Do "чары" and "charm" share a common etymological root?

According to the OED, "charm" originates (through French) from Latin carmen ("song"), which is believed to originate from the Proto-Indo-European verb *keh₂n- ("to sing").

And according Wiktionary, "чары" is from "Proto-Slavic *čarъ, from Proto-Balto-Slavic *ker- *kēr-, from Proto-Indo-European *kʷer-.

Despite this, the similarities in sound and meaning of the two words seems too great to just be a coincidence...does anyone have any other info about their origin and possible etymological links?

  • 6
    There are several hundred thousand words in English and in Russian, so coincidences like this are bound to happen, merely by statistical reasons. Consider English "have" and Latin habeo, English "bad" and Persian bæd, Russian бяка and Japanese baka, etc.
    – Quassnoi
    Oct 27, 2018 at 9:07
  • Any other info will necessarily be less credible. I know the feeling that it just seems like a waste when two words in different languages are close in sound and meaning, and yet are unrelated. I feel it's important to let go of that emotional attachment to interesting explanations and accept that sometimes comparative linguistics can feel frustratingly messy and random. Oct 27, 2018 at 9:42
  • this is rather a question for linguistics SE to be honest.
    – shabunc
    Nov 2, 2018 at 11:52

1 Answer 1


ЧарыЭтимологический словарь русского языка чары Общеслав. Того же корня, что авест. čārā «средство», др.-инд. karóti «делает», лит. keraĩ «волшебство». Колдовство воспринималось как средство для достижения какой-л. цели. Школьный этимологический словарь русского языка. Происхождение слов. — М.: Дрофа Н. М. Шанский, Т. А. Боброва 2004

The later academician Zaliznyak stated that quantity of sounds was more restricted than quantity of words, thus, there was lots of coincidence, and it was a subject of quasi-scientific speculations.

I believe, we shouldn't make conclusions based upon homophony without a deep research.

If you feel like watching Zaliznyak's speech on this topic (not charm, but quasi-theories in linguistics), you are welcome. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rP3UyDow5i4

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