[b-greek] Re: poikilos

From: Steven Lo Vullo (doulos@merr.com)
Date: Mon Nov 19 2001 - 23:21:36 EST


On Monday, November 19, 2001, at 07:34 AM, Carl W. Conrad wrote:

> At 3:22 PM -0500 11/18/01, David Beaulieu wrote:
>>> --Dear b-greekers,
>> I wonder if anyone could tell me anything about the etymology of
>> "poikilos." I heard this week that our English "polka-dot" comes from
>> this
>> word. When I consult the American Heritage Dictionary, 1st ed.,
>> "polka-dot"
>> shows uncertain origin. Strong's also claims the word, "poikilo" has
>> no
>> certain derivation.
>> Thanks,
>> Karen W. Beaulieu
> I think this must have been meant for the list. Perhaps some others may
> have some input into this. I'd only say that there is surely no
> relationship between "polka-dot" and Greek POIKILOS or POIKILLW other
> than
> that the semantic content of "polka-dot" might be translated by the
> Greek
> adjective POIKILOS. I've never seen any etymology of *POIKIL-; I think I
> may once have read a conjecture that it's a pre-Greek (Minoan or
> generally
> Mediterranean) word as are (w)OINOS and hRODON, but I don't know if that
> was anything more than pure guesswork.

Karen, I'm curious as to the reason for your inquiry. Was there an
attempt, perhaps in a sermon, to make some point about the Greek word on
the basis of the supposed English derivation? The reason I ask is that I
have heard these kinds of points made in sermons before. I'm sure many
out there are familiar with the following illustrationt: "DUNAMIS is the
Greek word from which we get our word 'dynamite.' Therefore, DUNAMIS
denotes 'explosive' power." Although this kind of thing can make for a
very entertaining sermon, it is an exegetical blunder of the highest
degree to define Hellenistic Greek words on the basis of derivatives
that came on the scene a long time afterwards.

Steven Lo Vullo
Madison, WI

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