Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The noun ανεμος (anemos) is the regular Greek word for wind, but where our English word "wind" mainly describes the natural large-scale dynamics within the atmosphere, the Greek word ανεμος (anemos) also covers the large scale movements of people.
Our English word "wind" comes from the same Proto-Indo-European root "we-", meaning to blow, as the words ventilator, window, weather and, significantly, Nirvana. The noun ανεμος (anemos), however, comes from the same Proto-Indo-European root "ana-", meaning to breathe, as the words to animate, animation and animal. The Greek word for soul, namely ψυχη (psuche), comes from the verb ψυχω (psucho), which means to breathe in. The Greek word for spirit, namely πνευμα (pneuma), comes from the verb πνεω (pneo), meaning to breathe out.
To the Greeks, the wind was not simply air that moves but rather breath before you breathe it or soul before you live it — a natural phenomenon as much associated with air moving about a closed atmosphere, trees swaying in the breeze, thundering tornadoes or raging seas, as with the movement, immigration and displacement of peoples, the swaying of their languages and legal systems, thundering armies or general populations rising in insurrection.
The ancients understood that one's individual νους (nous), or rational mind, drives one's own self, and with some persuasion possibly some others. Likewise our noun ανεμος (anemos) describes what causes the large-scale dynamics of the human world: the movements that are not driven by the will of one person but by the chaotic non-linear patterns that characterize complex systems.
The wind itself, the ancients appear to have understood, derives its energy from the sun (ηλιος, helios), which is precisely what plants do. The difference is that the cells of living plants transform light into glucose and store it like batteries and so fuel the entire biosphere, whereas the molecules of inanimate objects react to light by spending it individually on motion relative to their neighbors. The wind is a being that exists in the neutral zone between inanimate objects and living things: its molecules don't go jumping about individually but it can't actually store energy in battery-like chemical compounds.
The wind's life-like non-linear nature comes from the very regular rotation of the earth around its axis. That in turn suggests that the direction of the wind signifies its character, its origin and destination, as well as its effect on people. This caused the wind to be venerated in four main deities called Anemoi (Matthew 24:31), and a slew of minor and local ones, several of which are mentioned by name in the account of Paul's shipwreck on Malta: χωρος (choros), the northwestern, and λιψ (lips), the southwestern (Acts 27:12), and the Euroclydon (Acts 17:14).
Our noun ανεμος (anemos), wind, is used 31 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it derives:
- The verb ανεμιζω (anemizo), meaning to blow forth, or in the passive voice: to be driven by the wind (James 1:6 only).