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Old & New Testament Greek

Entry for Strong's #2228 -

Word Origin:
a primary particle of distinction between two connected terms
Parts of Speech:
Word Definition  [ Thayer's | Strong's ]
Thayer's Definition
  1. either, or, than
Liddell-Scott-Jones Definitions

(A), also ἠέ (in signf. A. 11 (or ἠέ) folld. by (or ἦε), v. infr.), Conj. with two chief senses, Disj. (or) and Comp. (than).


1. or, ἐγὼ.. ἢ ἄλλος Ἀχαιῶν Il. 2.231, cf. 397, 800, 4.142, 7.236, al.; θεόσυτος ἢ βρότειος ἢ κεκραμένη A. Pr. 116.

2. ἢ.. either.. or, ἢ νῦν δηθύνοντ' ἢ ὕστερον αὖτις ἰόντα Il. 1.27, cf. 151, 5.484, etc.; so .. ἤτοι.. Pi. N. 6.4, Fr. 138; ἤτοι.. .. A. Ag. 662, S. Ant. 1182, Th. 2.40, etc. (in Classical Gr. the alternative introduced by ἤτοι is emphasized, later no distn. is implied, Romans 6:16; ἤτοι.. .. .. PTeb. 5.59 (ii B.C.)); repeated any number of times, ἐγὼ δέ κεν αὐτὸς ἕλωμαι ἢ τεὸν ἢ Αἴαντος ἰὼν γέρας ἢ Ὀδυσῆος Il. 1.138, cf. Od. 15.84, S. Ant. 707; is prob. wrongly accented in codd. of Il. 2.289, Od. 3.348, 19.109, v. Adv. 1.3: ἢ πόλις βροτός θ' ὁμοίως A. Eu. 524 (lyr.) is exceptional.

3. or else, otherwise, εἰδέναι δεῖ περὶ οὗ ἂν ᾖ ἡ βουλή, ἢ παντὸς ἁμαρτάνειν ἀνάγκη Pl. Phdr. 237c; μή με λυπεῖτε, ἢ φεύξομ' ἐκ τῆς οἰκίης Herod. 5.74; ζῶντα κακῶς λέγειν ἐκώλυσε.., ἢ τρεῖς δραχμὰς ἀποτίνειν ἔταξε Lex Sol. ap. Plu. Sol. 21, cf. 24, IG 12.94.10, Them. Or. 21.260a.

II in Questions or Deliberations in Disj. form(the accentuation is (ἠέ) folld. by (ἦε), Hdn. Gr. 2.24, al., A.D. Conj. 224.28):

1 Direct questions, introduced by (ἠέ), ἢ δολιχὴ νοῦσος ἦ Ἄρτεμις ἰοχέαιρα.. κατέπεφνεν; Od. 11.172; ἤ τι κατὰ πρῆξιν ἦ μαψιδίως ἀλάλησθε..; 3.72, cf. 1.408, 16.462, Il. 6.378, 15.735, 16.12, etc. without an introductory Particle, θεός νύ τις ἦ βροτός ἐσσι; art thou a goddess or a mortal? Od. 6.149, cf. 1.226, 4.314, 372, 643, 20.130, 21.194, Il. 10.63, 425, 534, 15.203: accented , Hdn.Gr. 2.145, al., but freq. in codd. of Hom. and always in codd. of later writers: ἤκουσας ἢ οὐκ ἤκουσας ἢ κωφῇ λέγω; A. Th. 202; ἄρτι δὲ ἥκεις ἢ πάλαι; Pl. Cri. 43a; κακουργεῖν δεῖ ἢ οὔ; ib. 49c; preceded by πότερον, πότερον δοκεῖ σοι κάκιον εἶναι, τὸ ἀδικεῖν ἢ τὸ ἀδικεῖσθαι; Id. Grg. 474c, etc.

2. Indirect questions, freq. epexegetic of a preceding question and identical in form with direct questions. εἴπ' ἄγε,.. ἤ ῥ' ἐθέλει.., ἦ ἀπέειπε.. Il. 9.674; ὄφρα δαῶμεν ἢ ἐτεὸν Κάλχας μαντεύεται ἦε καὶ οὐκί 2.300; διάνδιχα μερμήριξεν ἢ ὅ γε.. ἐναρίζοι ἦε χόλον παύσειεν 1.190; later with εἰ.. A. Ch. 890, Ag. 478, S. OC 80, etc.; πότερον or πότερα.. .. Id. Pers. 148, 352, Ag. 630, etc.; sts. εἴτε.. E. El. 897; .. εἴτε S. Aj. 177. without introductory Particle, οὐδέ τι οἶδα ζώει ὅ γ' ἦ τέθνηκε Od. 11.464, cf. Il. 10.546, Od. 24.238.


