This is stemming from a question on BH-SE. Are faith (πίστις) and hope (ἐλπίς) related linguistically? Is it at all possible that ἐλπίς is actually el/eli + πίστις or something + faith? If not, is there any insight from linguistics into the differentiation between these two words?

  • 3
    Probly not. According to the AHD of PIE roots, πίστις comes from the PIE root *bheidh, while ἐλπίζω comes from PIE *wel.
    – jlawler
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 0:33
  • 3
    Can I ask that the words from that exotic language be rendered in IPA, as well as in their own obscure orthography? Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 1:36
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    @GastonÜmlaut Seriously? The Greek alphabet is still in use today, it's taught in high school in dozens of countries, it's used in math and is a parent of both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets. "Obscure" might be a bit much. This is a site for linguistics after all!
    – terdon
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 11:16
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    Not much point in putting Classic Greek in IPA. Nobody would understand it then, since the language has no native speakers and no speech community, and any pronunciations would be reconstructions.
    – jlawler
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 18:53
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    ἐλπίζω would be /˨ɛl˦pi˨zdɔ:/. Or should I put the tone signs after their syllables?
    – fdb
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 11:45

2 Answers 2


These words are not considered to be related.

πίστις ‘faith, trust’ and the verb πείθομαι ‘to trust, obey, be persuaded’ come from Indo-European *bhidh-, related to Latin fides, with *bh- > *ph- > p according to Grassmann’s law.

ἐλπίς ‘hope’, ἐλπίζω, ἔλπομαι ‘to hope’, is from Indo-European *uelp-, perhaps cognate with Latin voluptas. There is no prefix involved.

(Partial overlap with jlawler.)

  • "Grassmann's law, named after its discoverer Hermann Grassmann, is a dissimilatory phonological process in Ancient Greek and Sanskrit which states that if an aspirated consonant is followed by another aspirated consonant in the next syllable, the first one loses the aspiration" --Wikipedia.
    – Sarah
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 0:55
  • 1
    Yes, that is correct.
    – fdb
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 0:57

I would edit the question but it wouldn't make much sense after.

  1. So, let me explain that faith is πίστις but hope is not ἐλπίζω but ελπίς. Ελπίζω is the verb not the noun.
  2. The etymology of those two words is not related:
    ἐλπίς < ἔλπω (make someone have hope)
    πίστη < πείθω

as you can see. As for the conjugation it self is also different:
ελπίς (nominative) -> ελπίδος (genitive)
πίστις (nominative) -> πίστεως (genitive)

  • I edited the question based on what you said. Thank you for your help and answer.
    – Sarah
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 15:59

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