Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The adjective μωρος (moros) means foolish or dimwitted and is the source of our English word "moron". Where this word comes from is officially a mystery, but here at Abarim Publications we surmise it has to do with the noun μορον (moron), which means mulberry, a proverbially small and red fruit, whose color has always reminded of primitivity: the dim glowing red just before sunrise (or after sunset). The words ruddy and rude and even the name Red Sea still tell of that ancient association. Our word's opposite, namely a brightly lit illumination or enlightenment, is the sum of all colors.
The Roman poet Ovid connected the red color of the mulberry to the deaths under the mulberry tree of Pyramus and Thisbe, the original Romeo and Juliet, whose oft-told story tells of the dynamic intersection between the solar ratio (Juliet, Daisy, Elijah the Tishbite, Samson) and the lunar emotions (Romeo, Gatsby, uncle Laban, Jericho), which in turn resulted in the evolution of life on earth — see for a longer discussion of this our article on the noun φρην (phren), which describes the figurative "midriff" between the emotional bowels and the rational heart, and the verb περιτεμνω (peritemno), to circumcise.
A person's soul is in his blood (Genesis 9:4, Leviticus 17:11) and it takes a trick or two to unite all the blood of man into a river, like wine that comes from trampling out grapes. Fortunately for all of us, our most primitive ancestors learned to hone their vocalizations and slowly but surely began to form words. A person's soul, or at least his thoughts, could now be carried by his words, which indeed congealed into rivers of ideas and finally formed our wonderful modern world. A person with little juice to begin with, and who can't seem to get the hang of transforming the chaotic fluids of his emotions into the bricks that are the words from which we build the city that is modern human rationality, that person is a mulberry among grapes.
We should probably add that the enthusiasm with which some of us label others, and particularly others of limited processor speed, is not shared by the authors of the Bible. When we deem someone a moron, we do that mostly to insult the receiver and elevate ourselves. The Bible has no need for such mechanisms, and emphasizes instead that whatever we humans commonly reject has an excellent chance of becoming a cornerstone in the temple to be (1 Corinthians 1:27). A Biblical moron is someone who has the juice but doesn't do the work, who has the opportunity but doesn't take it (Matthew 25:2). And since nobody can tell how much juice there is in someone else's head, calling someone a moron is a risky business indeed (Matthew 5:22).
Our adjective is used 13 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it derive:
- The verb μωραινω (moraino), meaning to dim, to reduce the light (or power) of something. This verb is used 4 times; see full concordance.
- The noun μορια (moria), meaning dimness. Dimness in a world where a great light shines is inexcusable. But dimness in a dark world is a sign of great hope. Note that this noun is spelled similar to the name of the mountain where Abraham was to offer Isaac: mount Moriah, upon which much later the temple of YHWH would be built. This similarity is most probably a happy accident, but certainly not unnoticed or unexplored by the Bible writers. Our noun occurs 5 times; see full concordance.
- Together with the verb λεγω (lego), to speak or proclaim: the noun μωρολογια (morologia), meaning dimwitted speech (Ephesians 5:4 only).
The noun μορον (moron) means berry and specifically a mulberry, a dark purple little fruit that appears to have inspired the adjective μωρος (moros), to be dimwitted to be just a little bit enlightened (see above). This noun does not occur independently in the New Testament but together with the noun συκον (sukon), fig, yet another member of the mulberry family whose fruit came to symbolize intellectual primitivity and immaturity (see the Hebrew equivalent בכורה, bikkura), it forms:
- The noun συκαμινος (sukaminos), meaning sycamore (Luke 17:6 only).
- The noun συκομωραια (sukomoraia) or συκομορεα (sukomorea), also meaning sycamore (Luke 19:4 only). The difference between this tree and the previous isn't clear, or even which trees any of these fig-mulberry words describe. In modern times, these words cover more than a dozen species of tree.