Compound nouns (substantives and adjectives) are divided, according to their meaning, into three main classes: determinative, possessive, and prepositional-phrase, compounds.
a. The logical relation of the parts of compounds varies so greatly that boundary-lines between the different classes are difficult to set up, and a complete formal division is impossible. The poets show a much wider range of usage than the prose-writers.896
Determinative Compounds.—In most determinative compounds the first part modifies or determines the second part: the modifier stands first, the principal word second.
Thus by hand-work a particular kind of work is meant, as contrasted with machine-work; cp.
a. The first part may be an adjective, an adverb, a preposition, an inseparable prefix, or, in a few cases, a substantive.897
There are two kinds of determinative compounds.
(1) Descriptive determinative compounds.—The first part defines or explains the second part in the sense of an adjective or adverb. (This class is less numerous than the second class.)
a. Copulative compounds are formed by the coördination of two substantives or adjectives: ἰ_α_τρό-μαντις
b. Comparative compounds (generally poetic) are μελι-ηδής
(2) Dependent determinative compounds.—A substantive forming either the first or the second part stands in the sense of an oblique case (with or without a preposition) to the other part.
N. 1.—The Greeks did not think of any actual case relation as existing in these compounds, and the case relation that exists is purely logical. The same form may be analysed in different ways, as φιλάνθρωπος φιλῶν ἀνθρώπους or = φίλος ἀνθρώπων.
N. 2.—Such compounds may often be analysed by a preposition and a dependent noun: θεό-δμητος
Possessive Compounds.—In possessive compounds the first part defines the second as in determinatives; but the whole compound is an adjective expressing a quality, with the idea of possession understood. In most possessive compounds the idea of having (ἔχων) is to be supplied.
So, in English, redbreast is a bird having a red breast, the first part being an attribute of the second.
a. Adjectives in -ειδής from εἶδος
b. English possessive compounds in -ed apply that ending only to the compound as a whole and not to either member. In Milton: deep-throated, whitehanded, open-hearted; in Keats: subtle-cadenced. Besides those in -ed there are others such as
c. Many possessive compounds begin with α' (ν)-negative or δυς-
Prepositional-phrase Compounds.—Many phrases made of a preposition and its object unite to form a compound and take on adjectival inflection. Such compounds are equivalent to the phrases in question with the idea of being or the like added.
a. From such phrases are derived verbs and substantives: ἐγχειρίζω
b. The compounds of 899 represent bits of syntax used so frequently together that they have become adherent.
Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].