Max Vasmer’s Russisches etymologisches Wörterbuch is the etymological source to go for Russian language, as it seems. But I am having hard time finding English version of it in the West. Popular internet retailers carry only German or Russian versions, the library resources (via WorldCat) are very scarce for books clearly printed in English-speaking countries. Other alternatives such as Terence Wade’s Russian Etymological Dictionary (London, 1996) seem to be a pale shadow of Vasmer (in Wade’s case it’s 1500 words to Vasmer’s 18 000 or so).

Is there English translation of Vasmer’s dictionary (with or without Trubachjov’s addendum)? If not, what do English-speaking academics, philologists and linguists use when studying Russian etymology? Are they expected to know Russian fluently so that they can read the Russian version?

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    I would think any philologists or linguists whose work involves understanding Russian etymology, regardless of their native language, would be fluent in Russian.
    – KCd
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 9:56
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    Doctors, maybe. You surely cannot expect bachelors or undergraduate students to know modern Russian, as well as have decent enough exposure to archaic vocabulary, regional dialects and other branches of Slavic languages to easily navigate something as arcane as a serious etymological dictionary.
    – theUg
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 18:31
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    Ah, sure, students studying linguistics would find value in such dictionaries that are not in Russian.
    – KCd
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 20:42

1 Answer 1


The biggest one I could find is Russian Etymological Dictionary by Vladimir Orel, in 4 volumes, published in 2011. I hope it will suit all your needs.

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