δέω + λίαν

Validation

Yes

Word-form

δειλία

Transliteration (Word)

deilia

English translation (word)

cowardice

Transliteration (Etymon)

deō + lian

English translation (etymon)

bind + excessively

Author

Plato

Century

4 BC

Source

Id.

Ref.

Cratylus 415c2-5

Ed.

Burnet, Platonis Opera, Oxford UP, 1903

Translation (En)

Now the meaning of deilia “cowardice” is "a strong bond of the soul"; for lian "excessively" is, in a way, expressive of strength; so deilia “cowardice” would be the lian “excessive” or greatest desmos bond” of the soul (Transl. by H. N. Fowler)

Other translation(s)

Modern Greek: Η σημασία της "δειλίας" λοιπόν είναι τα 'ισχυρά δεσμά της ψυχής'· γιατί το λίαν εκφράζει, κατά κάποιον τρόπο, την 'ισχύ'. Επομένως, η "δειλία" θα λέγαμε ότι είναι τα ισχυρότερα ή μεγαλύτερα δεσμά της ψυχής

Comment

The point of departure of this etymology is the accusative δειλίαν, analyzed as a univerbation of the phrase δεῖ λίαν "binds excessively". From that is abstracted the nominative δειλία by deletion of the "accusative ending" -n. Starting from inflected forms whenever it is convenient was not unusual in ancient etymological practice. This etymology is not repeated after Plato, and lexicographers prefer an alternative analysis linking it with δέος "fear", which is correct.

Modern etymology

Δειλία is an abstract noun in -ία derived from δειλός "coward", belonging with δέος "fear", δείδω "I fear". Indo-European root *dwei-.

Persistence in modern Greek

The word "δειλία" is still used in Modern Greek with the same meaning, i.e., 'cowardice'.