Verbal Nouns

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402. Nouns are made from verb stems by adding a variety of suffixes. The meaning of the suffix is often vague, made clear only by the nature of the verb, by the gender of the noun, or by usage. But many verbal nouns fall into fairly distinct classes, denoting the agent or doer, the action, the result of the action, or the instrument. Again, many abstract nouns and nouns of action have become concrete, so that the original force is changed.

a. The accent sometimes varies on different nouns with the same suffix. When the accent regularly falls on the suffix, that will be indicated; otherwise the accent must be learned from the examples and in reading.

403. The suffix -ο, nominative masculine and feminine -ος, neuter -ον, is one of the most common, of very various meaning; an -ε- in the verb stem regularly changes to -ο- (25).

Noun   Verb
λόγ-ος
speech
from λέγω (λεγ-)
speak
στόλ-ος
expedition
στέλλω (στελ-)
equip, send
δρόμ-ος
running course, race
δραμεῖν (δραμ-)
run
ζυγ-όν
yoke
ζεύγνῡμι (ζυγ-, ζευγ-)
join
νόμ-ος
custom, law
νέμω (νεμ-)
distribute
φόρ-ος
tribute
φέρω (φερ-)
bring, bear
ἀρχ-ός
ruler
ἄρχω (ἀρχ)
rule
τροφ-ός (ὁ, ἡ)
nurse
τρέφω (τρεφ-)
nourish

a. The suffix is accented when it denotes the agent.

b. Even nouns whose origin is obscure, or can be traced only by comparing other languages, plainly have this ending.

οἶκ-ος (house

χῶρος (place

404. The suffix -ᾱ, nominative -ᾱ or , forms many nouns. Most of them denote the action, but many have taken on a concrete meaning, so that the force of the suffix is very various.

Noun Verb
ἀρχ-ή
beginning, rule
ἄρχω (ἀρχ-)
am first
βουλ-ή
will, plan
βούλομαι (βουλ-)
wish
χαρᾱ́-
joy
χαίρω (χαρ-)
rejoice
μάχ-η
battle
μάχομαι (μαχ-)
fight
ἀγορᾱ́
marketplace
ἀγείρω (ἀγερ-)
gather
σπουδ-ή
haste, eagerness
σπεύδω (σπευδ-)
hasten

a. Most of these accent the suffix, but some common words accent the penult.

b. This ending also appears in many nouns whose origin is uncertain or traceable only by comparing other languages.

δίκ-η (ἡ) judgment (in law), right
χώρ-ᾱ (ἡ) land

405. The agent or doer is denoted by the suffixes.

Masculine Feminine
Suffix Nom. Suffix Nom.
-τηρ -τηρ -τειρᾱ -τειρᾰ
-τορ - τωρ -τριᾱ -τριᾰ
-τᾱ -της -τριδ, -τιδ -τρις, -τις
-ευ -εύς
(cp. 430.a)
Masculine Feminine Verb
σω-τήρ
savior
σώ-τειρα σῴζω (σω-)
save
συλ-λήπ-τωρ
helper
συλ-λήπ-τρια συλλαμβάνω (συν-ληβ-)
take with
ῥή-τωρ
speaker
εἴ-ρη-κα (ῥε:η-)
have spoken
ἵσ-τωρ (for ϝίδ-ωρ)
one who knοws
οἶδα (ἰδ-, οἰδ-)
know
ποιη-τής
maker, poet
ποιή-τρια ποιέω (ποιε:η-)
make
αὐλη-τής
flute-player
αὐλη-τρίς αὐλέω (αὐλε:η-)
play the flute
προ-φή-της
prophet
προ-φῆ-τις πρό-φημι (προ-φα:η-)
speak for
γραφ-εύς
writer
  γράφω (γραφ-)
write

406. The action is denoted by the following suffixes, but in many cases the meaning has become concrete.

Suffix Nom. Suffix Nom.
-τι -τις -ιᾱ -ίᾱ
-σι -σις -μο -μός
-σιᾱ -σίᾱ, -μᾱ -μη
Noun Verb
πίσ-τις
faith
πείθω (πιθ-)
win over, (mid.) trust
κρί-σις
decision>
κρῑ́νω (κρι-)
decide
πρᾶξις
action
πρᾱ́σσω (πρᾱγ-)
do
δοκιμα-σίᾱ
scrutiny
δοκιμάζω (δοκιμαδ-)
scrutinize
πεν-ίᾱ
poverty
πένομαι (πεν-)
am poor
παιδιᾱ́
play
παίζω (παιδ-)
play
ὀδυρ-μός
wailing
ὀδῡ́ρομαι (ὀδυρ-)
wail
δε-σ-μός
bοnd (400.b)
δέω (δε-)
bind
στα-θ-μός
station (400.b)
ἵστημι (στα-)
set
τῑ-μή
honor
τῑ́ω (τῑ)
honor
γνώ-μη
opinion
γιγνώσκω (γνο:ω-)
opine

a. From verb stems in -ευ (417.a) are formed many nouns in -ιᾱ. By loss of -υ- (27) -ευ-ιᾱ becomes -είᾱ.

Noun Verb
δουλείᾱ
slavery
δουλεύω (δουλευ-)
am a slave
βασιλείᾱ
reign, kingdοm
βασιλεύω (βασιλευ-)
am king

407. The result of an action is denoted by the following suffixes; but many nouns formed with them have other meanings.

-ματ, nom. -μα (neut.)
-εσ, nom.-ος (neut.)
Noun Verb
πρᾶγ-μα
deed, thing
πρᾱ́σσω (πρᾱγ-)
do
ποίη-μα
thing made, poem
ποιέω (ποιε:η-)
make
ὄμ-μα
eye (poet.)
ὄψομαι (ὀπ-)
shall see
γέν-ος
race
γίγνομαι (γεν-)
am born
ψεῦδ-ος
falsehood
ψεύδομαι (ψευδ-)
speak falsely
σθέν-ος
strength
σθένω (σθεν-)
am strong

408. The means or instrument— and also other relations— are denoted by -τρο or -θρο, nominative -τρον or -θρον.

Noun Verb
σκῆπ-τρον
staff
σκήπτω (σκηπ-)
prop
λου-τρόν
bath
λούω (λου-)
bathe
κλεῖ-θρον
fastening
κλείω- (κλει-)
close
ἄρ-θρον
joint
ἀραρίσκω (ἀρ-)
fit
βά-θρον
basis
βαίνω (βα-)
step, stand firm

a. A related suffix is -τρᾱ.

Noun Verb
παλαί-σ-τρᾱ
wrestling-place
παιλαίω (παλαι-)
wrestle
ὀρχή-σ-τρᾱ
dancing-place
ὀρχέομαι (ὀρχε:η-)
dance
χύ-τρᾱ (also χύ-τρος)
pot
χέω (χυ-)
pour

409. The various infinitives are a special class of verbal nouns (see 562).

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/verbal-nouns