Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The adjective βραδυς (bradus) means slow, and is the counterpart of the adjective ταχυς (tachus), meaning quick. Our adjective may describe slowness in a spatial sense (slow-running) or the mind: slow-witted (or in rare cases specifically: illiterate).
It's not clear where our word originated, but it appears to relate to the Latin adjective gurdus, meaning stupid, and possibly stems from a shared Proto-Indo-European root of similar meaning. In Aramaic, however, occurs the word ברדין (baradin) as variant of גרדין (garadin), from the verb גרד (garad), to comb or scrape (or to remove by combing). This term was native to the weavers' trade and perhaps weavers were not known for their wit but rather for their time-consuming processes (indeed, these words entered Greek as γερδιος, gerdios, and Latin as gerdius; both denoting a weaver). In Aramaic, the verb גרד (garad) also became used in the sense of to chastise someone, or "sort them out", which was an endeavor that on average would befall the dimwits more often than the clever. Still, it should be noted that the art of weaving itself was held in proverbial high regard. The noun τεκτων (tekton) describes an assembler (this was Jesus' earthly profession) and comes from the same PIE root teks-, meaning to weave or fabricate or construct, as our English words textile, text and technology.
Perhaps another group of words that a Greek speaker may have associated with our adjective comes via the PIE root "brew-", to boil or seethe, from which English gets words like broth, boil and bread. The German verb braten is the same as the Dutch verb braden and means to slowly roast. The familiar Latin term brutus (hence our word brute) also means stupid and stems from a PIE root that means to be heavy; hence too the Greek adjective βαρυς (barus), weighty or heavy. Curiously enough, the Hebrew equivalent, namely כבד (kabed), literally means to be heavy and figuratively to be impressive or glorious; rather the opposite of being dim-witted.
But whatever the pedigree, our adjective βραδυς (bradus), slow, occurs in the New Testament in Luke 24:25 and James 1:19 only. From this adjective derive:
- The verb βραδυνω (braduno), meaning to be slow (1 Timothy 3:15 and 2 Peter 3:9 only).
- Together with the verb πλεω (pleo), to float or sail through water: the verb βραδυπλοεω (braduploeo), meaning to sail slow, to drift (Acts 27:7 only).
- The noun βραδυτης (bradutes), meaning delay or slowness (2 Peter 3:9 only).
The verb οκνεω (okneo) means to be slow or tardy, but not necessarily out of laziness or ignorance. It comes from an unused noun οκνος (oknos), meaning a hesitation or shrinking in alarm or fear, which means that it is akin trepidation, doubt and insecurity. The origins of these words are not wholly clear, but a proposed candidate is the same broadly attested Proto-Indo-European root "kenk-" from which English gets its verb to hang.
Our verb is used in the New Testament in Acts 9:38 only. From it derives:
- The adjective οκνηρος (okneros), meaning slow or hesitant, but out of insecurity and fear rather than laziness or complacency. It occurs in Matthew 25:26, Romans 12:11 and Philippians 3:1 only. In the latter occasion, Paul gracefully juxtaposes our adjective οκνηρος (okneros), slow because of insecurity, with ασφαλης (asphales), immovable because of security.