+1 vote
I thought the first two words are the same and that one is modern and one older. However after looking at dictionaries i noticed there is a difference in definition. Metanow and metaniwnw is not the same. One must be repent and the other regret. Please have a look. And where does that leave the word Metameloumai? I am confused. I am having some trouble grasping what is the difference of these words, since different dictionaries are giving me different answers. This has been happening to me a lot lately. The issue of synonyms is also adding to the problem and making it hard for me to learn greek properly, since most of the time i try to look for a definition it seems that dictionaries and translators just keep throwing around a whole bunch of synonyms. I don't want synonyms or interpretations. I am trying to find a word for word translation (not interpretation and not synonyms) of certain greek words in english. A word is a compressed container, when you uncompress a word it reveals its meaning. So a five letter word can have five sentences of information in it. When you look up a word in the dictionary you thus uncompress the word and you get a definition and interpretation. The reason i ask for getting a word for word translation of a word is that because once i have the word in english or greek i can use it in context without having to interpret the words meaning every time i am trying to have a conversation. I don't want to keep having to interpret the meaning of a word every time i am writing something. It makes a one page text into a three page text. If someone needs a definition or interpretation, then they can take the word and look it up in a dictionary themselves. However most times greek to english words are given as a interpretations or synonyms and not a translations. For example the word "water" in the dictionary is defined as: "The liquid that descends from the clouds as rain, forms streams, lakes, and seas, and is a major constituent of all living matter and that when pure is a odourless, tasteless, very slightly compressible liquid oxide of hydrogen h2o which appears bluish in thick layers, freezes at 0C and boils at 100c, has a maximum density at 4c and a high specific heat, is feebly ionized to hydrogen and hydroxyl ions and is a poor conductor of electricity and a good solvent." I imagine if every time i wanted to use the word water i would say all of that lol. No way i need to know the word water, a five letter word that when uncompressed has 50 words of information. This is why i am trying to find a word for word translation of a word. Water is Nero in greek, not having to interpret what water is. Another issue is synonyms, imagine going to a greek store and wanting to ask for a bottle of water but instead asking for a bottle of liquid. lol The guy will look at you like...wth...lol I know that is not a good example but my point is that a lot of times synonyms are interchangeable but sometimes they are not, and in certain context you need the appropriate word. This is the biggest problem i am facing today. Every translator or dictionary either gives me interpretations or if they give me a word for word it would be a greek word with 25 synonyms so i can never understand which one of the twenty five synonyms is the correct word translation. I am asking for some help here. I hope you can help me Vasiliki Baskos. Two problems i am facing, one is that to many synonyms are being thrown around, and second to many interpretations. This is making it difficult and  preventing me and many others learning the language properly. I have fifteen dictionaries at home. None of them are consistent. And I'm not talking about only english to greek dictionaries, which when you compare five different ones they all have a different words or just throw five synonyms, but to further complicate things, even english or greek standalone dictionaries (not english to greek)  can never fully agree on a definition. I have been studying greek and english for five years now and i have looked at almost very single dictionary, book, website, translator, wiki, i have been to lectures and online courses and i have been to greek school when i was young, and trust me when i tell you that i have come to the conclusion that there is no one who can properly speak a language and no one that has successfully accomplished translating a language to another language properly. Seems like a confusion (tower of babel type of confusion).

1 Answer

0 votes

Hi Steve

All of the following words mean “regret”.  Here are the differences:

Μετανιώνω : Used in modern Greek.  Example: Μετάνιωσα που έφυγα από το σπίτι τόσο νωρίς.

Μετανοώ : This is an older form of the word, used in more formal instances.  Preferred word for religious context.  Example:  “Μόνο άμα μετανοήσετε θα σωθείτε” είπε ο Χριστός.

Μεταμέλομαι or μεταμελούμαι :  This is the ancient form of the word.  Not used in modern Greek.

I do understand your concerns, I’ll try to be short and concise.

1.  You cannot learn a language from dictionaries.

2. Good dictionaries are the ones that give examples for each synonym, to explain the differences.

3. Best dictionaries to comprehend the meaning of a word are the ones offering definitions. Advanced students are best served by a Greek dictionary that offers definitions of the words in Greek, rather than a Greek-English one.

4. Each language has words that do not correspond 1-to-1 to every other language.  For example Greece has extended shorelines and great nautical history.  As a result there are dozens of words for boats and ships.  A language spoken by people who always lived in the mountains or desert is highly unlikely that will have exact translations to all of them.  Likewise Scandinavian countries have dozens of synonyms for the word snowflake.  In Greece it does not snow often and we do not have such a wealth of words for this.