1. than, as, after a Comp., Il. 11.162, etc.: after positive Adjs. which imply comparison, ἄλλος, ἕτερος ἤ.., S. OT 595, Tr. 835 (lyr.); ἐναντίος ἤ Pl. Grg. 481c; ἴδιόν τι πάσχειν πάθος ἢ οἱ ἄλλοι ibid.: after Advbs. or adverbial phrases, πλήν, πρίν, πρόσθεν, χωρίς (qq. v.), ἀλλά (v. ἀλλ' ἤ) ; τῇ ὑστεραίᾳ ἤ.. Id. Cri. 44a (f.l. in Smp. 173a); ἐν τῷ πέμπτῳ καὶ δεκάτῳ ϝέτει ἀπὸ τῶ ποτεχεῖ ϝέτεος ἢ Ἀριστίων ἐφορεύει Tab.Heracl. 1.121; παρὰ δόξαν ἢ ὡς αὐτὸς κατεδόκεε Hdt. 1.79, cf. 8.4; διαφερόντως ἤ.. Pl. Phd. 85b; οὐδ' ὅσον ἤ.. not so much as.., not more than.., Theoc. 9.21: after Verbs implying comparison, βούλεσθαι ἤ.. to wish rather than.., v. βούλομαι IV, αἱρέω B. 11.1b; so φθάνειν ἤ.. to come sooner than.., Il. 23.445, Od. 11.58; ἐπιθυμεῖν ἤ.. X. Cyr. 1.4.3; δέχεσθαι ἤ.. Lys. 10.21: less freq. after a word not implying comparison, δίκαιον ἡμέας ἔχειν.. (sc. μᾶλλον) ἤ περ Ἀθηναίους Hdt. 9.26; ἐμοὶ πικρὸς.. ἢ κείνοις γλυκύς S. Aj. 966 (s.v.l.); δεδικαιωμένος ἢ ἐκεῖνος Luke 18:14.

2. joining two Comparatives which refer to the same subject, πάντες κ' ἀρησαίατ' ἐλαφρότεροι πόδας εἶναι ἢ ἀφνειότεροι Od. 1.165; ταχύτερα ἢ σοφώτερα Hdt. 3.65; μανικώτεροι ἢ ἀνδρειότεροι Pl. Tht. 144b, cf. Ar. Ach. 1078.

3. rarely after a Sup., πλεῖστα θωμάσια ἔχει Αἴγυπτος ἢ ἄλλη πᾶσα χώρη Hdt. 2.35 (s.v.l.); πίθοιτό κεν ὔμμι μάλιστα ἢ ἐμοί A.R. 3.91.

4. ἢ οὐ is used when a neg. precedes, οὐδέν τι μᾶλλον ἐπ' ἡμέας ἢ οὐ καὶ ἐπ' ὑμέας Hdt. 4.118, cf. 5.94, Th. 2.62, etc.: after an implied neg., ὠμὸν.. πόλιν ὅλην διαφθεῖραι μᾶλλον ἢ οὐ τοὺς αἰτίους Id. 3.36.

5. freq. omitted with numerals after πλείων, ἐλάττων, μείων, ἔτη.. πλείω ἑβδομήκοντα v.l. in Pl. Revelation 17:1-18 d; οὐ μεῖον πεντακοσίους X. An. 6.4.24: sts. with an inf. or conditional clause, τί γὰρ ἀνδρὶ κακὸν μεῖζον ἁμαρτεῖν E. Alc. 879; τίς εὐπραξία σπανιωτέρα.., εἰ [δύναμις] πάρεστιν (for ἢ δύναμιν παρεῖναι); Th. 1.33.

6. pleon. with a gen., τίς ἂν αἰσχίων εἴη ταύτης δόξα, ἢ δοκεῖν.. Pl. Cri. 44c, cf. Lys. 10.28.

