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I recently accidentally discovered that the Russians call wild boars by a word borrowed from Turkic languages - "кабан." The etymological dictionary by Preobrazhensky clearly states:

Заимств. из тюрк.: сѣврнтюрк. кабан.тат.-азерб. кирг. тж.

My humble feeling is that it is a shame that in the Russian language such a rudely sounding Turkic word is used for such a cute harmless non-predatory animal that was always widespread in historically Russian forests. My perception of the rudeness of this word well may be wrong, but it sounds rude to me because of the ending ан, which, for example, converts the neutral word "старик" to the rude word "старикан." I wonder how your powerful language could borrow a Turkic word for an animal native to your own historical lands. It is your animal.

This made me wonder what the original Russian word for a wild boar is. The Russians must have somehow called such a widespread animal before the word "кабан" was borrowed. I have a feeling that the original Russian word for a wild boar must sound in a very nice Slavic manner, at least better than the word "кабан" does.

I searched in Google and looked in various dictionaries, but could not find anything. Being unable to resolve the mystery on my own, I decided to ask here.

My question is this: What is, or was, the indigenous Russian word for a wild boar, and can I use this word in modern Russian? Какое есть (или было) исконное русское слово для кабана, и могу ли я использовать это слово в современном русском языке?`

I am also curious why the Turkic word "кабан" won and became the standard Russian word for a wild boar.

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You are probably looking for “вепрь”. While understandable to a modern Russian speaker, it still has an air of “fairytale-ness”. I personally would just use “кабан”. I don't know how and why “кабан” got more popular in common speech, and I'm not sure, if there even is a reason.

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Каба́н, вепрь, ди́кая свинья́ - всё это значения одного и того же дикого животного. В современной речи чаще всего употребляются слова "кабан" или "дикая свинья", реже используется "вепрь", чаще всего среди охотников. Эти животные очень опасны, они совсем не безобидны как вам могло показаться.

  • >>Эти животные очень опасны, они совсем не безобидны как вам могло показаться.<< Boars are non-predatory animals and won't attack you unless you provoke them. Besides, boars are simply cute. Look at this video: youtu.be/KBqBRxPwFJQ . A boar is wandering in a city, and no one is afraid of it. Isn't it cute and harmless? – Mitsuko May 29 at 10:33
  • Why would a boar attack a human? Boars are not sharks and do not eat people. – Mitsuko May 29 at 10:40
  • @Mitsuko wild animals are wild animals, also when it comes to piglets mother-boar can be extremely defensive. – shabunc May 29 at 10:56
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    @Mitsuko wild male boars are dangerous animals, especially during the rut or protecting cubs. youtu.be/dHrQbRJ_SLU?t=1011 . They are not only vegetarian, boars are omnivorous, they can also eat animal food and carrion. Body length up to 175 cm, height at the withers up to 1 m. The weight of an adult boar usually does not exceed 100 kg, although it can reach 150-200 kg. No kidding, it's really dangerous animal, sometimes kind of killing maсhine. – Toivo May 29 at 19:26
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"Кабан" is Russian word nowadays and one who want to speak modern Russian should treat it as such.

Well, in Japanese language you have a lot of words of foreign origin - and actually any language has - no language in a world is a pure isolate. In fact when borrowing is old native speakers sometimes even don't suspect that this is a foreign word, like it happened with хлеб for instance.

The same happened with кабан. It is already mentioned in the answers provided that вепрь was original word for wild boar but what wasn't mentioned that in Russian there were tens of dialectal words for wild boars and male wild boars specifically - like секач, свинья (was used for wild board as well), клыкач, кнорозъ, парсюк, килун, киляк, самур, корюх - and actually this list is far from being complete.

I can not claim that all this words are gone - may be in some dialects some if this words are still used. However what I can claim is that in standard Russian only вепрь (which is poetic) and боров (male pig, no matter domesticated or wild) are existing words.

See the thing is that wild and domesticated pigs played quite important role in the life of Slavic people. And just like it happens with the most important phenomena, Slavic people developed a huge vocabulary for both wild and domesticated pigs. Quite often when something like this happen a common word of not necessarily "indigenous" origin finally prevails.

Also it worth to mention that this is yes, definitely a Turkic borrowing however quite often people mistakenly attribute this to the Golden Horde period - while actually from what we know it most likely was borrowed in XVII if not XVIII century - most likely after contact with Siberian and/or Caucasian Turks. In XIX centuries dictionaries вепрь already was mentioned as a synonym to кабан.

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    Thanks a lot for such a detailed answer. I always like reading detailed enlightening explanations. It is great to know that the Russians had so many words for a wild boar. To be honest, I expected something cute like дикосвинка, but apparently the Russians saw boars as strong dangerous animals, as other responses suggest... – Mitsuko May 29 at 10:48
  • @Mitsuko wild boar sometimes can be a very dangerous animal, that's true ) – shabunc May 29 at 10:49
  • @Mitsuko here's a relevant fragment from Russian comedy - youtube.com/watch?v=ylnB135Reks – shabunc May 29 at 11:01
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    The word секач is still used by hunters by the way! – Curiosity May 30 at 6:39

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