Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The noun κοκκος (kokkos) describes a kernel, typically of grain (σιτος, sitos) or mustard (σιναπι, sinapi). It's not clear where our word comes from, but it's probably not even Greek but pre-Greek. Our noun is certainly not related to the English noun cacao (which stems from an Aztec word) but the word coco (hence coconut) comes, via a similar Portuguese noun meaning head or skull, from a proto-Celtic root "krowka-", meaning round elevation (of earth) or head.
Our noun may even have a Semitic origin. The Hebrew noun ככר (kikkar), meaning "any round thing" drifts to mind, not because a seed is typically a round thing (it isn't) but because this noun comes from the verb כרר (karar), which describes a repeated circular motion or cycle, and that would match the nature of seed. The related verb כרה (kara) describes the digging of a hole and depositing something in it. Noun כר (kar) means young lamb and diminutive כרכרה (kirkara) denotes some kind of animal, perhaps a migratory one.
The Serbo-Croation word kikiriki, meaning peanuts, comes from the Italian chicchi, meaning grains, from the singular chicco, seed or "any round thing". Chicco is also short for Francesco (which ultimately means the Free). Coco is short for Nicolas (Victor Over The People ).
In the Greek classics, our word κοκκος (kokkos) could also describe a kind of oak tree (specifically the kermes oak, or Quercus coccifera), which not only symbolized strength and firmness, but also stiffness and foolishness — see our article on אלה ('elah), oak or terebinth. This specific oak was home to a particular insect, in modernity called Kermes, but in antiquity κοκκος (kokkos), in both cases after the tree. Our English words oak and acorn stem from a Proto-Indo-European root "heyg-"; see αιξ (aix), meaning goat.
Our noun κοκκος (kokkos), kernel (or acorn or oak or bug-in-oak), is used 7 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it comes:
- The adjective κοκκινος (kokkinos), which literally means made-of-kokkoi (or [the] kokkos, rather), and which denoted the dye extracted from mushing the aforementioned kermes insects. This dye was a deep crimson, and crimson clothes came to denote royalty and high nobility. This noun is used 6 times; see full concordance.
The words kermes and crimson both derive from the Arabic word qirmizi, meaning crimson. The Hebrew equivalent, כרמיל (karmil), rather strikingly, derives from the noun כרם (kerem), vineyard (hence the name Carmel). The Phoenicians made their signature purple dye (πορφυρα, porphura) from a creature called Murex.