When you think of the word Philemon pronunciation is maybe the first thing that comes to mind.
But the pronunciation of Philemon is pretty simple.
Who Was Philemon?
Philemon is the name of a man who received a letter from the Apostle Paul in the New Testament.
Now, Paul wrote in Greek to this man. And in Greek, his name is…
And that looks complicated to the typical English reader. But let’s break it down.
The Greek Letters Behind Philemon’s Pronunciation
- φ is the Greek consonant phi and it sounds like an English f.
- ι is the Greek vowel iota and it sounds like a short English i.
- λ is the Greek consonant lambda and sounds like the English l.
- ή is the Greek vowel eta which sounds like ay in the English word say. Also notice the accent mark above the letter. That most likely means that this vowel was given the stress when the word was pronounced.
- μ is the Greek consonant mu and sounds like an English m.
- ο is the vowel omicron and sounds like a short o in English.
- ν is the consonant nu and sounds like the English n.
- ο (see above!)
- ς is the Greek consonant sigma in the form they used to end words (Yes, they had two forms of that one Greek letter!). It sounds like an English s.
Philemon Pronunciation in Greek
So, when you put these letters all together you have a word that sounds like this…
Philemon Pronunciation in English
And yet, we English speakers don’t usually pronounce our words like this. So, here’s the more typical way to pronounce Philemon in English…
How Philemon is Abbreviated
And if you’re curious as to how Philemon might be abbreviated when referenced as a book of the Bible, it can appear as Phm. as in Phm 1:4 or simply (because it consists of only one chapter) Phm 4.
Φιλήμονος is the genitive of his name (roughly equivalent to the possessive), meaning Philemon’s or “of Philemon”
The nominative of his name is Φιλήμων and is pronounced in English Figh-LEE-mon with the accent on the middle syllable. There are specific rules about pronouncing Greek names in English.
Dr. Domingo-Forasté – You are correct about the Genitive/Nominative distinctions. I should make that correction to the article.
As for pronunciation, my understanding is that we actually don’t know the exact pronunciation because we’re talking about a language that is not currently in use outside of the ecclesiastical/academic realms. As such, in seminary I learned to pronounce the eta as “ay” and the omega as “oh”. The iota in this case I thought would not have been pronounced like “eye” but rather as a short “ih” sound.
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So it’s pronounced fi-LAY-mn? Like a French Filet with a man at the end like “one who does”? Eg. Fisherman (FISH-er-mn)
So if this is true, and I’m being facetious, then Philemon is someone who cuts fish yes?