AskDefine | Define crasis

User Contributed Dictionary



From etyl grc sc=polytonic.




  1. One's constitution; the balance of humours in a person's body.
    • 1759, Laurence Sterne, The Life & Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Penguin 2003, p. 24:
      This is all that ever stagger'd my faith in regard to Yorick’s extraction, who, by what I can remember of him, and by all the accounts I could ever get of him, seem'd not to have had one single drop of Danish blood in his whole crasis
  2. A mixture or combination.
  3. The contraction of a vowel or diphthong at the end of a word with a vowel or diphthong at the start of the following word.

Extensive Definition

Crasis is the contraction of a vowel or diphthong at the end of a word with a vowel or diphthong at the start of the following word. It occurs, for example, in Portuguese, Arabic, and Greek.


In Portuguese, the most frequent crasis is the contraction of the preposition a ("to" or "at") with the feminine singular definite article a ("the"), indicated in writing with a grave accent. For example, instead of *Vou a a praia ("I go to the beach"), one says Vou à praia ("I go to-the beach"). This contraction turns the clitic a into the stressed word à.
Crasis also occurs between the preposition a and demonstratives: for instance, when this preposition precedes aquele, aquela (meaning "that one", with different genders) or aqueles, aquelas (plural), they contract to àquele, àquela, àqueles, àquelas. In this case, the accent marks a secondary stress.
In addition, the vowel à is pronounced lower than the vowel a in these examples in standard European Portuguese, though this qualitative distinction is generally not made in Brazilian Portuguese.


In Greek, the articles το and τα undergo a crasis with various words:
  • τα εμα → ταμα
  • το εναντιον → τουναντιον
  • το αυτο → ταυτο
  • τα αυτα → ταυτα
In addition, και undergoes a crasis with the first-person singular pronoun:
  • και εγω → καγω
  • και εμοι → καμοι
When writing with breathing marks, the breathing mark is placed on one of the vowels resulting from crasis; this is the only case in which a breathing mark is placed on a vowel when the first letter is a consonant.
crasis in Breton: Krasis
crasis in German: Krasis
crasis in Spanish: Crasis
crasis in French: Crase
crasis in Italian: Crasi
crasis in Portuguese: Crase
crasis in Walloon: Etroclaedje
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