Greek Words With Many Vowels

This a quick, fun post about words in Greek with too many consecutive vowels. I had never given this topic much thought until I came across this interesting little post by Alistair Wilson. That got me to thinking and researching a little bit, and the results were fascinating!

The Greek language seems to be more liberal with its vowels than English. There aren’t very many English words with more than two or three consecutive vowels. Sure, there are lists like this one, and funny articles like this one, but the vast majority of English words with lots of vowels are borrowed from other languages (like Greek 🙂 ).

So let’s start with the big guys! Here’s a (very short) list of Greek words with six consecutive vowels. Not only are there six vowels all in a row, but these Greek words are made up only of vowels! No consonants allowed. 🙂

Hover (or tap) the footnote numbers to see what the word means, and where you can find an example of it being used.

Six Vowel Greek Words

  • Εὐαῖοι1
  • Εὐαίου2
  • Οὐήϊοι3

Interestingly, the six vowel words found above are “borrowed” too (or, more properly, transliterated from Hebrew and Latin, so they’re not technically “Greek” words, but loanwords.)

Five Vowel Greek Words

  • οἴοιο4
  • ἠοῖαι5
  • ἰαυοῖ6
  • Ὑαῖοι7
  • ὠαιαί8
  • ὠοιοί9

Four Vowel Greek Words

  • αἰαῖ10
  • αἰεί11
  • ἑοῖο12
  • εὐαί13
  • οὐαύ14
  • οὐαὶ15
  • οἴει16
  • ὕεια17
  • υἱοῦ18
  • υἱοὶ19
  • οἰοῖ20

Three Vowel Greek Words

  • ἀεί21
  • εἴη22
  • υἱέ23
  • εἴα24
  • ἰοῦ25

Greek Words With Only One Consonant (But lots of Vowels)

  • εἰοικυῖαι26
  • Ἰουδαῖοι27
  • ἰοῦται28
  • ἑαυτοῦ29
  • ἐᾶσαι30
  • εἴασα31
  • εἰσῄει32
  • εὐνοίᾳ33
  • οἴομαι34
  • ἠοίους35
  • ἔοικα36
  • ὑαίνῃ37
  • ἀθεεὶ38

Other Interesting Greek Words With Many Vowels

ἀάατος39

How I Found These Words

When I first started looking, I just used some educated guesses. Then I tried typing random series of vowels into Accordance Bible Software‘s search bar, and looking down through the suggested results. Finally, I got more serious about finding the words, so I turned to regex. I used the following expression to search through both the Greek New Testament and the Greek Old Testament (LXX) for more words:

\b[αειουωηὰάὲέὴήὶίὸόὺύὼώ\x{1f00}-\x{1fff}]{4,}\b

Eventually, I found a better way to do the same search!

\b[[=α=][=ε=][=ι=][=η=][=ο=][=υ=][=ω=]]{4,}\b

Finally, I started turning to extra-biblical sources. I found several of the words by searching in this list of Greek headwords using my regex search above. Another invaluable tool was Perseus, which I used for finding examples of those words in Greek literature. A few more words were located by doing a wildcard search (e.g. for ‘*υιαι’) with University of Chicago’s PhiloLogic4 tool for Greek.

Did you find a word that I missed? Comment below, and I’ll add it to the list!

