Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The noun ωρα (hora) describes a time interval of indefinite length but natural manifestation (years, months, days, but not centuries and millennia). It comes from the Proto-Indo-European root yer- from which we get our word "year" and was also adopted into English as the word "hour"; that's twice the same word, both times meaning "a certain stretch of time". Actually, our Greek word ωρα (hora) describes any cycle of time that can be clearly observed in nature: a year, season, month, day and even the parts of a day that are observable: morning, noon, afternoon, evening. Since an hour is largely arbitrary, our Greek word didn't mean "hour" in the sense of sixty minutes, but rather as arbitrary marker to indicate how far the actually observable cycle (the day) had progressed. In other words: the third hour was mark number 3 on the dial but not the time span between marks 2 and 3.
Contrary to the word χρονος (chronos), which referred to longer periods of time, our noun ωρα (hora) was mostly used to indicate specific points in a temporal cycle. Hence bedtime was known as the hour of going to bed. Since all business occurred during the day, for ordinary people the day had twelve hours but the night did not (John 11:9) In the second century BC, an astronomer called Hipparchus had begun to also divide the night into 12 hours, but that was largely a theoretical endeavor and only useful for astronomers. Preceded by the preposition προς (pros), which describes a motion toward, the idiom "approaching an hour" or rather "a little while" was formed.
Our word in plural may denote any string of cycles but is used proverbially to indicate the seasons and particularly spring. Since spring was associated with blushing youth, the word ωρα (hora) acquired a connotation of loveliness. In Greek mythology, the Horae were lush female deities in charge of the seasons.
The noun ωρα (hora) is used 107 times in the new testament, see full concordance, and from it derive:
- Together with the prefix ημι (hemi), meaning half: the noun ημιωριον (hemiorion), meaning half-period (Revelation 8:1 only).
- Together with the otherwise unused noun οπος (opos), sap or juice (from the same PIE root that yielded the Slavic sok and the Latin sappinus; hence sap in English): the noun οπωρα (opora), literally sap-time but descriptive of late summer or early autumn. This word possibly stems from the time of year during which fruits were picked and pressed for juice, and was also used to refer directly to juicy fruits (see Amos 8:1-2). Metaphorically, our adjective could apply to the zest of youth (or more specifically: the ripeness of virginity). Our noun occurs in Revelation 18:14 only, and from it comes:
- Together with the verb φθινω (phthino), to decay or wane: the elaborate adjective φθινοπωρινος (phthinoporinos), which appears to describe the waning of fruit trees into autumn and finally winter (Jude 1:12 only). Metaphorically, this word answers to statements such as: "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever" (Isaiah 40:8, 1 Peter 1:24-25), or "As a flower of the field, so [man] flourishes; when the wind has passed over it, it is no more" (Psalm 103:15-16). As such, our word contemplates the termination of one's joyful (re-)productive period and the start of cold infertility.
- The adjective ωραιος (horaios), literally meaning timely, or pertaining to just the right time. Our core word ωρα (hora) was associated with spring, and spring with fair maidens and dapper suitors, and our adjective ωραιος (horaios) reflects just that. In the flow of the narrative it can often be translated with youthful, beautiful or attractive. It occurs 4 times in the New Testament, twice as the name of one of the gates of Jerusalem; see full concordance.
In the classics an identical noun ωρα (ora) appears, which doesn't seem to be used independently in the New Testament, but, combined with the adjective ολιγος (oligos), few or little, is part of the verb ολιγωρεω (oligoreo), meaning to give little heed (Hebrews 12:5 only). It's unclear where this noun ωρα (ora) came from, but Liddell and Scott (A Greek-English Lexicon) suggest it derives from a lost word χωρα (chora) or χωρια (choria), a watching or watch-keeping stint, which would bring it in proximity of our noun ωρα (hora), as indicator of time (as in 'the "third watch" of the night'). The opposite of ολιγωρεω (oligoreo), to care little, is πολυωρια (poluoria), to care a lot. This latter word is not used in the New Testament.