Useful Greek Words That You Really Need To Know

  • by XpatAthens
  • Thursday, 23 April 2020
Useful Greek Words That You Really Need To Know
When Shakespeare wrote, 'It all sounds Greek to me' in his play Julius Caesar, he pretty much summed up how the Greek language sounds to a foreigner's ear. Incomprehensible as it may sound, Greek is notably rich in expressions and meanings; and knowing a few words may come in handy if you are traveling to Greece. But if you think this means sweating over an English-Greek dictionary, think again; because here you will find the Greek words that you really need to know.

Yia Sou

Possibly the most essential Greek phrase, and one of the most common Greek greetings, 'yia sou' [jaː su] is an informal way of saying 'hello.' What your Greek phrasebook probably won't tell you, is that 'yia' is a shorter version of 'iyia' [ijiːa], which means 'health' in Greek. By saying 'yia sou' you are greeting people by literally wishing them good health!


Ela is a Greek word with multiple meanings; It means '
come' or 'come on,' but Greeks also use it to casually answer the phone–given they know who is calling. By saying 'ela' they are not inviting the caller to come over; it is more of a way to acknowledge the caller and adding a friendly note to the phonecall.


'Meraki' is one of the most beautiful Greek words; it means doing something with love, enjoyment, and attention to detail. 'Meraki' derives from the Turkish 'Merak' and is applied to tasks, usually crafts, but can be applied to any task at all.


While in Greece, you will most probably want to say 'efharisto' [efχaristoː] or thank you to a few people. Even if you don't speak a word of Greek, it is imperative to master this one little word, as a form of appreciation to locals!


In case you were wondering, the natural reply to 'efharisto' is 'parakalo' [parakaloː] - the Greek word for 'you're welcome.' However, the Greek language often attributes multiple meanings to just one word so keep in mind that 'parakalo' could also mean 'please,' or 'how can I help you.'


To discover even more delightful little Greek words, please visit: