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Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The Greek word: λεγω
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Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary

λεγω

The verb λεγω (lego), meaning to speak intelligently. It sometimes occurs as synonym of the verb καλεω (kaleo), meaning to call, but it should be distinguished from the verb λαλεω (laleo), meaning talk, especially without any sense.

The meaning of verb λεγω (lego) underwent an interesting evolution. It originally denoted a lying down to sleep. Then it slowly began to mean to lie together and to collect and finally it came to mean to lay before or to relate, or simply to say, speak, to deliver a discourse.

The Biblical applications of our verb generally fall into three categories:

  • To lay before, or relate or narrate messages such as parables or events (Luke 18:1, Luke 9:21).
  • To say, speak or disclose (Matthew 1:20, Mark 5:30, Galatians 5:16, Revelation 6:6).
  • To call or name; synonymous with the verb καλεω (kaleo).

Direct derivations of this verb are:

  • The feminine noun λογια (logia), meaning a collection, usually of money (1 Corinthians 16:1).
  • The noun λογος (logos), meaning intelligence, or "word" in the sense of the expression of that intelligence, discourse and even something as undefined as "thing" (Matthew 5:32, Matthew 8:8, Luke 4:22, Acts 14:12, Hebrews 13:17). It exists in modern English in words such as psychology and sociology.
Lego in Latin

Our verb also exists in Latin, and according to Lewis and Short A Latin Dictionary was imported from Greek. It even exists in German as lesen, which is usually considered as two separate verbs, one denoting the gathering of grains; to glean, and the other meaning to read. It's even related to the English verb to lease (says Friedrich Kluge's An Etymological Dictionary of the German Language).

In Latin the verb lego means to bring together, to gather or to collect. From there it captured the meaning of to select or choose, and became subsequently also used in the meaning of catching up on a conversation or to catch something with the senses (to hear, see, etc), or even to read out loud or recite.

One interesting derivation of this verb is the noun legio, legionis, denoting a Roman legion, a military unit consisting of between 4,200 and 6,000 men, or legiones (formed from lego in the sense of a selecting or choosing, says Lewis and Short's).

In the Bible this noun occurs three times, transliterated back to Greek, as λεγεων (legeon): in one context to denote a large number of demons (Mark 5:9, 5:15 and Luke 8:30) and once of angels (Matthew 26:53).

There is another verb lego in Latin, which conjugates differently from the previous one and is probably a whole different verb, but not without similarities. It means to dispatch, appoint or send as an ambassador, but is also used in a legal context with the meaning of to appoint or bequeath. It joins the previous verb in the phrase legati legionum, meaning commanders of a legion.

