Compound Nouns and Adjectives

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439. The first member of a noun or adjective may be a preposition or adverb (440, 441), a verb stem (442), or the stem of a noun or adjective (443). The second member is the stem of a noun, adjective, or verb, with the changes or additions that were felt to be natural for declension.

a. The accent is generally recessive, but there are many exceptions; the most easily classified will be mentioned.

440. a. A preposition may be prefixt simply as an adverb to some nouns and adjectives, with no further change than with verbs (437.

Compound Members
ἄν-οδος
way or march up
ἀνά ὁδός
ἀπό-στασις
standing off, revolt
ἀπό στάσις
ἐπι-βουλή
a plan against
ἐπί βουλή
σύμ-πᾱς
all together
σύν πᾶς
συν-αίτιος
jointly causing
σύν αἴτιος

b. Different from these are nouns derived from compound verbs and adjectives.

σύνθημα
watchword (407)
from συν-τίθημι
προθῡμίᾱ
eagerness (429.b)
πρό-θῡμος
(447.b)
ἀποικίᾱ
colony (429.b)
ἄπ-οικος
(448)

But in some cases either method may have been followed.

441. The adverbs πᾶν (altogether), εὖ (well), also the inseparables (ν)- (not) and δυσ- (ill), are prefixed in like manner to a few adjectives, and the last three to many verbals in -τος.

Compound Member
πάν-σοφος
exceedingly wise
σοφός
wise
παν-τλήμων
all-enduring, wretched
τλήμων
wretched
εὐ-δόκιμος
well-approved, glorious
δόκιμος
approved
ἀ-δόκιμος
un-approved, in-glorious
ἀ-δύνατος
un-able, im-possible
δυνατός
able, possible
δυσ-τάλᾱς
in hard misery
τάλᾱς
wretched
εὔ-τακτος
well-arranged
τακτός
arranged
ἄ-τακτος
un-arranged
δυσ-πόρευτος
hardly passable
πορευτός
passable

a. But these simple compounds must not be confused with those described in 447, which have the same first member in a different relation to the second (444).

442. A verb stem stands in some adjectives and nouns as the first member— either the stem simply, or with an added vowel, or with added -σι ( before a vowel). The second member is thought of as object (accusative, genitive, or dative) of the first. [Cp. English break-neck, tell-tale, loose-strife.]

Compound Members
ἀρχ-ι-τέκτων
master-builder
ἄρχω
rule
τέκτων
builder
φερ-έγγυος
bringing surety, capable
φέρω
bring
ἐγγύη
surety
λιπ-ο-ταξίᾱ
desertion (leaving the ranks)
λείπω (λιπ-)
leave
τάξις
rank
λῡ-σι-τελής
paying charges, profitable
λῡ́ω
loose
τέλος
charge
πείθ-αρχος
obedient to command
πείθομαι
obey
ἀρχή
rule
μῑσ-ό-δημος
hating the people
μῑσέ-ω
hate
δῆμος
people
φιλ-άνθρωπος
loving man
φιλέω
love
ἄνθρωπος
man

The last two perhaps belong rather under 449.

a. The syllables ἀρχ-, ἀρχε-, ἀρχι-, came to be a mere prefix meaning leader, first [English arch-, archi-].

443. A noun or adjective as the first member appears as a bare stem, and this may suffer various changes.

a. The final vowel, or even more, may be lost or changed.

Compound Member
φῡ́λ-αρχος
tribe-leader
φῡλή
tribe
τριήρ-αρχος
captain of a trireme
τριήρης
trireme
στρατ-ηγός
army-leader
στρατός
army
ῥᾱ́ͅ-θῡμος
of easy spirit, lazy
ῥᾱ́ͅ-διος
easy
(the ending of derivation,
-διος, is omitted)

b. Since ο- stems were especially frequent in such compounds, they became a model to which other stems were often conformed. Hence -ο may replace a final -ᾱ or the suffix -εσ,or may be added to a consonantal stem.

Compound Member
λυρ-ο-ποιός
lyre-maker
λύρᾱ
lyre
σκευ-ο-φόρος
baggage carrying
[stem] σκευεσ-
baggage
μητρ-ό-πολις
mother-city
[stem] μητ(ε)ρ-
mother

c. Contractions may occur.

