1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Greek
  4. >
  5. "Ένα ερπετό"

"Ένα ερπετό"

Translation:A reptile

September 16, 2016



Herpetology. Everything makes sense.


Etymolgy of ερπετό: from ancient Greek ἑρπετόν (reptile, a creeping animal) from ἑρπω (to crawl), pronounced /hérpo/. Now notice the similarities with the words serpente in Italian, सर्प (sarpá) in Sanskrit, etc. Indo-European languages are amazing!


Is there a link with herpes, the medical condition?


Yes there is. It wasn't until the 19th century that we understood the different germs that caused the different diseases, so before then the word "herpes" was used to refer to many different skin conditions (including shingles and gangrene). The word "herpes" itself comes from the Ancient Greek word for shingles (ἕρπης, herpes) which is from ἕρπω ‎(to creep) which also gives us έρπετο.

  • 233

Yes, amazing and thank you for adding these posts to our thread.


and both the Greek ερπετό/reptile and έρπης/ herpes come from Gr. έρπω/creep, crawl from **I.E. ser-p- / creep (Λεξικό Νέας Ελληνικής Γλώσσας του Γ. Μπαμπινιώτη)

Online Etymology Dictionary http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0=word gives

En. herpes from La from Gr see above Babiniotis

En. reptile from La from I.E. repto/ creep

En. serpent from La serpentem from La serpere (creep) from I.E. serp (creep)

So what is to creep/ crawl in I.E. , serp or repto?


This happens in all language families though, like the word ʔab, meaning father. It has the same meaning in the Cushitic, Berber, Chadic and Semitic sub families.

  • 233

Thanks ido504 for adding this. I'm enthralled with all things to do with languages and in particular the roots of words.


I believe that "A serpent" should be a valid answer too. What do you think?

  • 233

Yes, and I thought it was one of the accepted translations. I've added it now. Many thanks.


Thank you for all these comments. My heart now goes out to all the poor reptiles and their association with Shingles, Herpes Zoster. Seriously, does anyone have any more good suggestions for mnemonics for difficult to remember Greek words?

  • 233

One idea that might help is the Greek suffix: συ/συν/συμ which very often corresponds to the English: co/com/con. E.g.

συνεργασία= cooperation, co-operation. collaboration


συνεργάτης= co-worker, ("εργατης=worker")

There are numerous examples of this sort. Of course, there are the many words in English from Greek in particular in the fields of science.

I'm looking for a long poem using English words of Greek origin but can't find it. In the meantime, have a look at these two sites I find beneficial.




Can someone correct me if this is wrong, but isn't "reptile" supposed to be translated "ερπων" and "ερπετό" translated "reptilian"?


No. Reptile is a noun 1. an animal that has cold blood and skin covered in scales 2. a groveling, sneeking person and the Greek noun ερπετό fulfills both 1 and 2. Reptilian is an adjective = του ερπετού, των ερπετών/ belonging tonreptiles OR ερπετοειδής/ characteristic of reptiles

  • 132

Adding to what kirakrakra said: Έρπων means "the one who creeps, crawls". Ερπετά are έρποντα (plural neuter of έρπων) but it's not the same.


erpeto means also SNAKE so I don;t see why DUO makes me wrong ! Erpetologia is the science that studies snakes and other reptiles. SERPENT EN FRANCAIS. SERPIENTE EN ESPANOL ( CASTELLANO), SERPENTO EM PORTUGUES, REPTILE IS REPTILE IN FRENCH, REPTIL EN CASTELLANO, REPTIL EM PORTUGUES, but in Latin America we tend to call them CULEBRAS which is COULEUVRE IN FRENCH. . DIE SCHLANGE AUF DEUTSCH. Yes, all our Indo-European languages mostly share the same roots.

  • 233

We appreciate your input and as you state Erpetologia (Herpetology in Eng) is the science that studies snakes and other reptiles.

Therefore, the translation of "ερπετό" is the class of animal not one specific member of that class. Reptiles are tetrapod animals in the class Reptilia, comprising today's turtles, crocodilians, snakes, amphisbaenians, lizards, tuatara, and their extinct relatives.

"Herpetology" also encompasses "amphibians".


Unfortunately, ερπετό could also refer to a crocodile, a lizard, an alligator, or even a turtle, not just a snake. We can't include it in the translations. It would be like adding the word dolphin as an alternative for mammal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reptile

Don't worry. We've done our research. ^.^


All these reptil, serpiente words are borrowed from Latin reptilis resp. serpens

Both the Greek ερπετό and Latin reptilis/ serpens come from I.E. ser-p = crawl, see also Apogeotou

In Swedish we have "reptil" as a dead borrowed word from Latin and kräldjur a word with life which is connected with the Sw. kräla = crawl

In German ερπετό = kriechtier, compare Sw. kriechen = kräla and tier = djur

Schlange = snake

  • 233


The new male voice really butchers this.

  • 233

This should be reported in the Official Duolingo link for the audio

Greek Course Audio Update


Learn Greek in just 5 minutes a day. For free.