I found it in one choir in Mussorgsky's Хованщина. The song goes like this:

Плывёт, плывёт лебёдушка, ладу, ладу,

плывёт навстречу лебедю, ладу, ладу.

etc.; the „ладу, ладу“ is regularly repeated at the end of every line. What does it mean? (And does it mean anything at all, or is it only an interjection like "fa la la" in English?)

E: Thank you both. Since they both are very good, I just accepted one randomly.

  • 1
    I suppose, nothing special. Something like "bla-bla-bla", just for the rhyme etc.
    – d.k
    Jan 24, 2017 at 14:35
  • @Ramillies I'm not a native speaker of Russian and I have no evidence to support this, but when I first heard act IV, I perceived ладу as an interjection reinforcing the impression of the swan swimming/floating like a ладья. The fact that none of the answers here mention anything of that sort means I was probably wrong.
    – ngn
    Apr 15, 2018 at 4:35

3 Answers 3


Unfortunately nobody can tell you for sure what the word ладу in the refrain means. It has been mentioned though that it's not connected with the goddess. What is well known is the fact that such refrains are used in three types of folk songs:spring, summer and wedding songs. That means they were devoted to some customs and traditions and were khorovod songs which included some movement to the music. Those words helped the rythm or the beat.Used in other parts of the song the word лада meant dear, beloved.


In this song (and in many other folk songs) it's just a refrain.

As for it's origin there are several opinions what "ладу", "ладо", "лада", "дид-ладо" means.

  1. Nothing - it's just a refrain, like "fa-la-la" (I guess most scientists agree on this)

  2. There is a word ладо/лада is also used in folk poetry meaning "beloved" or "spouse" (Ushakov's dictionary):

    ЛА́ДА, лады (нар.-поэт.).

    1. жен. Милая, возлюбленная, жена.
    2. муж. и жен. Милый, возлюбленный, мужск. Мой лада или моя лада.

I think this connection makes sense, because лебедь (swan) and лебёдушка (pen) here are used to tell a "love story".

  1. (rather popular, but incorrect) A refrain is based on a name of pagan goddess Lada (Лада) (or her male counterpart Lado (Ладо)). However most scientists think that this "goddes" was invented based on those refrains, since we don't know much about slavic mythology.

For more details see Wikipedia (in Russian) English article is less detailed and says nothing about invention of a goddess name.

  • Слушайте ну вы серьёзно думаете что в песне богиня упоминается? В звательном, может падеже)))))
    – shabunc
    Jan 24, 2017 at 15:32
  • Нет не упоминается, есть люди, которые считают что слово "ладо" основано на имени богини.
    – Artemix
    Jan 24, 2017 at 15:40
  • А вот Фасмер пишет: «ла́да (м., ж.) "супруг, супруга", ладый "милый, любимый", др.-русск. лада "супруг" (СПИ), укр. ла́до, ла́да "супруг, супруга" (о лжебожестве Лада см. Потебня, РФВ 7, 226 и сл.), болг. ой ладо, ладо! – припев, ла́да "вторая дочь в семье, которая при обряде ладу́ване идет за водой (свадебная церемония)", сербохорв. ла̏да "супруга".»
    – Yellow Sky
    Jan 24, 2017 at 16:24
  • @Artemix ну может быть ))) вообще я никогда не задумывался как связано слово употребляемое в песне и слово ладный.
    – shabunc
    Jan 24, 2017 at 16:58
  • can it be vocative of lada?
    – Anixx
    Jan 24, 2017 at 17:23

Addition: Лад – old Russian word (maybe even Slavic word). Лад is not only about love. Лад also means peace, harmony, order, consent. All connected with the word лад means something good: verb поЛАДить (make peace, get along (with), get on (with), come to an understanding), adjective ЛАДный (harmonious).

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