Aristotle’s Vocabulary

Aristotle’s Vocabulary

Aristotle’s Book Delta of his Metaphysics is commonly called Aristotle’s dictionary or lexicon. Below is a helpful list of Greek words used by Aristotle organized by their commonly accepted English equivalents.

This list is derived from Marc Cohen’s article “Aristotle’s Metaphysics” in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

•    accident: sumbebêkos (kata sumbebhko,j)
•    accidental: kata sumbebêkos (kata sumbebhko,j)
•    account: logos
•    actuality: energeia, entelecheia
•    alteration: alloiôsis
•    affirmative: kataphatikos
•    assertion: apophansis (sentence with a truth value, declarative sentence)
•    assumption: hupothesis
•    attribute: pathos
•    axiom: axioma
•    be: einai
•    being(s): on, onta
•    belong: huparchein
•    category: katêgoria
•    cause: aition, aitia
•    change: kinêsis, metabolê
•    come to be: gignesthai
•    coming to be: genesis
•    contradict: antiphanai
•    contradiction: antiphasis (in the sense “contradictory pair of propositions” and also in the sense “denial of a proposition”)
•    contrary: enantion
•    definition: horos, horismos
•    demonstration: apodeixis
•    denial (of a proposition): apophasis
•    dialectic: dialektikê
•    differentia: diaphora; specific difference, eidopoios diaphora
•    distinctive: idios, idion
•    end: telos
•    essence: to ti ên einai, to ti esti
•    essential: en tôi ti esti, en tôi ti ên einai (of predications); kath’ hauto (of attributes)
•    exist: einai
•    explanation: aition, aitia
•    final cause: hou heneka (literally, “what something is for”)
•    form: eidos, morphê
•    formula: logos (lo,goj)
•    function: ergon
•    genus: genos
•    homonymous: homônumon
•    immediate: amesos
•    impossible: adunaton
•    in respect of itself: kath’ hauto
•    individual: atomon, tode ti
•    induction: epagôgê
•    infinite: apeiron
•    kind: genos, eidos
•    knowledge: epistêmê
•    matter: hulê
•    movement: kinêsis
•    nature: phusis
•    negation (of a term): apophasis
•    particular: en merei, epi meros (of a proposition); kath’hekaston (of individuals)
•    peculiar: idios, idion
•    per se: kath’ hauto
•    perception: aisthêsis
•    perplexity: aporia
•    possible: dunaton, endechomenon; endechesthai (verb: “be possible”)
•    potentially: dunamei
•    potentiality: dunamis
•    predicate: katêgorein (verb); katêegoroumenon(“what is predicated”)
•    predication: katêgoria (act or instance of predicating, type of predication)
•    principle: archê (starting point of a demonstration)
•    qua: hêi
•    quality: poion
•    quantity: poson
•    refute: elenchein, refutation, elenchos
•    separate: chôriston (cwristo,n)
•    said in many ways: pollachôs legetai
•    science: epistêmê
•    soul: psuchê
•    species: eidos
•    specific: eidopoios (of a differentia that “makes a species”, eidopoios diaphora)
•    subject: hupokeimenon (u`pokei,menon)
•    substance: ousia (ouvsia)
•    term: horos
•    this: tode ti (to,de ti)
•    universal: katholou (both of propositions and of individuals)
•    wisdom: sophia

About the Author

Taylor Marshall is the Adjunct Instructor in Philosophy at the University of Dallas.