Re: stop, cease, desist, cut it out, break it off, cork it

Carl W. Conrad (
Thu, 26 Sep 1996 20:20:39 -0500

At 8:59 AM -0500 9/27/96, John Oaklands wrote:
>Did everyone receive the "exegeting stop signs" posting from William Cox? I
>thought it was very good but wondered about the connexion with Greek. So I
>got to thinking which Greek word would we use for stop? Would it be KWLUW,
>other problem, which mood? imperative, subjunctive, infinitive or even
>indicative? And which tense? Would it be present, aorist, imperfect,
>perfect or even future?! Can we differentiate between STOP and HALT? What
>would a chariot STOP sign really have said in Hellenistic Greek? I think
>this might make a good exercise for some Greek students!

I'm less confident of what it would be in Koine, but in Classical Attic, I
believe one would use the middle imperative, and preferably, I think, the
aorist--to underscore efficacious self-restraint, for a command to a
person: "Stop!" PAUSAI (make yourself cease); this would, however, involve
an implicit participle, probably ELAUNWN: "Stop driving/pushing forward!"

"Halt"--in the sense of stop marching or stop going forward, might also be
expressed as "come to a standstill"--and that is hISTHMI. Again I'd think
aorist middle most appropriate: STHSAI: "Bring yourself to a standstill!"

The others verbs suggested have somewhat different force, I think. This, by
the way, is the sort of question that Louw-Nida is most helpful for--like a
Thesaurus that distinguishes between words have related meanings on a
spectrum within a semantic range. KWLUW is more "prevent" or "stop X from
doing Y;" KATALUW seems more "intervene (so as to interrupt a process);"
SIGAW really means "to hush, be still, be silent;" FRASSW has more the
sense of "bar, put up a barrier before (cork it!);" while DIAKOPTW (is this
a NT word at all?) is more "disrupt"--as in loosing tear gas on an unruly

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR