Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The verb τρεχω (trecho) means to course, and mostly describes travelling (at whatever speed) along some path or trajectory. It's mostly applied to things with legs, and mostly to things that draw other things with wheels or run along circular trajectories (see the derivative τροχια, trochia, meaning wheel, below). Our verb comes from a widely attested Proto-Indo-European root "dreg-" that means to run (both in the sense of to travel fast and along some course), from which also come our English verbs to draw and to drag, and the German verb tragen (to carry).
Our verb τρεχω (trecho) is so-called defective, which means that its various tenses come from different PIE roots. In this case, the aorist (that's the tense that commonly translates as an English simple past tense) of our verb is δραμειν (dramein), which comes from the less-attested PIE root "drem-", which also means to travel along some trajectory.
In the classics, our verb τρεχω (trecho) emphasizes the haste with which a payload (a message of victory, torches, some constellation, a considered conundrum, people's own lives) is maneuvered along a trajectory. It is used 20 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it derive:
- The noun δρομος (dromos), meaning a coursing (of men or animals such as horses and camels), which may refer to a race, or rather the course or track upon which the race is run, or the mere fact that folks or animals are coursing or running (a running out of haste, or a racing for fun, or a fleeing from angst, the delivering of a message, or the completing of some lengthy or defining project, and so on). From this word come the English words hippodrome and dromedary (suggesting that the dromedary was specifically known as a track- or race-camel). This noun was also used to describe a public pathway or even set of pillars or statues that "ran" their stretch. The important term δρομος δημοσιος (dromos demosios) or cursus publicus in Latin — the Public Way — described the public courier and postal service that literally tied the Roman Empire together, and without which there would have been no New Testament, no Christianity and certainly no modern world (see our article on Hellas for more on this). In the New Testament, this noun occurs in Acts 13:25, 20:24 and 2 Timothy 4:7 only.
- Together with the preposition εις (eis) meaning in or to: the verb ειστρεχω (eistrecho), meaning to course in or into (Acts 12:14 only).
- Together with the adjective ευθυς (euthus), meaning straight: the verb ευθυδρομεω (euthudromeo), meaning to travel a course without digression (Acts 16:11 and 21:1 only).
- Together with the preposition κατα (kata), meaning down from, down upon: the verb κατατρεχω (katatrecho), meaning to course down to, to move along a trajectory from a higher place to a lower one (Acts 21:32 only).
- Together with the preposition περι (peri), meaning around or about: the verb περιτρεχω (peritrecho), meaning to course around. This verb combines two ways to say circular, and in the classics either emphasizes the not getting anywhere of someone running around in circles, or else the ubiquitousness or dexterity of someone getting everywhere and into everything. It may mean to be hip or in vogue. Or it may mean to encompass or surround. It occurs in Mark 6:55 only.
- Together with the prefix προς (pros), which describes a motion toward: the verb προστρεχω (prostrecho), meaning to course toward someone (Mark 9:15, 10:17 and Acts 8:30 only). Since in both these cases the "running" happened on a road that "ran" between towns, this verb may simply mean to travel along the road from the opposite direction.
- Together with the preposition προ (pro), meaning before: the verb προτρεχω (protrecho), meaning to course before or to travel along a road ahead or faster than (Luke 19:4 and John 20:4 only). From this verb in turn comes:
- The adjective προδρομος (prodromos), meaning fore-runner (Hebrews 6:20 only). This word is remarkable common in the Greek classics, and often described horsemen that went ahead of the main army, whether to serve as guides or as first wave or attackers. This noun could also describe the first ripe figs of a larger harvest or the first gusts of northerly wind that preceded the yearly period of steady north winds.
- Together with the preposition συν (sun), meaning together or with: the verb συντρεχω (suntrecho), meaning to course together, to travel together along a trajectory, road or course (Mark 6:33, Acts 3:11 and 1 Peter 4:4 only). From this verb come:
- The noun τροχος (trochos), which literally means a courser but in practice describes anything round: a wheel, hoop, cake, ring, whirlwind, pot or circular course (James 3:6 only). From this noun comes:
- The noun τροχια (trochia), which describes a wheel-track or rut in a well-traversed path (Hebrews 12:13 only). Such ruts would form over years of carts travelling along roads, and in effect form the two borders between which the animals that drew the carts would walk. Once the wheels of the cart were set in the tracks, and the caravan was on the move, the whole affair was pretty much fixed and the driver could tend to other business or take a nap if he wanted to.
- Together with υπο (hupo), meaning under or beneath: the verb υποτρεχω (hupotrecho), meaning to course under (Acts 27:16 only). In the classics this verb is often used to describe a coursing under the guidance or protection of something (a guiding star, or the lee of an island). It could describe the coursing between one thing and another (say, a rock and a hard place, or a star and the earth), or it might describe some feeling that "came over" people, which means that these people were now "under" it.