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Similarities between Greek and Persian

I stumbled upon this video and thought others here may enjoy it as much as I did :)

The video features a Persian speaker and a Greek speaker. They’re playing a game where each person reads aloud a word in their own language and the other person tries to the guess the meaning. The words were chosen based on the similarity across both languages (in sound and in meaning).

Being a curious type who is fascinated by etymology, I of course, had to look them up :). I didn’t have a huge amount of time to devote to this mini-project, so Wiktionary was my only source, but feel free to dig deeper.

I’m leaving a gap here for those who want to play along without seeing the answers listed below.

Edit: PIE stands for Proto-Indo-European, more in the comments.











ρίζα from Ancient Greek, from PIE.
ریشه (rishe) from PIE.

کلید (keleed) from Middle Persian, from Ancient Greek.
κλειδί from Ancient Greek, from Proto-Hellenic, from PIE.

εκκλησία from Ancient Greek, from PIE.
کلیسا (keleesa) from Ancient Greek, from PIE.

استخوان (ostokhan) don't know :(
οστό from Ancient Greek, from PIE.

κανόνας from Ancient Greek. Prior to that, uncertain, possibly Akkadian or Pre-Greek.
قانون (ghanoon) from Arabic, from Ancient Greek.

اقیانوس (ogheanos) from Arabic, from Ancient Greek.
ωκεανός from Ancient Greek. Prior to that, uncertain, possibly Semitic, Sumerian or PIE.

τουρσί from Ottoman Turkish, from Persian.
ترشی (torshi) from PIE.

"Orange" (fruit)
پرتقال (porteghal) no etymology trail, looks a lot like the obsolete Persian word for "Portugal".
πορτοκάλι from Venetian for “Portugal”.

φλιτζάνι from Turkish, from Arabic, from Persian.
فنجان (fenjan) reborrowing from Arabic, from Persian, from Middle Persian, from Old Persian.

"Date" (fruit)
خرما (khorma) from Middle Persian, then it gets complicated...
χουρμάς from Ottoman Turkish, from Persian.

ηρεμία no info :(
آرام (aram) also no info :(

دو (dou) < Middle Persian < Proto-Iranian < Proto-Indo-Iranian < PIE.
δύο from Ancient Greek, from PIE.

σαπούνι < Byzantine Greek < Koine Greek< Ancient Greek, probably from Latin < Proto-Germanic < PIE.
صابون (sabon) < Middle Persian < Ancient Greek, probably from Latin < Proto-Germanic < PIE.

خربزه (kharbouzeh) from Middle Persian, possibly from Sanskrit.
καρπούζι from Ottoman Turkish, from Persian.

November 2, 2018



I love this channel. I just found the channel a few weeks ago and have been watching a ton of the episodes since. I really hope he does another episode of the similarities between Greek and another language.


Me too! Spanish and Italian would be great candidates. Arabic, German and French would be interesting too, I think.


this is a fab channel, tres cool, merci, very interesting!


Yes, I especially love the channel’s ethos “to bring people and nations closer together through language similarities and cultural commonalities” :)


@ S.Eleni I can't read the letters of persian language. For example "کلید from Middle Persian, from Ancient Greek. κλειδί from Ancient Greek, from Proto-Hellenic, from PIE" I propose to put near to persian letters the pronunciation in latin letters


That’s a good suggestion Ioanna, thanks. I’ve added in the translations and the transliteration from the video. Also, if you click on either the Greek or Persian words it will take you to the Wiktionary entry, which has more information such as the IPA, Wiktionary transliteration etc. However, I recommend watching the video if you haven’t already. It is far more entertaining than my post could ever be :) and you will hear the similarity of the Persian words.

[deactivated user]

    I have never thought Persian has some similar words with Greek whatsoever. I knew there are some loaned words in Persian from other languages such as German and French, But Greek was news to me. Thanks for sharing.


    It is a result of history, I suppose :) I suspected some of the words were similar due to shared PIE ancestry, and sure enough, that is the case with “root” and “two”.


    You can do a similar exercise with practically any two Indo-European languages. Greek is no more closely related to Persian than it is to other IE languages.

