English Words of (Unexpected) Greek Origin.

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Etymology of Basil.

Posted by Johannes on 7 February 2010

Origin of Basil.
The male proper name Basil is a transliteration of the Greek name Basilios, which derives from the word basileus (better pronounced as vasileus), which means king (βασιλεύς).

The etymology of basileus is controversial. Most probably it consists of two words: (a) bas- (base; from the verb veno (βαίνω): go, move ahead – from which also comes the latin verb venire-) and (b) leus (leos -λεώς-: people – from which also comes the English word leity). So basileus (king) literally means the one who is based on the people*.

Saint Basil the Great (330-379) was archibishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia and one of the fathers of the Christian church.

Icon of Saint Basil the Great.


The name Basil was also borne by two Roman emperors, namely Basil I (867 -886) and Basil II (976-1025).

Other forms of the name:
Basile, Basilic, Basilides, Basiliki (fem), Basileios, Basilie, Basilio, Basilius, Bazeel, Bazeelius, Bazil, Bazyli, Vasile, Vasileos, Vasili, Vasiliki (fem), Vasilije, Vasilios, Vasilis, Vasilius, Vasilus, Vasily, Vassilij, Vassily, Wassily.

From the same root:
basil (the herb), basilica, basilic.
Basile, basilique, basilic
Italian: Basilio, basilica, basilico
Basilio, basilica
German: Basilius, Basilika, Basilikum

In modern Greek (Romeika, the language of Romei/Romans/Ρωμηοί)
a) Basilios: Basil [Βασίλειος] …………………………………… (better pronounced as Vasilios)
b) basilia: reign, royalty, kingship [βασιλεία] …………. (vasilia)
c) basilio: kindom [βασίλειο] ……………………………… (vasilio)
d) basilevo: reign, rule (over) [βασιλεύω] ………………. (vasilevo)
e) basilias: king [βασιλιάς] ………………………………… (vasilias)
f) basilissa: queen [βασίλισσα] ……………………………. (vasilissa)
g) basilicos: basil (herb) [βασιλικός] ……………………… (vasilicos)


Το όνομα Basil προέρχεται από το ελληνικό όνομα Βασίλειος, το οποίο με τη σειρά του προέρχεται από το βασιλεύς.

Post: 131.

*: some say that basileus literally means the one that leads the people.


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