to click the “What links here” link on the left (please check through these before adding them to sections).


This section is, like derived terms, only for other Ancient Greek words which are in some way etymologically related to the entry word, such as a word which shares the same etymon. It is often useful for words which might be etyma or derived terms, but the exact relationship of which is unclear. This section should be formatted in a similar manner to derived terms.

Descendants (non-Ancient Greek words)


Descendants are words in other languages which come from the entry word. This includes both Modern Greek (and Tsakonian, Cappadocian, Pontic, and Yevanic) words descended directly from Ancient Greek and words in other languages that have been borrowed directly or indirectly from Ancient Greek. This is another section which can quickly grow to large sizes, as Ancient Greek has been heavily drawn upon in English and many other languages. Please list descendants alphabetically by language; see ἄγγελος (ángelos) for an example.



The references section should contain the dictionaries, lexica, or grammars which you used to create the entry. There are several templates for commonly used references: {{R:LSJ}} (see A Greek–English Lexicon), {{R:Smyth}}, and {{R:Cunliffe}}. For a full list, see Category:Ancient Greek reference templates.

Note that the 8th edition of the LSJ is out of copyright, easily downloaded in pdf format, and an excellent source for Ancient Greek entries. It is also available through the Perseus project, as is Smyth's reference grammar.

Please keep in mind that simply copying from copyrighted works is a copyright violation and illegal; any entries found to be copyright violations will be promptly deleted without warning or discussion. Users with a repeated history of entering copyrighted material will generally be blocked.



Part-of-speech categories are generated by the headword template, but other categories, such as topic categories, can be added below the References section using the templates {{C}} and {{catlangname}}. For instance, ἐρυθρός (eruthrós, red) is placed in the grc:Colors topic category using the following code:




The definitions fall under the POS header, with a blank line separating them from the headline. Definitions are preceded by a hash mark (#) and a single space. Definitions are ideally simply English translations, separated by commas when there is more than one English translation for a single definition. When possible, translations should be linked. Occasionally, an Ancient Greek term will be poorly explained by an English word, such as when English lacks a word for a concept, or when an Ancient Greek word carries particular connotations which do not exist in any English counterpart. In these cases a fuller explanation is allowed. Subsenses can be denoted by using multiple hashmarks. For example a definition with two contiguous hash marks (##) which follows a definition with one will be expressed as a subsense of the first. See Σαβάζιος (Sabázios) for example, which contains a primary sense, with two subsenses.



Wiktionary strives to back up its claims about words by citing the text of Ancient Greek authors. Definitions should ideally have quotations which demonstrate the claimed meanings in use in Ancient Greek text. {{Q|grc}} is useful for formatting these quotations.

There are two places for quotations, each with subtly different purposes. One is within the definitions of the entry itself. These are meant to be illustrative quotations, which show the word in use. They are encoded with a hash mark (or more if the definition in question has more) with a contiguous asterisk (*) and a single space, followed by the quote.

The second place is on the citations tab of an entry, which is essentially a page dedicated solely to quotations for that particular entry (bearing in mind that it is shared between all languages which have a word in that spelling). Generally the standards for appropriateness are somewhat lower here, and this is the ideal place to put quotes whose meaning is unclear, or to put large amounts of quotes, which would otherwise clutter up the main page, etc.

In citing quotations, the author and work should be titled using the most common English translation, when possible. See σέλας (sélas) as an example.

When possible, the original text should also be included, as well as a translation. An ideal translation is copyright free, accurate, and intelligible to a modern English speaker. While taking translations from a copyrighted translation might seem lucrative, as the use of a single sentence might well be protected by fair use, it would be impossible to keep track of how many such snippets are in place on Wiktionary, and a large number of them would constitute copyright infringement. Consequently, the use of translations from copyrighted materials is prohibited. Translations should be taken from out-of-copyright works, or better yet, be done by the editor, should they feel competent enough for the task. Translations should be faithful to the Ancient Greek, but also idiomatic English, with somewhat more weight given to the former, as they are not meant for general reading.

Format in non–Ancient Greek entries


When listing a word as a translation of an English word or as part of the etymology of a non–Ancient Greek word, it should be listed specifically as Ancient Greek. In etymologies, this can be accomplished by adding the etymology templates {{der|en|grc|word}} or {{bor|en|grc|word}} to the etymology line. Also, when listing an Ancient Greek word on a non–Ancient Greek entry, the word should be enclosed within the linking templates {{m|grc|word}} or {{l|grc|word}}.

More help


If you’re still stumped, please feel free to drop a question or comment on the talk page of an editor knowledgeable in Ancient Greek on the English Wiktionary, including the following:

Word lists


These word lists can be used as guides for words that need entries, or whose entries should be improved:

See also