This is a follow up to the question Has кофе become neutral?

I have read somewhere on the web that it is now acceptable to write заец instead of заяц. Not that I am going to do that, just like I am going to continue to use кофе as masculine. Just curious.

  • 10
    Shouting Заеееец in the wild is still a good way to summon an avalanche.
    – GSerg
    Jun 15, 2012 at 15:28
  • 1
    Note that the louder you shout Ну, заец!, the safer you are. Thats an inexplicable paradox. Dec 11, 2014 at 10:32

3 Answers 3


I remember reading a while ago (so I tracked it down) an article from Известия on this subject: http://www.izvestia.ru/news/250227

As far as I understand/remember/know, this was one of the possible suggested spelling changes, however it did not even make it into any official drafts. So, AFAIK, this is wrong. And hare is still spelled as заяц.

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    Good! The order in the Universe has been restored. :)
    – Dima
    Jun 15, 2012 at 15:09

There is not a single dictionary that lists "заец".

You mentioned the case of кофе as an analogy. Well, I should argue that it's not, really. All the words in Russian that end in е are neutral, except for coffee. So, logically, it should be neutral as well, it's just that we have traditionally used it as masculine and its usage as neutral hits the ear wrong with no linguistic or logical reason whatsoever, only historical reasons.

The spelling заец, on the other hand, is completely illogical. Consider the plural - зайцы. The я->й shift is common in Russian, however, е->й is not. So, there would be no compelling reason to accept this weird spelling.

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    I am guessing that кофе started out as кофий, which explains why it is masculine. That also makes it consistent with чай. ;)
    – Dima
    Jun 15, 2012 at 15:11
  • Кофе is not all the words, because it was borrowed.
    – theUg
    Jun 16, 2012 at 6:43
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    Actually, заяц is the only surviving Russian word with a fleeting я (historically, fleeting ѩ, a nasal vowel). Fleeting е, on the other hand, is quite common: кореец, нанаец, молотобоец.
    – Quassnoi
    Jun 19, 2012 at 15:05
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    As far as I remember the spelling of this word had to be changed in 1918 along with other similar words, but the authors of the reform decided that new spelling will look weird in this particular case.
    – Artemix
    Jul 26, 2013 at 12:25
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    All the words in Russian that end in е are neutral - you probably only mean inanimate words. Otherwise they can very well be masculine: падре, подмастерье, шансонье.
    – J-mster
    Jan 8, 2015 at 15:16

Note that outside of the animal world, Заец is a perfectly valid and relatively common family name...

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    Note that it comes from Ukrainian заєць.
    – theUg
    Jun 16, 2012 at 7:16

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