10 November 2006

Re: Greek

Hello Janet,
Charles Cherry sent you this message from Meetup.com:
Your etymology example was mostly correct.

You quoted:
"The word is arguably derived from hypo- meaning small, + krinein meaning to decide/to dispute. "

The Greek word "hypo" is a preposition, not an adjective (i.e., "small"). When used in the genitive case it usually means "by" in the sense of origin or posession. When used in the accusative case, it means "under" or "below" (i.e., hypodermic, below the skin).

The root word "krein" is used in many other
words, such as "kreino", meaning "I judge" or "I decide," "krinomai," meaning "I give an answer or reply", etc.

When you add hypo to the word kreinomai, it gives it the sense of coming from someone. So a hypokrisis is a response, or an answer, from one person to another.

The word hypokrites (hu-po-kri-TACE) (the word which Jesus uses in your examples) is a noun form of the verb hypokrinomai.

At some point in Greek history the word came to be used in stage acting, to describe one actor responding to or answering another actor. It wasn't long before the word took on a meaning of "to pretend to be someone or something you are not," or "give a false, dissembling or counterfeit response."

It wasn't a stretch to go from that to using the word to
describe a person who acts one way, but in reality is something quite different.

I'll bet you're sorry you asked ;-)