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Лох is a word that I heard among Russians and Ukrainians who never visited Germany. So it’s not quite clear whether the German language is the origin. Can anyone shed any light on the origin of this word?

My guess would be it derives from the German word (Arsch)loch (by sound in Cyrillic it would be approx. [арш-лох]), literally for (ass)hole. But if possible I’d like to see some kind of authoritative answer to the question.

I’ve also heard that German is one of the few languages where most swear words derive from fecal context, where in other languages offensive terms used in a similar way would be derived from a sexual context. This would actually be an argument for the theory that it derives from German, but again, it’s more hearsay than anything.

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Nobody knows where it comes from. The only thing known for sure (as it is a popular theory) is that it isn't derived from the German "Loch".

Wiktionary states that it may be a shortened version of the word лопух (in its informal meaning, "simpleton").

Then, there's Vasmer. His descriptions of the word лох do not include the colloquial meaning, but he has an entry for the word лоха, which is a colloquial word in Pskov and Tver for a stupid woman. Vasmer assumes that it can come from лошь which means "bad". And he has an entry for лашуня which means also something like "simpleton" or just "fool". Vasmer assumes that this word is also dervied from лошь.

And there's also Lurkmore that has an impressive list of supposed origins of the word лох. I won't translate them, as they are most likely all invalid - examples of folk etymology. The version that it originates in German, being derived from Arschloch is also there.

  • @0xC0000022L, glad to help. :) – Anton Zujev Feb 15 '13 at 13:41
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Several versions are presented in http://forum.lingvo.ru. I prefer version German (Ein Loch in dem Kopf) -> Jiddisch -> Russian.

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Definately not. You may find this word, together with many others, in В. И. Даль и тайные языки в России (2004) by В. Д Бондалетов, Владимир Иванович Даль.

All of a sudden, this word (and many others) are presented there like - yes! - borrowings from Finno-Ugric languages of peoples settled in NW Russia.

The word was a part of Ofenya slang and meant then мужик, обыватель, не-офеня.

The source word is Finno-Ugric lohi meaning salmon. The meaning in Ofenya slang was metonimical and stood for salmons being easy capture during spawning season.

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