A semantic and etymological study on Greek ἀραρίσκω 'to adapt' and its cognates

Recherches de sémantique et d'étymologie sur gr. ἀραρίσκω « adapter » et les mots apparentés
Start - End 
2018 - 2022 (ongoing)
Department of Linguistics
Other institution(s) 
École Pratique des Hautes Études
Research Focus 
Research Methodology 
Additional tags 



The purpose of this project is to perform a semantic and etymological study of the Greek verb ἀραρίσκω ‘to adapt’ and its cognates. The origin of the word, i.e. its original shape and meaning, will be explored. A key element in this investigation is its verbal root, which can be linked to the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) language. This root gave birth to hundreds of different words in the various Indo-European languages. Its traces can be found in common English words such as harmony, order and rite.

During the first phase I will examine other Greek words of which it is assumed that they contain the same root as ἀραρίσκω. Examples are ἀριθμός ‘number’ (cf. arithmetic) and ἄριστος ‘best, strongest, bravest’ (cf. aristo-cracy). Although various etymological hypotheses have been advanced for each of them, these have never been brought together in a comprehensive survey the purpose of which is to find sufficient proof to connect all of most of them. This aspect of the study will offer new insights into the connection between these words.

The next phase will be dedicated to the reconstruction of the exact shape and meaning of this common root. Several possibilities have been proposed, but an in-depth examination is still lacking. One of the main difficulties is that the words that are believed to be derived from this one root, have strikingly divergent meanings. However, the outcome of the first part of the project and the study of a selection of Anatolian words, which possibly also share this root, will provide indications of its origins.

Once the riddle is solved, the semantic and morphological development from the PIE root to ἀραρίσκω and all its cognates can be reconstructed.




Phd Student(s)


Georges-Jean Pinault

École Pratique des Hautes Études