🔼The name Tryphosa: Summary
- Precious Little Two
- From the verb τρυφαω (truphao), to live luxuriously or pleasurably.
🔼The name Tryphosa in the Bible
Tryphosa is a woman mentioned by Paul in his letter to the Roman church (16:12). He greets her together with Tryphaena, and from the similarity of their names some scholars derive that they may have been twins (Spiros Zodhiates' The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament).
🔼Etymology of the name Tryphosa
Both names Tryphosa and Tryphaena come from the following group of words: The verb τρυφαω (truphao), meaning to live luxuriously or in pleasure (as used in James 5:5). This verb is constructed from the noun τρυφη (truphe), meaning delicate living, self-indulgence. This noun occurs in Luke 7:25 and 2 Peter 2:13, and was in turn derived from the verb θρυπτω (truphto), which Zodhiates translates with the rather verbose "to break up or enfeeble by luxury which destroys the integrity of body and mind". Liddell and Scott (A Greek-English Lexicon) state that this word means (1) to break in pieces, break small, and (2) metaphorically in moral sense: enfeeble, especially by debauchery and luxury.
But this root is not all negative; the word τρυφημα (truphema), for instance, means "the object in which one takes pride" (according to Liddell and Scot).
The names Tryphosa and Tryphaena are artificial constructions of our root. The -osa part of Tryphosa isn't used much in Greek. But its meaning may be demonstrated by words such as θοος (thoos), meaning quick or nimble, and the derived θοωσα (thoosa), meaning speedy or swift. The name Θοωσα belongs to Thoosa, a nymph and daughter of Phorcys and mother of Polyphemus.
The -aena or rather the -aina part of Tryphaena is much more common. It primarily conveys femininity and secondarily diminution. For instance, the word αλεκτρυαινα (alektruaina) means hen, and is the female form of αλεκτρυων (alektruon), meaning rooster; and δρακαινα (drakania) means she-dragon and is the female form of δρακων (drakon), meaning (male) dragon.
The noun απυταινα (aputaina) means small pail, and comes from the verb απυω (apuo), meaning to draw (water or some other liquid). And the noun φλυκταινα (phluktaina) means blister and comes from the verb φλεω (phleo), meaning to teem with abundance, to abound.
The word θεαινα (theaina — hence possibly the names Diana and Diane), meaning goddess, is a Homeric derivation of the usual word for goddess: θεα (thea — hence the name Thea), which is the feminine form of θεος (theos — hence the name Theo), meaning god.
The names Tryphosa and Tryphaena are difficult to translate literally. It seems likely that the parents of Tryphosa and Tryphaena were so endeared with their two identical little girls that they called them Precious Little Ones, and played with the same root to create two non-existing words for names, perhaps comparable to Mini-Me & Mini-Mo, or Sparkee & Sparka (or, our favorite: Precious Little One and Precious Little Two).