Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The verb πλεω (pleo) means to float or sail; to move on or through water. Note that liquid water is a major component of earth's hydrological cycle, which in Biblical theology provides a major metaphor for cognition — see our article on the Hebrew noun ארץ ('eres), meaning earth or dry land.
Note the striking similarity between our verb πλεω (pleo) and the adjective πλειων (pleion), meaning more, which is the comparative of πολυς (polus), meaning many. This word in turn looks a lot like the noun πολις (polis), meaning city, and ancient cities usually developed near major rivers: see our article on ποταμος (potamos).
Our verb is used 6 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it derive:
- Together with the preposition απο (apo), meaning from: the verb αποπλεω (apopleo), meaning to sail from. This verb is used 4 times; see full concordance.
- Together with the adjective βραδυς (bradus), meaning slow: the verb βραδυπλοεω (braduploeo), meaning to sail slow, to drift (Acts 27:7 only).
- Together with the preposition δια (dia), meaning through: the verb διαπλεω (diapleo), meaning to sail through or across (Acts 27:5 only).
- Together with the preposition εκ (ek), meaning out: the verb εκπλεω (ekpleo), meaning to sail out (Acts 15:39, 18:18 and 20:6 only).
- Together with the preposition κατα (kata), meaning down from, down upon: the verb καταπλεω (katapleo), meaning to sail down [a stream] or sail back. This verb also became a technical term denoting landing or docking a boat; coming ashore (Luke 8:26 only).
- Together with the preposition παρα (para), meaning near or nearby: the verb παραπλεω (parapleo), meaning to sail by or past (Acts 20:16 only).
- The noun πλοιον (ploion), meaning boat. The disciples were fishers, so this word occurs rather often: 67 times; see full concordance. But also note that Jesus called his disciples to be fishers of men (Matthew 4:19) and that the Greek word for ship, namely ναυς (naus), bears a striking resemblance to the word ναος (naos), meaning temple.
- The noun πλοος (ploos), meaning a sailing, that is: a journey by ship (this word relates to our parent verb the way the English noun "a walk" relates to the verb "to walk"). This word occurs in Acts 21:7, 27:9 and 27:10 only.
- Together with the preposition υπο (hupo) meaning under: the verb υποπλεω (hupopleo), literally meaning to sail under but taken to mean under the lee of (Acts 27:4 and 27:7 only).