Compound derivations of this verb that are used in the Greek New Testament are:
  • The verb αντιλεγω (antilego), which consists of (1) the familiar preposition αντι (anti), meaning against, and (2) our verb λεγω (lego), meaning to speak. This verb literally means to speak against, and is used in the Bible to mean to deny (Luke 20:27), to contradict (Acts 13:45), to oppose (John 19:12), or to disobey (Romans 10:21). Derived from this verb is:
    • The noun αντιλογια (antilogia), meaning literally meaning a contradiction but in the Bible used in the sense of a controversy or strife (Hebrews 6:16), or a reproach (Hebrews 12:3).
  • The verb γενεαλογεω (genealogeo), which consists of (1) the noun γενεα (genea), meaning generation, and (2) our verb λεγω (lego), meaning to speak. This verb indicates the belonging of someone to a certain lineage; the being inscribed into a genealogy (Hebrews 7:6). From this verb comes:
    • The noun ανενεαλογηος (agenealogetos) consisting of (1) the preposition α (a), meaning without, and (2) our verb γενεαλογεω (genealogeo). The whole construction indicates someone without an established genealogy (Hebrews 7:3).
    • The noun γενεαλογια (genealogia), meaning genealogy (1 Timothy 1:4).
  • The verb διαλεγομαι (dialegomai), which consists of the preposition δια (dia), meaning through or throughout (or denoting a transition), and (2) our verb λεγω (lego), meaning to speak. The whole compound literally means to talk something through, and is used in the Bible pretty much in the same way as our derived English word "dialogue"; in the sense of to converse, dispute or reason with someone (Mark 9:34, Acts 18:4, Hebrews 12:5). From this verb comes:
    • The noun διαλεκτος (dialektos), meaning what it does in English: a dialect, an ethnic language (Acts 1:19).
  • The adjective διλογος (dilogos), which consists of (1) the adverb δις (dis), which comes from the familiar cardinal number δυο (duo), two, and which means twice, and (2) our verb λεγω (lego), meaning to speak. This negative word denotes being double-tongued or deceitful (2 Timothy 3:8).
  • The verb εκλεγω (eklego), which consists of (1) the preposition εκ (ek), meaning out, from or of, and (2) our verb λεγω (lego), meaning to speak. This verb indicates a pronouncement of favor; an election of a favored thing, person of group (Luke 10:42, John 6:70, Ephesians 1:4). From this verb comes:
    • The adjective εκλεκτος (eklektos, which lives forth in English as "eclectic"), denoting in the Bible the elect or the chosen (Luke 23:35, 1 Peter 2:4). And from this adjective in turn comes:
      • The adjective συνεκλεκτος (suneklektos), consisting of (1) the preposition συν (sun), meaning together or with, and (2) our adjective εκλεκτος (eklektos). It means chosen with others (1 Peter 5:13).
  • The verb επιλεγω (epilego), consisting of (1) the preposition επι (epi), meaning on or upon, and (2) our verb λεγω (lego), meaning to speak. This verb denotes speech in addition to something else (delivering an "epilogue"), or to choose in addition or succession to someone else (John 5:2, Acts 15:40).
  • The verb καταλεγω (katalego), consisting of (1) the preposition κατα (kata), meaning down from, down upon, etcetera, and (2) our verb λεγω (lego), meaning to speak or, originally, to lie down. This verb appears to literally mean to talk someone down or to degrade someone, but in practice, and only in extra-Biblical texts, this verb is used merely to indicate the choosing of a place to flop. In the Bible this verb is used only used once, and that in the sense of to put someone's name down on — to submit someone's name to — a certain list (1 Timothy 5:9).
  • The adjective ματαιολογος (mataiologos), which consists of (1) the adjective ματαιος (mataios), meaning vain or empty, and (2) our verb λεγω (lego), meaning to speak. The compound denotes idle talk, but is used in the Bible only as substantive: empty blabbermouth (Titus 1:10). From this adjective comes:
    • The noun ματαιολογια (mataiologia), meaning vain talk (1 Timothy 1:6).
  • The verb παραλεγω (paralego), consisting of (1) the preposition παρα (para), meaning near or nearby, and (2) our verb λεγω (lego), meaning to speak, or originally, to lie down. It's used in the Bible as a nautical term: to sail close to (some place or coast; Acts 27:8 and 27:13).
  • The verb προλεγω (prolego), consisting of (1) the preposition προ (pro), meaning before, and (2) our verb λεγω (lego), meaning to speak. It means to foretell or forewarn (2 Corinthians 13:2, Galatians 5:21).
  • The adjective σπερμολογος (spermologos), consisting of (1) the noun σπερμα (sperma), meaning a seed, and (2) our verb λεγω (lego), in the sense of to collect. This word originally described birds that wander around aimlessly, picking up whatever they come across, but came to be applied to folks who, in the course of their day, pick up tidbits of information and excitedly pass them on without context or relevance: gossips and idle babblers. This word occurs in the Bible only in Acts 17:18.
  • The verb στρατολογεω (stratologeo), consisting of (1) the noun στρατος (stratos), meaning warfare (and which isn't used in the Bible), and (2) our verb λεγω (lego), meaning to speak. In this case the charge of the verb our verb λεγω (lego) rather leans towards choosing (compare with the verb εκλεγω (eklego), mentioned above). It denotes the enlisting of men in an army; to draft. It occurs only as a participle: one who has drafted, meaning a commander (2 Timothy 2:4).
  • The verb συλλεγω (sullego), consisting of (1) the preposition συν (sun), meaning together or with, and (2) our verb λεγω (lego), usually meaning to speak but originally to lie down together and to gather. In the Bible this verb means to assemble together or to collect (of fruits, Matthew 7:16, Luke 6:44; of stumbling blocks, Mathew 13:41).
  • The adjective ψευδολογος (pseudologos), consisting of (1) the adjective ψευδης (pseudes), meaning false, and (2) our verb λεγω (lego), meaning to speak. It means lying and is used in the Bible only as substantive: a lying one; a liar (1 Timothy 4:2)

Associated Biblical names

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