Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The verb σειω (seio) means to shake or move to and fro. In the classics this verb could describe the movement of trees in the breeze, teeth in an aged jaw, a spear in an angered hand, or a door swinging, chariots bouncing and of folks dancing to a catchy ditty. It could be used, very hip, to describe a shake-down (blackmail, extortion), or, also hip, in a Taylor Swift sense of shaking off of ideas and thoughts one doesn't like (but which, upon critical inspection, may not wholly be void of merit). But it would also describe the earth quaking (hence our English adjective seismic; see the noun σεισμος, seimos, below), or the mind being disturbed by anger or other intense emotions (and see for the cognitive equivalent of the hydrological cycle, our article on νεφελη, nephele, meaning cloud).
Our verb is used 5 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it derive:
- Together with the preposition ανα (ana), meaning on or upon: the verb ανασειω (anaseio), which also means to shake or stir (with the same compass as above), but emphasizes a repetitive or even accumulative and adversary element: to keep waving one's hands (in order to repel someone), to threaten by waving a stick around, to shake up or out, or to stir into a frenzy by adding insult to insult. This verb is used in Mark 15:11 and Luke 23:5 only.
- Together with the preposition δια (dia) meaning through or throughout: the verb διασειω (diaseio), meaning to shake through and through, to stir thoroughly (Luke 3:14 only).
- Together with the preposition κατα (kata), meaning down from, down upon: the verb κατασειω (kataseio), meaning to shake down, to throw down, or to calm down (literally: to reduce the shaking), which is how this verb is used in the New Testament. This verb is used 4 times; see full concordance.
- The noun σεισμος (seimos), meaning a shock or quake. As anybody in the original audience of the New Testament would have realized, earth- and sea-quakes were in Greek mythology ascribed to Poseidon, the brother of Hades and Zeus. That means that the rather conspicuously lavish use of earth- and sea-quakes in the narrative of the New Testament is certainly also intended to serve as respectful commentary on the dialogue between Hebrew monotheism and Greco-Roman polytheism (see Matthew 27:54 relative to Isaiah 13:13 and Haggai 2:6). This noun is used 14 times; see full concordance.