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Common Words in the Greek and Turkish Language

Greek Turkish Language
Painting of the bazaar at Athens, Ottoman Greece, early 19th century. Public Domain

There are over three hundred Turkish words that are used daily in the Greek language. This is not surprising given the fact that Greeks were under Ottoman occupation for four hundred years.

The period of Ottoman rule was a dark time for Greece. However, during that time and despite the rivalry that existed between the Greeks and the Turks, the Ottoman occupation had a profound impact on Greek society and language.

In addition, Turks and Greeks lived together for nearly a thousand years, as there was a massive Greek population on the Anatolian mainland.

This population was first reduced as a result of the population exchange agreement signed between Greece and Turkey after the Asia Minor catastrophe and resulted in the uprooting of all Greeks in modern Turkey (and Turks in Greece) from where many of them had lived for centuries.

The remaining Greeks predominately resided in Istanbul, but most were forced to flee after the anti-Greek pogrom in Istanbul in 1955.

Common words in the Greek and Turkish language

Today, we can find more than three hundred Turkish words that are used daily in the Greek language. Let’s take a look at some of these.

Greek Turkish English
flytzáni fincan cup
tsépi̱ cep pocket
kaíki kayık boat
manávi̱s manav greengrocerer
bakáli̱s bakal grocer
kav̱gás kavga fight
Ntoulápi dolap closet
hamparia haber news
babas baba father
bahari baharat spice
baruti barut dynamite
bekiaris bekar single man
buzuki bozuk regional musical instrument
divani divan couch
hamalis hamal porter
kaimaki kaymak the creamy part of the milk
karpuzi karpuz watermelon
tavani tavan ceiling
tsantiri cadir tent
tsanta canta bag

Greek words in the Turkish language

However, there are also several Greek words that have been adopted into Turkish. These words have either passed into the Turkish language directly from Greek or through another language e.g. French or English.

Turkish Greek English
efendi afendis (ancient gr. afthendis) boss
ekol sholio school
dramatik dramatikos dramatic
disk diskos disc
epik epikos epic
epilog epilogos conclusion
erotik erotikos erotic
filozof philosophos philosopher
fotometre photometro photometer
galaksi galaksias galaxy
helikopter helikoptero helicopter
hidroliz hydrolysi hydrolysis
ırgat ergatis worker
iklim klima climate
kanape Canapés (ancient gr. konops=mosquito) couch
klor chlorio chlorine
monoton monotonos monotonous
odeon odio odeum
pilot pilotos pilot
sırma syrma wire


Despite their proximity as neighbors and many shared elements in terms of food, music, and culture, Turks and Greeks are often perceived as enemies rather than friends.

On the world stage, Turkey and Greece seem to constantly butt heads, but do Turks and Greeks themselves harbor animosity toward their neighbors?

Despite political tensions, Turks and Greeks, who are both known for their generosity, warmth, and welcoming spirit, seem to have much more in common than many would believe.

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