My list of English words with origin from Greek mythology/popular stories

There is lot of interesting things in a language when you follow it keenly. As a keen observer of the English language, I have come across certain words that have their origin in Greek mythology or that have been inspired by certain historical characters or that have their source from novels. This blog lists down such words. If you know any other words, please write them in the comments box.


Well, I was very much impacted by this word the first time I read it. Narcissism is derived from the Greek character Narcissus who fell in love with his own image that is reflected in a pool of water. Hence, those who excessively love themselves are termed narcissists. This is now a psychological term, and the meaning is even found in Wikipedia and popular dictionaries in an elaborate manner.


This word has its source from the Spanish novel Don Quixote. It is used to describe someone who is highly impractical and does not set realistic yardsticks. Those who are impractical to the core, especially in the quest for achieving their ideals are termed quixotic. For example, if I am dissatisfied with my job and quit it without having one in hand, then I am taking a quixotic decision.


Well, though I generally use English words that are familiar with everyone, this one is an exception. When referring to an impossible task and requiring the enormous physical and mental strength of Greek God Hercules, you can use this word. I got impressed by this word so much so that it was found in most of my writings for a while. Then I consciously started replacing it with other words.

Pandora’s box

Well, I was just aware of the word Pandora’s box which means that something that appears good superficially is in fact detrimental. However, with the passage of time only I came to know that it has a big history attached to it. Pandora is considered to be the first woman created by other gods to punish humanity, and out of curiosity she opened a box which had problems. There is vast information available on the Internet regarding Pandora’s box and you can check them out.

Midas touch

When someone does everything perfectly, especially in making money, then it is called Midas touch. This is derived from Greek mythology’s character Midas, who has the ability to turn everything into gold. This king of Phrygia got this ability from the gods to turn whatever he touches into gold.


Hm.. have you heard of people saying “He has a mercurial temper”? It just means that the person’s behavior is unpredictable. Mercury was the Roman God of commerce, and a mercurial personality has the fickle-mindedness related to Mercury.

Well, this is my small but informative list. If you go through the internet, you will get to know various such words that have their origin from Greek or Roman mythology or even some classics. But the beauty of this list is that I used these words in my writings and have known their usage commendably. Appreciate your list too!

Leave a Comment