Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The noun δολος (dolos) broadly describes "any cunning contrivance for deceiving or catching" (in the elegant words of Liddell and Scott). Among the more famous such cunning contrivances mentioned in the Greek classics are the Trojan Horse and Penelope's burial shroud. Our noun δολος (dolos) was also the common word for fish bait (and see Matthew 26:4).
Our noun is ultimately part of a larger group of δελ- (del-) and δηλ- (del-) words, all having to do with bait, or more broadly, with the representation of something enticing, but fitted with a hook or snare — also see the noun σκανδαλον (skandalon), which appears to describe a lamp for night-fishing, a lamp specifically designed to trick fish into believing that some benevolent light-bringer is calling them out of the darkness for their pleasure and benefit.
There may even be relations with the Hebrew word דלת (delet), which described the curtain that covered the entrance to a tent — hence the Hebrew letter ד (d) or daleth and the Greek letter Δ (D) or delta.
Our noun δολος (dolos) became dolus in Latin, which is identical to (if not the very same as) the noun dolus, pain or grief, which obviously relates to the verb doleo, to hurt, and dolor, pain, hence the term dolorosa, of grief, and the name Dolores, meaning [Lady of] Sorrows. This latter set of words is thought to derive from the Proto-Indo-European root "delh-", meaning to hew or split.
And perhaps (as we here at Abarim Publications ever playfully surmise), this group of words also served as a catalyst in the formation of the word δελφαξ (delphax), pig, and ultimately, perhaps, αδελφος (adelphos), brother. This is not even all that far-fetched: the name Thomas means twin and relates to the verb τεμνω (temno), which means to cut or cleave, and is not at all dissimilar in meaning to "delh-", meaning to hew or split.
Our noun δολος (dolos), deception, bait or trick, is used 11 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it come:
- Together with the particle of negation α (a), meaning not or without: the adjective αδολος (adolos), meaning without deceit, without trickery, or more elaborate: powerful or wise enough to direct or influence (or benefit from) other people without having to resort to trickery. This adjective occurs in 1 Peter 2:2 only.
- The adjective δολιος (dolios), meaning signified by trickery, descriptive of people who can only direct others by means of deceit rather than a mastery of how things work. This terrible word occurs in 2 Corinthians 11:13 only.
- The verb δολιοω (dolioo), meaning to act deceptively, to be deceitful (Romans 3:13 only).
- The verb δολοω (doloo), meaning to lure with bait or catch through trickery and deceit (2 Corinthians 4:2 only). In the classics this verb was also used to mean to disguise or to adulterate precious wine or incense with lesser imitations. Hence it could also be descriptive of dye or alloy.
The adjective δηλος (delos) means conspicuous, obvious, manifest, evident or clearly visible (hence Delos, the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis). It's thought to derive from the same ancient Proto-Indo-European root "dyew-", meaning heaven or sky, that also gave us several Indo-European terms for day, dawn, sky, sun, and even various deities (including the Latin words Dei, Deus, Zeus).
Curiously enough, the verb δηλεομαι (deleomai) means to hurt, damage or do mischief to. This verb is formally of unknown origin, and from it comes the noun δηλητηρ (deleter), meaning a destroyer (hence our English verb to delete). A common Hebrew verb that means to destroy is שדד (shadad), which appears to have resulted in the divine name Shaddai — Isaiah 13:6 reads: "Wail, for the day of YHWH is near! It will come as destruction (שד, shad) from Shaddai!"
Our adjective is used a mere 4 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, but from it derive:
- Again together with the particle of negation α (a), meaning not or without: the adjective αδηλος (adelos), meaning not obvious, not clearly seen or heard, and thus concealed of hidden (Luke 11:44 and 1 Corinthians 14:8 only). From this adjective in turn come:
- The noun αδηλοτης (adelotes), meaning uncertainty or concealedness. This word occurs in 1 Timothy 6:17 only, in the term "the uncertainty/invisibility of wealth," which appears to also reflect the knack of some to see opportunity for wealth where others see only junk.
- The curious adverb αδηλως (adelos), which occurs in 1 Corinthians 9:26 only and doesn't seem to exist anywhere else in Greek literature, and which Paul apparently used to mean invisibly. Paul describes a race of which the winner is obviously someone who is noticed by all to cross the finish first. Someone who finishes first but is seen by nobody, gets no prize.
- The verb δηλοω (deloo), meaning to make clearly evident or obviously manifest. This verb is used 7 times; see full concordance.
- Together with the preposition εκ (ek), meaning out: the adjective εκδηλος (ekdelos), meaning overly obvious, very clear (2 Timothy 3:9 only).
- Together with the preposition κατα (kata), meaning down from, down upon: the adjective καταδηλος (katadelos), meaning hitting-the-spot obvious (Hebrews 7:15 only).
- Together with the preposition προ (pro), meaning before or in front of: the adjective προδηλος (prodelos), meaning "obvious before all" or most obvious (1 Timothy 5:24 and 5:25 and Hebrews 7:14 only).