Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The noun θυγατηρ (thugater) means daughter, the feminine counterpart of υιος (huios), son. Both this Greek noun θυγατηρ (thugater) and our English word "daughter" stem from the closely similar Proto-Indo-European root "dhugheter", meaning just that.
Sons and daughters are not merely the means by which parents perpetuate themselves, they are also the tribe's way to connect with other tribes. Depending on whether the culture was patrilocal or matrilocal (and read our article on γαμος, gamos, marriage, for more on this), one served to fortify the native tribe with a foreign influx of genetic and cultural diversity, whereas the other served to infuse a foreign tribe with the native tribe's genetic and cultural distinctions.
The significance of this is no longer clearly expressed in modern Indo-European languages, but Hebrew keeps it quite obvious: The Hebrew word for son is בן (ben), and the verb to build is בנה (bana). The Hebrew word for daughter is בת (bat), and the word for house or temple is בית (bayit). Hence Peter could speak of "living stones" that are being built up as a "spiritual house" (1 Peter 2:5).
Unlike the Romans, who simply conquered and destroyed, the Greeks, like the Phoenicians, were enthusiastic creators of colonies (see our article on the name Neapolis), which were subsequently dubbed "daughters" of their royal "parent" cities. The Phoenicians, you will remember, had been more than instrumental in building Solomon's temple of YHWH in Jerusalem, and were praised for their wisdom until the time of the exile (Ezekiel 28:12).
Doubtlessly the most famous, and most lamented, colonial daughter in Roman times was Carthage, a colony of Phoenician Tyre, who incurred the mad wrath of the Romans and was completely destroyed (Matthew 15:22).
Our noun θυγατηρ (thugater), daughter, is used 29 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it derives:
- The noun θυγατριον (thugatrion), which is a diminutive of the previous and thus means little daughter (Mark 5:23 and 7:25 only). However, this diminutive may also simply mean "one of many", particularly when that one is separated from a supportive group: a lost and lonely daughter. In that sense our word is comparable to the noun αρνιον (arnion), which is a diminutive of the noun αρην (aren), meaning lamb. The diminutive αρνιον (arnion) does not so much describe an extra little lamb but rather one who's lost and abandoned. Note that about ten percent of all people in the Roman Empire were Jews, and that the empire was widely strewn with autonomous Jewish communities (see, for instance, our article on Cyrene).