7. the Disj. and Comp. uses are found together in Il. 15.511 βέλτερον, ἢ ἀπολέσθαι ἕνα χρόνον ἠὲ βιῶναι, ἢ δηθὰ στρεύγεσθαι ἐν αἰνῆ δηϊοτῆτι better, either to die once for all or win life, than long to toil in battle. [ ἢ οὐ, ἢ οὐκ combine by Synizesis into one syll. in Trag. and Com., A. Pr. 330, S. Aj. 334, Ar. Lys. 128; so usually in , Od. 1.298, al.; ἢ αὐτός Hes. Fr. 194; ἢ εἰ Alex. 201.]


1. an exclamation expressing disapproval, ἢ ἢ σιώπα Ar. Nu. 105; ἢ ἤ· τί δρᾶς; E. HF 906 (lyr.), cf. Suid.

2. to call attention, ποῦ Ξανθίας; ἢ Ξανθία where's Xanthias? hi, Xanthias! Ar. Ra. 271.

Thayer's Expanded Definition
 , a disjunctive conjunction (cf. Winer's Grammar, § 53,6). Used

1. to distinguish things or thoughts which either mutually exclude each other, or one of which can take the place of the other: or (Latin aut, vel);

a. to distinguish one thing from another in words of the same construction: Matthew 5:17 (τόν νόμον τούς προφήτας), Matthew 5:36 (λευκήν μέλαιναν); Matthew 6:31; Matthew 7:16; Mark 6:56; Mark 7:11; Luke 2:24; Luke 9:25; John 7:48; John 13:29; Acts 1:7; Acts 3:12; Acts 4:7; Romans 1:21; Romans 3:1; 1 Corinthians 4:3; 1 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 10:19; Galatians 1:10, etc.

b. after an interrogative or a declarative sentence, before a question designed to prove the same thing in another way: Matthew 7:4,9; Matthew 12:29; Matthew 16:26; Matthew 26:53; Mark 8:37; Luke 13:4; Luke 14:31; Luke 15:8; Romans 9:21; Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 6:16.

c. before a sentence contrary to the one just preceding, to indicate that if one be denied or refuted the other must stand: Matthew 20:15 (i. e. or, if thou wilt not grant this, is thine eye etc.); Romans 3:29; 1 Corinthians 9:6; 1 Corinthians 10:22; 1 Corinthians 11:14 ( Rec.); 1 Corinthians 14:36>; 2 Corinthians 11:7; ἀγνοεῖτε etc., Romans 6:3; Romans 7:1 (cf. Romans 6:14); οὐκ ὀικατε etc., Romans 11:2; 1 Corinthians 6:9,16, 19.

d. ... , either ... or, Matthew 6:24; Matthew 12:33; Luke 16:13; Acts 24:20; 1 Corinthians 14:6.

2. in a disjunctive question it corresponds to the Latin an after utrum;

a. preceded by πότερον, John 7:17; cf. Klotz ad Dev. 2:2, p. 574 f; preceded by the interrogative μή, 1 Corinthians 9:8; preceded by μήτι, 2 Corinthians 1:17.

b. without an intertog. particle in the first member of the interrogation: τί ἐστι εὐκοπώτερον, εἰπεῖν ... εἰπεῖν, Matthew 9:5; Mark 2:9; Luke 5:23; add, Matthew 21:25; Matthew 23:17,19; Matthew 27:17; Mark 3:4; Luke 7:19; Acts 8:34.

c. ... ... , Mark 13:35.

3. as a comparative conjunction, than;

a. after comparatives: Matthew 10:15; Matthew 11:22; Luke 9:13; Luke 16:17; John 3:19; John 4:1 ( Tr marginal reading omits; WH brackets ); Acts 4:19; Romans 13:11, and often. is lacking after πλείους followed by a noun of number: Matthew 26:53 T Tr WH; Acts 4:22; Acts 23:13,21; Acts 24:11 (where Rec. adds ); cf. Matthiae, § 455 note 4; Kühner, ii., p. 847; ( Jelf, § 780 Obs. 1); Winer s Grammar, 595 (554); (Buttmann, 168 (146)); Lob. ad Phryn., p. 410f.

b. after ἕτερον: Acts 17:21.

c. πρίν , before that, before, followed by accusative with an infinitive (cf. Buttmann, § 139,35; Winer's Grammar, § 44,6, also, p. 297 (279)): Matthew 1:18; Mark 14:30; Acts 2:20 R G WH marginal reading; Acts 7:2; followed by the aorist subjunc, Luke 2:26 Tr text omits; WH brackets ; Luke 22:34> R G (others ἕως); followed by present optative, Acts 25:16.