    Many of the cognates you point above are also similar to their English equivalent (i.e. root (EN), riza (GR), rishe (PE)), as well as to other IE languages (i.e. key (EN), kleidi (GR), keleed (PE), clef (FR - pronounced CLEH), klyuch (RU)....ekklesia (GR), keleesa (PE), iglesia (ES), igreja (PT), eglise (FR), and so on.

    Some of these have a common PIE ancestor, especially basic words like the word for "two" (and indeed, the word for "two" is similar in most IE languages). Others were borrowed from the same language: for example εκκλησια/ekklesia is a Greek word borrowed by other languages. It makes sense that Persian would take the Greek word for the Christian place of worsip: Christianity was, after all, largely shaped by the Greco-Roman world and the New Testament was written in Greek. Likewise, dates (the fruit) are not native to Greece and are not widely eaten in Greece, so Greeks would have to borrow a foreign word to refer to this foreign fruit that grows in the desert.


    I really should have included this in my original post (sorry!):

    PIE stands for Proto-Indo-European. It is the common ancestor of the Indo-European language family. In a sense, you could think of Persian and Greek as being ancient cousins (as are all the Indo-European languages) :)

    I won’t pretend to be an expert on the subject, so without further ado:




    [deactivated user]

      there are also two words with similar pronunciation in Persian but different in writing => Porteghal (orange) and Porteghal (portugal), just like the following:

      porteghal پرتقال(porteghal)= English: Orange (fruit).

      porteghal پرتغال(porteghal)= English: Portugal (country).

      mobl مبل(mobl)= French: La meubles. German: Möbel.

      shablon شابلون(shablon)= German: Schablone.

      asansor آسانسور(asansor)= French: l' ascenseur.

      samavar سماور(samavar)= Russian: Самовар.

      kamion کامیون(kamioon)= French: un camion.

      tereili Or tereyli تریلی(tereyli)= English: truck, Lorry.

      Note that "Kamion" is more common that "tereyli" in Persian but both are correct. (native Persian here).

      [deactivated user]

        there are much dozens of foreign loaned words in Persian which primarily are from French such as:

        balcon بالکن(balcon)= French: balcon.

        burushur بروشور(burushur)= French: brochure.

        bilit بلیط(bilit)= French: billet.

        bufe بوفه(bufe)= French: buffet.

        panseman پانسمان(panseman)= French: pansement.

        pomad پماد(pomad) = French: pommade.

        poonez پونز(poonez)= French: punaise.

        tablo تابلو(tablo)= French: tableau.

        tire تیره(tire)= French: tiret. (English: dash or hyphen).

        ananas آناناس(ananas)= French: ananas. (English: pineapple).

        avantazh آوانتاژ(avantazh)= French: avantage.

        abazhor آباژور(abazhor)=French: abat-jour. (english:lampshade).

        Ato آتو(ato)= French: atout.

        omlet املت(omlet)=French: omelette.

        ekip اکیپ(ekip)=French: équipe.

        odkolon ادکلن(odkolon)=French: eau de cologne.

        and so many words i don't have prescence of mind at the moment.


        Wow, do you know the reason/s behind the predominantly French influence? Greek has quite a few French words also, and French many Greek words, for a few reasons. History and a mutual love of the other culture and language being significant :)
        Persian is very high on my list of languages I want to learn. I really hope Duolingo adds it soon, now that they’ve gotten over the Arabic script hurdle.

        [deactivated user]

          I'm afraid not, I don't know why french words has been borrowed by languages such as Greek or Persian, there must be some significant background behind this. :)

          I have applied to contribute for Persian course on Duo, haven't heard yet. so many poeple also ask to take part, but seemingly Duo has illogical reasoning such as marketing or stuff. Arabic and Persian are alphabetically exactly the same with small difference.

          If you ever needed help for Persian language i would be exultant to help you out.:)


          Roughly 100 years ago, French was what English is today: it enjoyed international prestige. So, that's why many languages borrowed French words. For English too borrowed some French words during this period.

          For Greece and Southern Europe in general, there's also a cultural gravitation towards France. Whereas northern and central Europeans may feel closer to Germany and Austria.