  1. (Hivites – Deuteronomy 2:23 LXX)
  2. (genitive singular of “Hivite” – Genesis 26:34 LXX)
  3. (Latin=Veii – Plut. Rom. 25)
  4. (2nd singular present optative middle of οἴομαι – The Symposium of Plato 194c)
  5. (noun from ἠοῖος  “of the morning” – Plut. De Sera 12)
  6. (exclamation of sorrow – Aristoph. Frogs 1006)
  7. (see HYLEThucydides, The Peloponnesian War 3.101)
  8. (exclamation of pain – See LSJ ὠαιαί)
  9. (same as above – See LSJ ὠοιοί)
  10. interjection “ah!” – Aesch. Pers. 256
  11. adverb “ever, always” – Aesch. Ag. 750
  12. (from ἑός “his, her own” – Hesiod, Theogony 453)
  13. (from εὐάζω, “cry”- Aristophanes, Ecclesiazusae 1163)
  14. (transliteration of the Hebrew letter “waw” – Lamentations 1:6)
  15. (interjection “Woe!” – Luke 10:13)
  16. (2nd singular present middle indicative of οἴομαι “to suppose” – Job 37:23 LXX)
  17. (neuter plural accusative of “pigs” – 1 Maccabees 1:47)
  18. (genitive singular of υἱός “son” – Matthew 1:1)
  19. (nominative plural of υἱός “son” – Matthew 5:9)
  20. (adjective: plural masculine nominative of οἶος Aesch. Pers. 932)
  21. (adverb “always” – Psalm 94:10 LXX)
  22. (third singular present optative of ἐιμί – Luke 1:29)
  23. (vocative for “son” – Matthew 8:29)
  24. (3rd singular imperfect active indicative of ἐάω – Luke 4:41)
  25. (genitive singular “rust” – James 3:8)
  26. (participle plural perfect active feminine nominative of ἔοικα “to be like” – Hom. Il. 18.388)
  27. (plural of Ἰουδαῖος “Jews” – John 2:18)
  28. (3rd sing. pres. mid. indic. of ἰόομαι – Jo. Dam. 31.288)
  29. (3rd masculine singular genitive from αὐτός “of himself, his own (reflexive)” – Mark 8:35)
  30. (aorist active infinitive of ἐάω – Esther 3:8 LXX)
  31. (1st singular aorist active indicative of ἐάω – Job 31:34 LXX)
  32. (3rd singular imperfect active indicative of εἴσειμι – Acts 21:18)
  33. (feminine singular dative from εὔνοια “good will” – Esther 13:3 LXX [B.3])
  34. “suppose” – Soph. OC 1
  35. (adj plural masc accusative, from ἠοῖος “of the morning” – Hdt. 4.160)
  36. verb, perfect, “to be like” – Aesch. Ag. 1156
  37. (feminine singular dative of ὕαινα, “hyena”- Sirach 13:18)
  38. (adverb, “without the aid of God” – Hom. Od. 18.337)
  39. (noun “not to be injured, inviolable” – Homer Illiad 14.270)

6 thoughts on “Greek Words With Many Vowels”

  1. I never know how to pronounce these types of words when I am doing my daily reading.

    I mean, I know how they are “meant” to be pronounced, but they are still awkward 🙂

    Reply
      • Yes, I agree. It’s great to meet a fellow Greek geek! 🙂
        Thanks, I appreciate your kind words, and I will add that I like your site as well! My favorite part is the dictionary with parsing tables for all the inflected forms of the word. Curious, will you be adding the LXX to your list of available reading texts?

        Reply
        • Yes, I would love to get it in the site, but my focus at the moment is putting together a series of video/activity lessons designed to help people learn, and maybe more importantyl, keep their Greek. Kind of like Daily Dose of Greek, but instead of being focussed on parsing, I want a library of easy to read simple greek text that goes from super easy to read, to bible level (after that point people can just read the bible). I think the gap between “first year greek + intermediate greek grammar” and “reading the bible super comfortably” can be decreased. And I am wondering if its possible to create material that will speed up the process of getting from “basic greek” to “reading the bible comfortably”.

          For the LXX, I need to find out how it works with licensing. The main Greek LXX people use on websites has some documentation that needs to be completed to ask for permission and I don’t know what conditions are attached to that. I kind of prefer the idea that there be a fully free unrestricted Greek text that anyone is free to use forever. But I think to achieve that I would have to scan the older out of copyright edition and do a bunch of manual tidying and parsing. Which is probably far too ambitious for me to take on. Im not sure. (I have an interest in the idea of software that can auto tag/parse scanned text, but again, I am not sure how much work that would be, I don’t expect it to be easy, but imagine if that can be applied to all other non parsed Greek manuscripts we have. I think it would be very cool)

          Reply
          • Yes!! I would love to see that happen! I think there are others with a similar vision as well, including my Greek teacher. I agree that there is a great need for beginner-level comprehensible input that can a new Greek student can use to get “over the hump” of the first shock of learning a new language and getting to the place where he can read things that he can understand and grow in.
            Have you heard of https://greek-learner-texts.org/texts/? Looks like a good amount of work is being done already, so maybe you could benefit/collaborate to help the dream become a reality!
            Yeah, I know what you mean about the LXX and licensing… I’ve been researching it a bit, and have come to very similar conclusions. Just the other day I came across an open license LXX text though! Check it out at: https://github.com/OpenGreekAndLatin/First1KGreek/tree/master/data/tlg0527
            For a human-readable version, see here: https://scaife.perseus.org/reader/urn:cts:greekLit:tlg0527.tlg001.opp-grc2:1/ We’ve been talking in Greek class about putting out an open-source LXX reader with morphology, etc, and I don’t think it would actually be that difficult with all of the tools available to use nowadays!

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