κακοῦργος
evil-doer
[epic] κακο[ϝ]έργος
παν-οῦργος
doing anything and everything, scoundrel
[perhaps made on the analogy of κακοῦργος]
τῑμωρός
upholding honor
for τῑμα-ϝορός

444. The following elements enter as the first member into many compounds, in which they have the force of an adverb or an adjective, as the second member may require (cp. 441).

εὖ (well), in composition well, easily, or good
δυς- (inseparable) ill, with difficulty, or bad
(ν)- (negative, inseparable), not, or no
ἡμι- (inseparable, Latin semi-) half

With these may be put καλλι-, which is not used separately, but in many compounds takes the place of καλός or καλῶς.

a. In ἀ-κόλουθος (accompanying, following; κέλευθος path), and ἅ-θροος or ἄθροος (thronging, together; θρόος noise of a crowd) the first element is ἀ- copulative (for σα-) related to ἅμα and ὁμο- (together).

445. In meaning, when the first member represents a noun or adjective, the relation between the two parts may vary greatly, and is gathered from their separate meanings; especially the poets make combinations very freely. (Even greater freedom is usual in English.) But certain classes are large, and these it is convenient to name.

a. Determinative Compounds— The first member makes more specific (determines) the meaning of the second; the whole denotes a particular case of what the second part denotes alone e. g., school-boys are one class of boys, well-made is made in a particular way (446).

b. Possessive Compounds— These are adjectives, being noun-compounds of the determinative class, but with the idea of possession understood. Thus yellow-throat does not mean a yellow throat, but a bird having a yellow throat; the idea of having is not expressed, but from frequent use is understood. In English many of these end in -ed, on the model of participles: bald-headed, warm-hearted, sword-shaped (447).

c. Prepositional-Phrase Compounds— A phrase consisting of a preposition and its object is made a single word, with the force, and in Greek the inflection, of an adjective (which like other adjectives may become a noun). Thus outdoor sports are played out of doors, an underground passage is subterranean (448).

446. Determinative Compounds (445.a) are of two classes, not always distinguishable.

a. Dependent Compounds: the first member is a noun that may be regarded as modifying the second, as if dependent on it in some case-relation.

Compound Members
στρατ-ηγός
leader of an army
στρατό-ς, -ηγός (ἄγω)
λοχ-ᾱγός
leader of a company
λόχος, -ᾱγός (ἄγω)
λογο-γράφος
speech-writer
λόγος, γράφος (γράφω)
ναυ-μάχος
fighting with ships
ναῦς, -μάχος (μάχομαι)
στρατό-πεδον
camp
στρατοῦ πέδον
λογο-ποιός
speech-maker, inventor of tales
λόγους ποιῶν
χειρ-ο-ποίητος
handmade
χερσὶ ποιητός
ὑδρ-ο-φόρος
watercarrier
ὕδωρ, -φόρος (φέρω)
αὐτό-ματος
self-impelled
αὐτός, [root μα-]
τριήρης
triply-fitted
τρεῖς, ἀραρίσκω

b. Descriptive Compounds: the first member is an adjective modifying a noun as the second, or is an adverb modifying an adjective or participle as the second. (Cp. English bluebird and newborn.) Descriptive compounds are fewer than dependents.

Compound Members
μόν-αρχος
sole ruler
μόνος, ἀρχός
μεσ-ημβρίᾱ
midday (49)
μέση ἡμέρᾱ
ἀκρ-ό-πολις
upper city, citadel
ἄκρᾱ
πόλις
ψευδ-ο-μαρτυρίᾱ
false witness
ψευδὴς μαρτυρίᾱ
ἡμί-ονος
half-ass, mule
ἡμι- (444), ὄνος
ἡμί-βρωτος
half-eaten
βιβρώσκω
eat
εὔ-δηλος
quite clear
εὖ, δῆλος
περί-εργος
overactive
περί, -εργος
[root: ἐργ-]

c. Many determinatives have as latter member a word that does not occur separately, or not in that sense (410); in some cases the lack is accidental. Thus ἄρχός, ἀγός (), ἀγωγός are found separately, but not -ηγος, -γραφος, -μαχος, -ποιος; while φόρος, δόμος, δρόμος are used, but not in the sense in which they form many compounds.

d. Determinatives of the ο- declension, if the second part is active, accent the penult if that is short, otherwise the ultima: λιθο-βόλος (stone-throwing), ναυμάχος, λογο-ποιός. (But not compounds in -αρχος and -οχος, which have recessive accent, and other exceptions occur.)