          Greek and Persian:

          "to do" Persian: كردن (kardan) - Greek: κάνω (kano) -> "you do": کنی (koni), κάνεις (kanis) etc

          "to give" Greek: δίνω (dino), δίδωμι (didomi) in Ancient Greek - Persian: دادن (dodan)

          "to increase" Persian: افزایش (afzoyesh) - Greek: αυξάνω (afksano)

          "to bring" Greek: φέρνω/φέρω (ferno/fero) - Persian: اور (ower), بر (bor)

          "what" Persian: چی (tši) - Greek: τι (ti)

          "human/person" Greek: άτομο (atomo) - Persian: آدم (odam)

          "time" as in "two times" - Greek: φορά (fora) Persian: بار (bor)

          "or" Persian: یا (io) - Greek: ή (i)

          "as" Greek: ως (os) - Persian: از (as)

          "here" Persian: ایدر (edor) - Greek: εδώ (edo)

          "that" (subclausal) Persian: تا (to) - Greek: ότι (oti)

          "on"/"at" Greek: επί (epi) - Persian: به (be)

          "is" Persian: ِ (e) short form thats possible in speech - Greek: είναι (ine)

          "the" (accusative) - Greek: τον (ton) Persian: آن (on)

          "foot" Greek: πόδι (podi) - Persian: پا (po)

          "nail" (of body) Persian: ناخن (nachon) - Greek: νύχι (nichi)

          "back" Persian: پس (pase), پیش (pish) - Greek: πίσω (piso)

          "later" Greek: μετά (meta) - Persian: بهد (bad)

          "star" Greek: αστέρι (asteri) - Persian: ستاره (setore)

          "tooth" Persian: دندان (dandon) - Greek: δόντι (dondi)

          "name" Greek: όνομα (onoma) - Persian: نام (nom)

          "mother" Persian: مادر (modar) - Greek: μητέρα (mitera)

          "father" Greek: πατέρας (pateras) - Persian: پدر (pedar)

          "child" Persian: پسر (pesar) actually "boy" - Greek: παιδί (pedi)

          "life" Greek: ζωή (zoi), Ancient Greek: ζειν (zin) - Persian: زندگی (zendegi)

          "alive" Greek: ζωντανός (zondanos) - Persian: زنده (zendeh)

          "to stay" Persian: ماندن (mondan) - Greek: μένω (meno)

          "to stand" Greek: στέκομαι (stekome) - Persian: ایستادن (istodan)

          "to fall" Persian: افتادن (oftodan) - Greek: πέφτω (pefto)

          "to buy" Greek: αγοράζω (aghorazo) - Persian: خریدن (charidan)

          "word" Persian: لغت (loghat) - Greek: λόγος (loghos)

          "veranda" Greek: βεράντα (veranda) - Persian: برنده (baranda)

          "sand" Greek: άμος (amos) - Persian: ماسه (mose)

          "to burn" Greek: τσούζω (tsuzo) - Persian: سوز (suz)

          "tomorrow" Persian: فردا (fardo) - Greek: αύριο (avrio)

          "to pour/spill" Persian: ریختن (richtan) - Greek: ρίχνω (richno)

          "hair" Greek: μαλλί (mali) - Persian: مو (mu)

          "to play" Persian: بازی (bazi) - Greek: παίζω (pezo)

          "ledge" Persian: بایگانی (boigoni) - Greek: πάγκος (pagos)

          "coat" Greek: παλτό (palto) - Persian: پالتو (polto)

          "cotton" Persian: پنبه (pambe) - Greek: βαμβάκι (vamvaki)

          "oven" Greek: φούρνος (furnos) - Persian: فر (fer)

          "to build" Persian: ساختن (sochtan) - Greek: χτίζω (chtizo)

          "storage" Persian: انباری (ambori) - Greek: αμπάρι (ambari)

          "new" Greek: νέο (neo) - Persian: نو (nou)

          "round" Persian: گرد (gerd) - Greek: γύρος (ghiros)

          "brown" Greek: καφέ (kafe) - Persian: قهوه‌ای (gawei)

          "shelf" Greek: ράφι (rafi) - Persian: رف (raf)

