Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The noun ονος (onos) means donkey, which was the beast of burden that either carried civilian passengers or small loads for local merchants (merchandise for long distance trade was carried by camels and soldiers rode horses).
Our noun by which the donkey was known appears to have emphasized its function, namely its usefulness in carrying a load. The derived adjective ονειος (oneios) means both "of an ass" and "useful," and the noun ονειαρ (oneiar) means advantage or "that which brings profit." This latter word was not only applied to donkeys but also to dreams, known as οναρ (onar, see below).
- The diminutive noun οναριον (onarion), meaning little donkey, or colt of a donkey. This noun occurs only once, in John 12:14, in the context of Jesus' triumphal entry. Everybody in the original audience of the gospel of John realized that a young colt would be ruined for life if it was made to carry any kind of serious load before it had matured, which means that the original audience certainly understood this scene, taken from Zechariah 9:9, as a metaphor. It suggests that the "weight" of Jesus was little (Matthew 11:30; also see the Hebrew word כבד, kabed, weight or importance), but also that the gospel doesn't come thundered by loud voices, but on a barely audible whisper.
The noun οναρ (onar) means dream, but appears to differentiate any old dream (ενυπνιον, enupnion) from a dream that carries a message, and which is rather on a par with an αγγελος (aggelos), a messenger or angel. As we note in our article on the Hebrew word for dream, namely חלום (halom), the ability to explain dreams had not only secured Israel's survival in Egypt, it also secured Jesus' survival in Egypt. And both times the celebrated oneirocritic was called Joseph.
How dreams interact with the conscious mind is still a mystery to modern science, but as many a dreamer will attest, an impressive dream may set one's mood for days, and even inspire one to steer one's life in directions the conscious mind didn't think to look. There are even clues in the Bible that humans are connected through their dreams, and that certain scenarios that require many different players to play a specific role, may be directed by their dreams.
Matthew's account of how Jesus came to live in Nazareth contains no fewer than five angelic dreams: The first tells Joseph that Mary's child is of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20). The second dream warns the Magi to avoid Herod on their way home from Bethlehem (2:12). The third dream warns Joseph to take his family to Egypt to hide from Herod (2:13). The fourth dream tells him that Herod has died and he can return (2:19). And the fifth dream tells him to avoid Archelaus and move to Galilee (2:22). Note that the name Herod reminds of the Hebrew word ערד ('arod), meaning wild donkey.
Our noun οναρ (onar) occurs 6 times in the New Testament, all in Matthew; see full concordance.