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.

November 2, 2018

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

November 5, 2018

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

November 3, 2018

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

November 5, 2018

@ 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

November 3, 2018

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.

November 5, 2018

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.

November 2, 2018

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”.

November 5, 2018

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:

November 9, 2018

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).

November 9, 2018

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.

November 9, 2018

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.

November 18, 2018

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.:)

November 19, 2018
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