          "crust"/"skin" Persian: پوسته (puste) - Greek: πέτσα (petsa)

          "tub"/"bathtub" Greek: μπάνιο (banio) - Persian: وان (won)

          "weight" Persian: بار (bor) - Greek: βάρος (varos)

          "two" Persian: دو (du) - Greek: δύο (dyo)

          "five" Greek: πέντε (pende) - Persian: پنج (pandš)

          "seven" Persian: هفت (haft) - Greek: εφτά (efta)

          "nine" Persian: نه (no) - Greek: εννέα (enea)

          "ten" Persian: ده (dah) - Greek: δέκα (deka)

          "to help" Greek: βοηθώ (voitho) - Persian: فایده (foiede)

          "feeling" Persian: احساس (ehsos) - Greek: αίσθηση (esthisi)

          "calm" Persian: آرام (orom) - Greek: ηρεμία (iremia)

          "rule" Greek: κανόνας (kanonas) - Persian: قانون (ghanun)

          "watermelon" Persian: خربزه‎ (kharboze) - Greek: καρπούζι (karpuzi)

          "cup" Greek: φλιτζάνι (flitzani) - Persian: فنجان (fenjan)

          "ocean" Greek: ωκεανός (okeanos) - Persian: اقیانوس (ogheanos)

          "bone" Greek: οστός (osto) - Persian: استخوان (ostochan)

          "church" Greek: εκκλησία (eklisia) - Persian: كلیسا (kelisa)

          "key" Greek: κλειδί (klidi) - Persian: كلید (kelid)

          "orange" Persian: پرتقال (porteghal) - Greek: πορτοκάλι (portokali)

          "root" Persian: ریشه (rishe) - Greek: ρίζα (risa)

          "equal/same"-prefix Greek: ομο- (omo-) - Persian: هم (hom-)

          "but" Greek: αλλά (ala) or όμως (omos) - Persian: ولی (wali) or ائا (amo)

          "while" Greek: ενώ (eno) - Persian: حین (hine)

          Words with similar meanings:

          (khordan) خوردن : "to eat" - (khortatos) χορτάτος : "fed up"

          (farg) فرق : "difference" - (faragi) φαράγγι : "cliff"

          (tup) توپ : "ball" - (tumba) τούμπα : "roll"

          (narm) نرم : "gentle/softly" - (armonia) αρμονία : "harmony"

          (kharid) بالا : "purchase" - (kharizo) χαρίζω : "to donate/give"

          (kenor) کنار : "next to each other" - (keno) κενό : "gap"

          (bolo) بالا : "up/above" - (poli) πολύ : "a lot"

          (mion) میان : "between" - (mion) μείον : "minus"

          (digar) دیگر : "different" - (dikhazo) διχάζω : "to divide"

          (gush) گوش : "ear" - (akus-) ακουσ- : stem for anything that has to do with hearing

          (emruz) امروز : "today" - (imera) ημέρα : "day"

          (rage) رگه : "vein" - (raga) ράγα : "rail"


          ◾ Possesion "my orange" Greek: το πορτοκάλι μου (to portokali mou) Persian: پرتقالم (portegal-am) using "of me" instead of "my" Greek: το πορτοκάλι από εμένα (to portokali apo emena) Persian: پرتقال من (portegal-e man)

          ◾ Aorist-Augment In Greek until today and in Persian until Middle Persian past forms of verbs are produced by adding an "e-" infront of the verb. This is found only in the languages of the Graeco-Aryan language family to which languages like Greek, Persian, Armenian and Sanskrit belong.

          ◾ Comparative Adjectives Both languages use the suffix "-ter" to form the comparative form of an adjective and they are the only languages that have this. "calm" -> "calmer" Greek: ήρεμος -> ηρεμότερος (iremos -> iremo-ter-os) Persian: آرامتر<- آرام (orom -> orom-ter)

          ◾ Diminutive To make nouns small in Greek one suffix you can add is "-άκι" (-aki). In Persian its either چه (-che) or the ک (-ak).

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/european_languages/languages/greek.shtml, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hellenic_languages (scroll to Classification), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graeco-Aryan

          Best regards

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