d. after θέλω equivalent to to prefer: 1 Corinthians 14:19 (followed by ἤπερ, 2 Maccabees 14:42); examples from Greek authors are given in Klotz ad Devar. 2:2, p. 589f; Winer s Grammar, § 35,2c.; (Buttmann, § 149,7); Kühner, ii., p. 841; ( Jelf, § 779 Obs. 3).

e. after οὐ: John 13:10 R G, where after οὐ χρείαν ἔχει the sentence goes on as though the writer had said οὐκ ἄλλου τίνος χρείαν ἔχει, (cf. Winer s Grammar, 508 (478)).

f. after positive notions, to which in this way a comparative force is given: after καλόν ἐστι ( it is good ... rather than) equivalent to it is better, Matthew 18:8; Mark 9:43,45, 47; cf. Menander's saying καλόν τό μή ζῆν, ζῆν ἀθλιως, and Plautus rud. 4,4, 70 tacita mulier est bona semper, quam loquens; similar examples in the O. T. are Genesis 49:12; Psalm 117:8 (Psalm 118:8>); Jonah 4:3,8; Tobit 6:13 Tobit 12:8; Sirach 20:25 Sirach 22:15; 4 Maccabees 9:1; also after λυσιτελεῖ ( it is gain ... rather than) equivalent to it is better ( Tobit 3:6), Luke 17:2; after χαρά ἐστι ( there will be joy ... more than), Luke 15:7; see examples from Greek authors in Alexander Buttmann (1873) Gram. § 149,7; ( Buttmann, p. 360 (309)); Winer, Kühner, others, as above.

4. with other particles;

a. ἀλλ' , see ἀλλά, I:10, p. 28a.

b. γάρ, see γάρ, I. at the end c. καί (cf. Winer's Grammar, § 53,6 note), α. or even, or also (Latin aut etiam, vel etiam): ( Matthew 7:10 L T Tr WH); Luke 11:11 G L T Tr WH; Luke 11:12; Luke 18:11; Romans 2:15; 1 Corinthians 16:6; 2 Corinthians 1:13. β. or also (Latin an etiam) (in a disjunctive question): Luke 12:41; Romans 4:9.

d. ἤπερ, than at all (Latin quam forte; German als etwa), after a comparitive (cf. Jelf, § 779 Obs. 5): John 12:43 ( L περ, WH marginal reading ὑπέρ) ( 2 Maccabees 14:42; Homer, Hesiod).

e. ἤτοι ... , either indeed (cf. Kühner, § 540,5) ... or: Romans 6:16 ( Wisdom of Solomon 11:19; Herodotus and following).

Thayer's Expanded Greek Definition, Electronic Database.
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Vocabulary of the Greek NT