447. Possessive Compounds (445.b)— In these the idea of having is added in thought to a determinative; in a few the added idea is rather that of being.

τρί-πους having three feet, three-footed

πολυ-άνθρωπος having many men, populous

δύσ-πορος having a hard passage

εὔνους well-minded, kindly

εὐ-τυχής having good fortune, fortunate

ὁμο-τράπεζος having the same table, table-companion

ὁμό-λογος having common speech or ratio, agreeing, homologous
ὁμο- appears only in composition; but cp. the adverb ὁμοῦ, adjective ὅμοιος

θεο-ειδης having a godʼs appearance, godlike (εἶδος)
— From -ειδης, contracting with a preceding vowel, was formed the derivative ending -ώδης, and English -οid

a. Many compounds of this class begin with (ν)- negative, which may either mean not, denying the idea of possession, or no modifying the noun.

ἄ-πορος not having a passage, or having no passage

ἄ-τῑμος without hοnor, disfranchised

b. Prepositions often have an adjectival force in such compounds (cp. 440.a):

πρό-θῡμος having a forward spirit, eager (θῡμός)

ἀμφί-θυρος having a door on both sides, double-doored (θύρᾱ)

μέτ-οικος having oneʼs dwelling with, resident alien (οἶκος)

ἔν-θεος having a god within, inspired

ἔφεδρος having a by-seat (one who has drawn a ''bye")

πάρ-εδρος having a seat beside, assessor

448. Prepositional-Phrase Compounds consist of a preposition and its noun, with the idea of being added (444.c).

Compound Members
παρά-δοξος
contrary to opinion, unexpected
παρὰ δόξαν
παρά-νομος
against the law, illegal
παρὰ νόμον
παρα-θαλάττιος
beside the sea
παρὰ θάλατταν
ἔμ-πορος
on a journey, traveler, importer
ἐν πόρῳ
ἐν-θῡ́μιος
in the heart or mind
ἐν θῡμῷ
ἐφ-όδιος
for a journey
ἐφʼ ὁδῷ or ὁδόν
ἐφ-ήμερος
lasting for a day
ἐφʼ ἡμέρᾱͅ
ἐπί-χειρον
something on the hand, wages
ἐπὶ χειρί
προ-άστιος
suburban
πρὸ ἄστεως
ἐμ-μελής
in tune
ἐν μέλει
πλημ-μελής
out of tune
πλὴν (beyond) μέλους
ἔκ-τοπος
out of place, strange
ἐκ τόπου
ἀπό-δημος
out of the country
ἀπὸ δήμου
ὑπ-εύθυνος
subject to accounting
ὑπʼ εὐθῡ́ναις

a. From the phrase ἐκ ποδῶν was made the adverb ἐκποδών (out of the way). On this model was formed the opposite ἐμποδών (in the way); from this was formed the adjective ἐμπόδιος and the verb ἐμποδίζω (418). In like manner from the phrase διὰ χειρῶν (through or in the hands), is made the verb διαχειρίζω (have in hand, manage).

449. Instead of a preposition the first member is sometimes a verbal adjective governing a noun as the second member, the whole being an adjective.

Compound Member
ἀξιό-λογος
worth mentioning
ἄξιος λόγου
ἀξιό-χρεωs
good for the obligation, sufficient
ἄξιος χρέους
ἰσό-θεος
equal to a god, godlike
ἴσος θεῷ
φιλο-κίνδῡνος
fond of danger
φίλος κινδῡ́νου

a. These are much like the verb-object compounds in 442; they are also like dependent compounds (446.a), in that one member depends on the other. But they are perhaps more like prepositional-phrase compounds (448); in both classes a familiar phrase, in which the first word governs the second, has received the inflection of an adjective.

Suggested Citation

Meagan Ayer, ed. Goodell’s School Grammar of Attic Greek. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2018. ISBN: 978-1-947822-10-8. http://dcc.dickinson.edu/grammar/goodell/compound-nouns-and-adjectives