Считается, что в русском языке нет исконных слов, начинающихся на букву «А». Как объяснить этимологию слова «аист», явно отличающуюся от лексем в родственных языках?

  • бел. бусел
  • укр. лелека
  • русин. бузёк / чорногуз / боцан
  • польск. bocian
  • словацк. bocian
  • слов. štorklja
  • болг. щъкрел
  • хорв. рода

If there are no original Russian words starting with ‘a’, then how to explain the origins of the word аист (stork)? Cf. with words in other languages:

  • Belorussian бусел
  • Ukrainian лелека
  • Ruthenian бузёк / чорногуз / боцан
  • Polish bocian
  • Slovak bocian
  • Slovene štorklja
  • Bulgarian щъкрел
  • Croatian рода
  • Вопрос сам по себе неплохой, но вы, к сожалению, недостаточно ознакомились с источниками. Тот же Фасмер сразу показал бы, что слово «аист» не имеет ничего общего с «исконностью слов, начинающихся с буквы „а”».
    – theUg
    Commented Jan 16, 2013 at 8:51

2 Answers 2


This is, actually, a very nice question. The short answer is - no one knows for sure the origin of word аист. Though there are some facts that give us some hints:

  • First evidence of using this word in Russian belongs to (most early) XV century.
  • There is no evidence of this word in Proto-Slavic.
  • There exists black (Ciconia nigra) and white (Ciconia ciconia) storks. On the territories populated by Russian language speakers there was no population of white storks before XIX-th century, so originally this word was used to refer black storks only.
  • In Old Russian instead of аист words бусел and стьркъ/стеркъ had been used.
  • Actually, no one knows for sure whether this words really indicated exactly storks, since the can be used for naming all long-leg birds.

As of 2013, anything else besides these fact is at least bit speculative. There are many different hypothesis, none of them is accepted by the majority of linguists. Here is an excellent overview of existing theories on this issue.

Let me conclude with this quote:

“Классическая” версия происхождения названия “аист” звучит так. Из средневерхненемецкого диалекта было заимствовано слово “Heister”. Это одно из старых местных названий сороки (Pica pica). Современное ее наименование в немецком языке — “Elster”. “Heister” в польском языке трансформировалось в “hajster”, "hajstra", затем перешло в украинский и белорусский языки и некоторые диалекты русского в форме “гайстер”.

The theory mentioned above is indeed can be treated as the main candidate to be truthful. But be warned: though this overview is informative indeed, it mentions some fact that also are not 100% reliable. For example, mentioned word лелека, even if it onomatopoeic (which is quite possible indeed, this is quite often case), hardly relates to any sumerian root. But, once again, no one really knows for sure in this case also :)

  • 1
    "For example, mentioned word лелека, even if it onomatopoeic (which is quite possible indeed, this is quite often case), hardly relates to any sumerian root." According to google translate, аист in Turkish is "leylek", explaining "лелека" quite nicely. Commented Jan 16, 2013 at 11:04
  • @dasblinkenlight, you are right, as far as I know, turkic origin is widely acknowledged version.
    – shabunc
    Commented Jan 16, 2013 at 11:09
  • What does leleka or Turkish have to do with Sumerian?
    – Manjusri
    Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 7:06
  • @Manjusri: The conjecture of the Akkadian word being cognate to Ukrainian or Turkic was postulated in the article, and shabunc disagrees with the article's author on this subject.
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 8:19
  • At least the article is a decent source: V. N. Grischenko seems to be a very active author in Ukrainian ornithology.
    – theUg
    Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 21:18

Согласно Фасмеру:

а́ист др.-русск. агистъ (Фасмер, RS 3, 249). Едва ли правильно Mi.EW (2), Бернекер (1, 25), Преобр. (1, 4) связывают с польск. hajster «серая цапля», укр. га́йстер, а́стер «аист черногуз», которые восходят к нем. Heister. Ненадежно также сближение Фасмера (RS 6, 207 и сл.) с прибалтийским этнонимом Aestii (Тацит), лит. Aistmares «Вислинский залив», англос. Estmere (Вульфстан), несмотря на такие параллели, как фламинго, нем. Wallach и др.

Иначе говоря, всё равно неясно, но очевидно, что основные теории даже не рассматривают исконно-славянское происхождение слова «аист».

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