For this particle in interrogative sentences, where we should accent , and for which from ii/B.C. εἶ is a graphic equivalent, cf. the questions to the oracle, P Fay 137.2 f. (i/A.D.) (= Selections, p. 69) χρημάτισόν μοι, ἦ μείνωι ἐν Βακχιάδι; ἦ μέλω (l. μέλλω) ἐντυνχάνιν; ";answer me, Shall I remain in Bacchias? Shall I meet (him)";, BGU I. 229.8 (ii/iii A.D.) (see Berichtigungen i. p. 27) ἠ μὲν σοθήσωμαι (l. εἰ μὲν σωθήσομαι) ταύτης, ἧς ἐν ἐμοὶ ἀσθενίας, τοῦτόν μοι ἐξένικον (l. τοῦτό μοι ἐξένεγκον). For = ";or,"; see BGU IV. 1141.6 (B.C. 14) ἔπεμψας. . . ἵνα ἐπιγνῶσιν πρὸς ἃ ἔγραψά σοι ἠ (= εἰ) ἔστιν ἢ οὐ, and for . . . PSI IV 324.2 (B.C. 261–0) ἐάν τινες. . . διαγράφωσιν ὑμῖν ἢ τὰς τιμὰς ἢ τὸ παραβόλιον, παραλαμβάνετε κτλ. : the alternative is emphasized by the addition of τε. . . καί in IG XII. 2, 562.5 (Rom. time) εἰ δέ τις τολμήσ [ῃ ἐπι ]βαλέσθαι πτῶμα ἤτε ἀπὸ τοῦ γένους μου ἢ καὶ ἕτερός τις, δώσει κτλ. (cited by Radermacher Gr. p. 27). Ἤτοι. . , while found in classical Greek, is characteristic of Hellenistic speech (Radermacher ut s.), see e.g. P Tebt I. 5.59 (B.C. 118) ἤιτοι κώ (μας) ἢι γᾶς ἢ ἄλλας ἱερὰς πρ (οσόδους), P Ryl II. 154.85 (a contract of marriage—A.D. 66) ἤτοι τοῦ Χαιρήμονος ἀποπέμποντος τ [ ]ν Θαισάριον ἢ καὶ αὐτῆς ἑκουσίω [ς ἀ ]παλλασσομέν [η ]ς [ ]π᾽ αὐτοῦ : cf. Romans 6:16. The combination is common in Vett. Val. (e.g. p. 58.20), who also uses ἤπερ (P. 141.26) and ἤγουν (P. 138.12) for simple . Ἤτοι stands alone in PSI IV. 314.12 (A.D. 195) δραχμὰς ἑξακισχει [λί ]α ̣ς ἤ [τ ]οι τάλαντο ̣ν, P Oxy VI. 888.5 (iii/iv A.D.) διὰ τὸ μὴ παρεῖναι τοῖς ὀρφανοῖς ἐπιτρόπους ἤτοι κου [ράτορας. In PSI III. 158.68 (iii/A.D.?) the place of the particles is reversed—δ ̣ι ̣κ ̣ογράφους ἢ δικολόγους ἤτοι τούτων παραπλ [η ]σίους. For ἢ καί suggesting an afterthought, see P Lond 962.5 (A.D. 254 or 261) (= III. p. 210) δέξαι παρ᾽ αὐτοῦ δραχμὰς διακοσίας καὶ ἔχε αὐτὰς εἴς τε περιχωματισμὸν ἢ καὶ λόγον ὀψωνίων ὡς ἐὰν θέλῃς, ";receive from him two hundred drachmas and employ them for banking-up or (for that matter) for the payment of supplies, as you may wish,"; and for ἀλλ᾽ ἤ, as in 2 Corinthians 1:13, see s.v. ἀλλά, and cf. Blass-Debrunner Gr. § 448. 8.

A good parallel to θέλω. . . in 1 Corinthians 14:19 (cf. 2 Maccabees 14:42) is found in BGU III. 846.16 (ii/A.D.) (= Selections, p. 95) οὐκ οἶδες, ὅτι θέλω πη ̣ρο ̣̣ς γενέσται (l. γενέσθαι), εἲ (= ) γνοῦναι, ο ̣̓́π ̣ως ἀνθρόπῳ [ ]τ [ι ] ὀφείλω ὀβολόν; ";do you not know that I would rather be a cripple than be conscious that I am still owing any one an obolus?";

On the Semitic use of the positive of an adj. followed by , as in Mark 9:43 ff., see Wellhausen Einl..2 p. 21, where reference is also made to the corresponding use of after a verb with μᾶλλον implied in Mark 3:4, Luke 15:7 : in Matthew 18:13 μᾶλλον is expressed.

Πρὶν ἤ with inf., as in Matthew 1:18 al. (cf. Blass-Debrunner Gr. § 395) may be illustrated by PSI III. 171.25 (ii/B.C.) πρὶν ἢ τὰ λοι [π ]ὰ τη ̣̑[ς οἰ ]κοδομῆς τοῦ ὅρμου συντελεσθῆνα ̣ι ̣.

For πρότερον ἤ see PSI IV. 330.2 (B.C. 258–7) [ι ]μην οὖν σοὶ με ̣, ν ̣ γράφειν πρότερον ἢ ἀντιτεῖναι, and cf. ib. 343.3 (B.C. 256–5) μὴ θαυμάσηις ἐπὶ τῶι Νικόλαον ἀπελθεῖν προτοῦ ἢ τὸν λόγον συνθεῖναι, where the editor points out that προτοῦ = πρὸ τοῦ, and compares Syll 300.22 (B.C. 170) πρὸ τοῦ ἢ Γάϊος Λοκρέτιος τὸ στρατόπεδον πρὸς τὴν πόλιν Θίσβας προσήγαγεν = ";antequam . . . admovit.";


The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament.
Copyright © 1914, 1929, 1930 by James Hope Moulton and George Milligan. Hodder and Stoughton, London.
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