Definition of katharevousa in English:



mass noun
  • A heavily archaized form of modern Greek used in traditional literary writing, as opposed to the form which is spoken and used in everyday writing (called demotic).

    • ‘The chief problem with katharevousa was that it was an arbitrary mixture of ancient and modern features.’
    • ‘But I have been told by a Greek friend about an uncle of hers, a priest, for whom katharevousa was the natural medium of expression.’
    • ‘All these words were formed in the 19th century by writers who were using katharevousa.’
    • ‘Although dimotiki has been the official language of Greece since 1974, many types of katharevousa are actively used, mainly in the written language.’
    • ‘He excelled as a pupil and, like the minority of his generation who received schooling, he was taught through the medium of katharevousa - the archaic pure form of the Greek language.’


Early 20th century: modern Greek, literally ‘purified’, feminine of kathareuōn, present participle of Greek kathareuein ‘be pure’, from katharos ‘pure’.