The other day I learned Russian word "цель".

It struck me how similar it sounded to the German word "Ziel".

Is there a connection or is it just a coincidence that they sound similar?

1 Answer 1


Just like many word of German origin it came through Polish, here’s relevant quote from wiktionary (which, can not help but notice is almost always best starting point when you have a question about etymology):

Borrowed from Polish cel (“aim, goal”), in turn from Middle High German zil.

By the way, there’s a bunch of other relatively recent borrowing from German many Russians got used to that extent that it doesn’t feel like a foreign word - «штука»would be my favorite example.

  • Wow this is fascinating. Thank you! Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 19:44
  • 2
    ru.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/… Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 20:05
  • My favourite example of this kind is ярмарка. Can you guess what German word it's based n? Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 20:08
  • 2
    @mathreadler Jahr + Markt ;)
    – shabunc
    Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 20:24
  • 4
    @mathreadler - Гость is not a borrowing from German, it's an originally Slavic word, but it is a cognate with the German Gast, both derive from the Proto-Indo-European *gʰóstis 'stranger, guest, enemy'. Latin hostis 'enemy' (like in English 'hostile') also is derived from the same PIE root.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 20:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.