5. The translators translate meanings, not words.  The true meaning is revealed from the context of the script, not the exact word.  And many times translations do loose something from the original.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Vasiliki Baskou, Instructor/Director, https://learn-greek-online.com.

by (45.0k points)
Thank you for the reply. English to greek dictionaries cannot be used to learn language i agree. However, i have many greek dictionaries, (standalone not english to greek) and these dictionaries offer great definitions and examples for each synonym.

The issue is that Μετανιώνω, Μετανοώ and Μεταμέλομαι or μεταμελούμαι have different definitions in dictionaries (greek dictionaries not english to greek), which leaves me to come to the conclusion that one word means regret (i changed my mind (Μετανιώνω). Example, i regret giving you this book, i changed my mind about giving you this book), the other word means "feeling regret" (μεταμελούμαι) and the other means "repent" (Μετανοώ).

 Μετανοώ which comes from the 2 words Μετα (after) and εννοώ (understood), thus Μετα+νοώ which means (after i understood) or (i understood after). Basically i (understood after) what i did was wrong and want to change stance or life or way of life. It signifies that i made a mistake and i "understood after" that what i did was wrong.

Thus, me·ta·no·eʹo (repent) stresses the changed stance/viewpoint or disposition, a rejecting of the past or intended course or action as undesirable, while me·ta·meʹlo·mai (felt regret) lays emphasis on the feeling of regret experienced by the person. And Μετανιώνω is a simple regret (i regret giving you this book) without needing showing or emphasizing much on the feeling of regret (i felt regret), rather emphasizing more on the "i changed my mind about lending you this book".

Μετανιώνω seems to be used as meaning (i regret) but has nothing to do with repent. You can say "Μετάνιωσα που έφυγα από το σπίτι τόσο νωρίς" or "Μετάνιωσα" because this shows that i simply changed my mind or (i regret) not repent. You would not say "μετανόησα που έφυγα από το σπίτι τόσο νωρίς or μετανόησα που Σας έδωσα αυτό το βιβλίο, because it would be like saying "i repent giving you this book" or "i repent leaving my house so early". You would instead say "Μετάνιωσα που έφυγα από το σπίτι τόσο νωρίς." I regret.

"Και μετανόησα, και ικέτεψα το Θεό να με συγχωρήσει", Here it is "repent"

So in conclusion:

Μετανιώνω : Regret

Μετανοώ : Repent

Μεταμέλομαι or μεταμελούμαι: felt regret (feeling regret)

Definitions in greek dictionary using the same dictionary for all three words:

μεταμελούμαι: μετανιώνω για ορισμένο κακό που έκανα, αισθάνομαι θλίψη γι΄ αυτό. "Ο διαρρήκτης μεταμελήθηκε για την πράξη του και επέστρεψε τα κλοπιμαία στον ιδιοκτήτη. ~ για ό,τι είπα / έκανα."

 We see that here it is showing that i regret and then felt sorrow. Laying emphasis on the feeling of regret experienced by the person.

Μετανιώνω: 1. αλλάζω γνώμη για κτ. που έκανα ή που σκοπεύω να κάνω: Δε σου δίνω το βιβλίο που σου υποσχέθηκα, γιατί μετάνιωσα. 2. μετανοώ: ~ για τα λόγια που είπα και ζητάω συγγνώμη. [μετάνοι(α) -ώνω (ορθογρ. απλοπ.)]

In the first definition we see a simple regret (changed my mind about lending you this book). However in the second definition it shows μετανοώ as a second definition with a example. Thus Μετανιώνω and μετανοώ are different. It is trying to tell us that as a first definition it means regret but as a second definition it means repent. Repent is a deeper regret, when you simply regret something you don't actually change your life and beg for forgiveness. However, repent is deeper, you truly realize and are aware that what you did was wrong, you "understood after" and want to change. Repent is sometimes not only a change of stance but also life changing, especially if it is with true awareness.

Μετανοώ: 1. λυπάμαι, μετανιώνω για κάποιο κακό που έκανα, αισθάνομαι θλίψη γι΄ αυτό και επιδιώκω να το επανορθώσω· μεταμελούμαι: Ο Θεός συγχωρεί εκείνους που μετανοούν ειλικρινά. 2. μετανιώνω.

Here again we see 2 definitions. The second is a simple regret like your example of i regret leaving my house so early. However, the first definition shows us something deeper than the other 2 words Μετανιώνω and μεταμελούμαι. It actually shows us that it is like going through 3 steps or phases. It includes regret and feeling regret which leads us to repent. In order to repent you need to first regret what you did and also realize and understand why it was truly wrong. Then this regret if it is done with a sincere heart becomes a deep feeling of regret, and then this realization of wrong doing and feeling of regret leads to you repenting for what you did.

So if you read the definitions for all 3 words you can see that there is a clear difference between all 3 words. Keep in mind these came from the same dictionary. I randomly chose one.

Is there any validity to what i am saying?