Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The noun οχλος (ochlos) means crowd or rather a dynamic multitude. It lives on in English in words like "ochlophobia" (an irrational fear of crowds) and "ochlocracy" (a mob-rule; a government by the wild populace, as opposed to the carefully structured people of a democracy). It stems from an ancient Proto-Indo-European root wegh, meaning to move or transport per vehicle — hence also words like way, away, always, convey, convoy, deviate, envoy, pervious, previous, trivial, vector, vehement, vehicle, vex, via, vogue, voyage, wagon, wave, wiggle, and even the name Norway).
Our word emphasizes both movement and multitudinousness, and was on rare occasions used to express annoyance or trouble (see the verb οχλεω, ochleo below). Otherwise, it was used pretty much the same as its English counterpart. It occurs mostly in the singular to indicate a whole bunch of moving-about people, but in plural it denotes huge thronging masses (either consisting of crowds or adding up to one: Matthew 13:2). On occasion it's used to discriminate between aristocracy and the "common crowd" (Matthew 14:5, John 7:12).
Our noun is used 174 times, see full concordance, and comes with the following derivations:
- The curious verb οχλεω (ochleo), meaning to move or disturb. In the passive voice it may also mean "crowded" or made restless because of some heaving multitude. This word occurs in Luke 6:18 and Acts 5:16 only, both times describing mental disorders. From this verb in turn comes:
- Together with the preposition εν (en), meaning in: the verb ενοχλεω (enochleo), which means the same as its parent verb, with the added emphasis of internal disturbance (Hebrews 12:15 only). From this verb derives:
- Together with the verb ποιεω (poieo) meaning to make or do: the verb οχλοποιεω (ochlopoieo), meaning to raise a crowd, or rather to create a massive commotion (Acts 17:5 only).