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The OE. Crécas pl., corresponds to OHG. Chrêch, Chriech (MHG. Kriech), Goth. Krêks:{em}*Krêko-z, an early Teut. adoption of L. Græcus, pl. Græc{imac} (see below), the name applied by the Romans to the people called by themselves. The substitution of k for g is commonly accounted for by the supposition that the Teut. initial g, when the word was adopted, still retained its original pronunciation, so that k would be the Teut. sound nearest to the Latin g. In all the Teut. langs. the word was ultimately refashioned after Latin, with change of k into g; hence OE. Grécas pl. beside Crécas, MDu. Grieke (Du. Griek), mod.Ger. Grieche, ON. Grikkir pl. In branch II the n. is an absolute use of GREEK a.

The L. Græc is said by Aristotle (Meteor. I. xiv) to have been the prehistoric name of the Hellenes in their original seats in Epirus. The word is an adjectival derivative of Graius, which is used in Latin as a poetical synonym of Græcus. Recent scholars think the name may have been brought to Italy by colonists from Eub{oe}a, where there is some evidence of its having existed: see Busolt Gr. Gesch. I.2 198.]


I.1. a. A native of Greece; a member of the Greek race.

c893 K. ÆLFRED Oros. V. xii. §4 {Th}a foran hi on Crecas. c900 tr. Bæda's Hist. IV. xxxii. [xxxi.] (1890) 378 Mid {th}a a{edh}le {asg}eslæ{asg}ene..{th}e Grecas nemna{edh} paralysis. c1200 ORMIN 17560 Forr werelld iss nemmnedd Cossmos, Swa summ {th}e Grickess ki{th}enn. c1275 LAY. 801 Lete{th} {th}e Greckes [earlier text {th}a Grickisca] glide to grunde. 1398 TREVISA Barth. De P.R. XIX. cxxviii. (1495) 935 All rounde thynges ben callyd Mala amonge the Grekys. c1400 Destr. Troy 40 Homer..{Th}at with the Grekys was gret. c1400 tr. Secreta Secret., Gov. Lordsh. (E.E.T.S.) 66 {Th}e bigynynge of Philosophye hadden Indes, Grecys, Percys and Latyns. 1535 COVERDALE John xii. 20 There were certayne Grekes (among them that were come vp to Ierusalem to worshipe at the feast). 1605 DANIEL Ulisses & Siren 1 Come worthy Greeke, Ulisses, come. 1662 STILLINGFL. Orig. Sacr. III. ii. §2 Those who were renowned among the Greeks for wisdome and learning. 1839 THIRLWALL Greece II. XIV. 216 The artful Greek..persuaded Darius of his innocence. 1842 PRICHARD Nat. Hist. Man 200 The Greeks are generally tall, and finely formed. 1871 J. CAIRD Univ. Serm. (1898) i. 19 The Greek with his hereditary love of freedom and art. 1875 JOWETT Plato (ed. 2) III. 31 A Greek in the age of Plato.

2. A member or adherent of the Greek Church.

3. A Hellenized Jew; = GRECIAN B. 1b. Obs.

4. A cunning or wily person; a cheat, sharper, esp. one who cheats at cards. (Cf. F. grec.)

5. Qualified by merry, mad, gay: A merry fellow; a roysterer; a boon companion; a person of loose habits. See GRIG n.1 5; the relation between the two words is uncertain.

6. slang. An Irishman. (Cf. GRECIAN.)

II. [absol. use of the adj.: see etymology.]

7. The language of a native of Greece or one of Greek race; the Greek language. Also, a particular form or period of the language, as late Greek, Ionic Greek, modern Greek.

8. Unintelligible speech or language, gibberish. Also heathen Greek (rarely Hebrew-Greek). (Cf. Hebrew.) St. Giles's Greek: slang.

9. pl. Typogr. Greek characters or types.

III. 10. attrib. and Comb., as (sense 1) Greek-peopled, speaking adjs., (sense 7) Greek factory. (See also GREEK a. 2.) Hence Greekess, a female Greek, a Greek woman; Greekless a., having no Greek; without knowledge of Greek.

See also