English owes a lot to ancient Greece. Not least, countless long words (polysyllabic is one), some almost straight from Greek, like organize and therapeutic, many more put together by scientists and other thinkers.
Those people have adapted and used umpteen Greek nouns, as in -logy (word), -nomy (law), -graphy (writing), andro- (man), gyne- (woman), theo- (god), photo- (light), hypno- (sleep), demo- (people); and many more specialized ones, for parts of the body or of plants, for instance. The Greek ge (earth or world) turns up in geology and geometry, polis (city) in politics. Adjectives too, such as mega- and micro- (maxi- and mini- are Latin). Others include iso- (equal), poly- (many), philo- (loving), phobo- (fearing), leuco- (white), gluco- or glyco- (sweet) and more.
Thousands of these scientific words exist. Few of us have ever met most of them, or need to, though any child knows of dinosaurs (terrible-lizard) and maybe pterodactyls (wing-finger). Most are fairly modern: telegraph (far-write) and psychopath (soul-suffering), for example. But some are older than you’d expect: psychology was around before 1700, and metamorphosis (after-change) by 1550. And some, via Latin, long before that: philosophy (loving-wisdom), for example.
We also use many Greek prefixes, such as anti- (against), a- or an- (not), ana- (up), cata- (down), dia- (through) epi- (upon), hyper- (beyond), hupo- (under), meta- (after) para- (beyond), peri- (around), sym- or syn- (with). Scientists love these, but they are also widespread in simple words such as diagram or epitaph, many of which reached us — often through Latin —little changed from the original Greek.
Though pedants object, English readily mates Greek with Latin, as in amoral, hypermarket, paranormal, polyvalent, television. Bicycle joins the Latin for twice with the Greek for wheel. Would you guess the mongrel bike was Greek-born?
Not many simple words are so: place and type, for example, or such rarer ones as chaos, demon and enigma. That is natural: it was Romans, then sundry north Europeans, who invaded Britain, not Greeks. But the Romans brought in some borrowed Greek, and more came via late Latin, whether directly — learned Europeans usually wrote in Latin until about 1650 — or via Norman French, which brought stomach, for instance, and bigamous, another mongrel.
English has a few problems with its Greek. Why autarchy but autarky, usually pronounced alike, but spelt differently? Answer: two distinct Greek words, meaning rule and supply respectively. Why aristocracy but idiosyncrasy? Ditto (power and mixture). Why idiosyncrasy but ideology? Ditto (own/personal and idea). Why organize but analyse? Our -ize began as a Greek verb ending -izo. Most Britons write -ise. Americans use -ize. So they write analyze (and paralyze). But they spell the nouns -ysis. Wise (wize?) maybe; these come from a Greek noun so spelt, no kin of -izo whatever.
The weirdest ‘problem’ I’ve met was in a textbook of grammar, Wren and Martin, much used, I’m told, in India. It talks of “compound prepositions... generally formed by prefixing a preposition (usually a- = no or be = by) to a noun, adjective or adverb” and gives along, above, etc, as examples. That’s an odd definition of ‘compound preposition’ anyway. But far odder is the notion that this a- prefix has anything to do with no. Is that a simple misprint for to? Or did some revising editor know a little too much ancient Greek? Or Sanskrit, possibly? Whatever the reason, it’s wrong. Someone should tell the publishers.