What is the meaning of the Greek word θυμοειδής (thumoeides or thymoeidês) in Plato? (I believe it occurs in the Phaedrus and the Republic.) What is its etymology? It apears to me to possibly come from θυμ- (roughly passion) and εἰδ- (knowing or seeing), but I'm not sure that's right. What is the significance of this word in the philosophy of Plato?

(Edit: accents fixed per Jon and Cerberus.)

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    It appears to me that only the last of these questions is properly speaking philosophical; the remainder are really questions for a classicist. Nov 8, 2011 at 18:57
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    The accent is on the last syllable and it is normally an acutus: θῡμοειδής (it usually becomes a gravis if followed by another word). It is declined like ἀληθής. Your etymology is correct. The comon suffix -ειδής probably comes from εἶδος, "shape, nature, kind" ( archimedes.fas.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/… ), which in turn comes from *εἴδω "to see", from PIE *wid- "see".
    – Cerberus
    Nov 9, 2011 at 2:19
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    @MichaelDorfman the entire question is philosophical in the sense that it arose in a philosophical context and the reason I want to understand the word is to make sure I rightly understand the concept that Plato is communicating.
    – Kazark
    Nov 9, 2011 at 4:43

2 Answers 2


Perseus digital library has quite a few Greek texts and provides access to a few Attic Greek Lexicons. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/searchresults?q=qumoeidhs&target=greek

This entry is from the Liddle-Scott-Jones on Perseus:

θυ_μο-ειδής , ές,

A. high-spirited, τὸ θ. Hp.Aër.12; opp. ἄθυμος, Pl. R.456a; opp. ὀργίλος, ib.411c. 2. passionate, hot-tempered, opp. πραΰς, ib.375c. b. of horses, mettled, X.Mem.4.1.3; opp. εὐπειθέστατος, Id.Smp.2.10: Comp., opp. βλακωδέστερος, Id.Eq.9.1. 3. Philos., τὸ θ. spirit, passion, opp. τὸ λογιστικόν, τὸ ἐπιθυμητικόν, Pl. R.440e, al., cf. D.L.3.67. Adv. “-δῶς” Hdn.4.3.3.

There should be an acute accent over the "eta" as shown above.

The sentence cited from the Republic is this: "καὶ γυμναστικὴ δ᾽ ἄρα οὔ, οὐδὲ πολεμική, ἡ δὲ ἀπόλεμος καὶ οὐ φιλογυμναστική; οἶμαι ἔγωγε.τί δέ; φιλόσοφός τε καὶ μισόσοφος; καὶ θυμοειδής, ἡ δ᾽ ἄθυμός ἐστι; καὶ ταῦτα." So here "θυμοειδής" (spirited) is contrasted with "ἄθυμός" (spiritless). I suggest you look into Plato's tripartite soul (especially in the Republic): he divides the soul into the appetitive, the rational, and the spirited. In the Republic, Adeimantus perhaps is an example of someone ruled by the spirited part of his soul (as opposed to say, Glaucon, who seems more concerned with the "relishes", and thus, might be governed more by the appetitive part).


It refers to the irrational part of man.
Plato had divided the psychi (in loose translation soul) in 3 parts one of which was θυμοειδές which refered to the part of the man responsible for actions out of instict.

The word θυμος (which is the first part of the word) actually means anger in Greek and and είδος means in Greek kind or part of.

So the word in Greek actually encapsulates the meaning of irrational/instictive behavior.

Plato recomended to men to always submit θυμοειδες to λογιστικον which is the rational part of phychi

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