Useful Greek Words

It is believed that Greek is the oldest European language, orally for 4000 years and written for 3000 years. Modern Greek is a dialect of southern Greece, now used by most Greek speakers both here and abroad. It is a result of the combination and contribution of the ancient vocabulary and words from the Greek regional dialects of acute accent which indicates where stress falls. Note that dh is pronounced ‘th’ (as in then) and gh is a softer, slightly guttural version of ‘g’.

By speaking even a few Greek words you will experience a great appreciation by the locals. It breaks the ice and saves you from impersonating windmills throughout your holiday. The locals will love it even if you speak a sentence in English, with a few Greek words thrown in. Of course, you run the danger of speaking a little Greek and being ‘rewarded’ with a tirade of fast Greek in return, the meaning of which you haven’t got a clue, but have a go – the list below includes the Greek for ‘I don’t understand’. Some of you are long-term visitors to Greece and probably communicate extremely well but for those of you who don’t, here is some basic vocabulary, written phonetically with the emphasis indicated by an accent over the appropriate letter.

Good morningKakimera (mera actually means day so you are in fact saying good day) not be confused with ‘kalamari’ – squid! It’s happened!
Good eveningKalispera (used after aabout 12:00 and throughout the evening)
Good nightKalinikta (only used when leaving, eg. A taverna, at night)
Please/you’re welcomeParakalo
Thank youEfharisto (whoever you have thanked will usually reply ‘Parakalo’.
HelloYiassas (to an adult you don’t know or to more than one person) Yiassou (to someone you know or a child) These greetings are often shortened to just ‘Yia’
GoodbyeAndeo (Although Yiassas or Yiassou are often used)
Sorry/Excuse meSignomi
OKEndaxi (you may have heard this and thought someone was talking about a taxi)
BadKako or okhee kala – kiterally “not good”
How are you?Ti kanitay (polit/plural) or ti kaniss (friend or a child) – If someone says to you “Ti kaniss”, you can reply “kala”
How muchPoso Kanay
Where is?Pou inay
It is/is it?Inay


Kefi – This is a Greek word with a lovely meaning – the marvelous feeling when you want to dance and sing and feel full of the joys of life, sometimes alcohol induced.


I don’t understand: Then katalavayno

I understand: Katalavayno

Do you speak English?: Meelahtah angleekah?

I don’t know: Then to xero

Good appetite: Kali orexi

Sweet dreams: Oneera gleeka