When studying Russian, I often encounter words that seem like they are coming from English. However, that is purely a superficial impression because the words are Latin or Greek.

практиковать - practice
рекомендовать - recommend
периодически - periodically
цензура - censorship

Historically, England had a compelling reason to adopt Latin words because of the Norman Conquest.

Russia, on the other hand, would have adopted such words "voluntarily", right?

The question is, did these borrowings come by way of France in the 1700's, or do they date back to ancient Rome? How long have they been Russian words? Is it an illusion that they are connected to English? Specifically such as in that list: практиковать, рекомендовать, etc.

  • 2
    It's more like England was compelled to use Latin words much later, at least most of those in use today.
    – Zeus
    Dec 6, 2021 at 1:04
  • 9
    @nick012000: if you copy and paste a Russian word into Google translate, it will give you its English transcription and can even read it aloud for you.
    – Quassnoi
    Dec 6, 2021 at 10:56
  • 1
    @nick012000, Russian words have suffixes which are variable/modifiable. So it's natural to remove the suffix when considering the root of the word. If you encountered "practik" in a foreign language, and the definition is "practice", well...
    – Sam
    Dec 6, 2021 at 12:49
  • 4
    @nick012000 it's a bad joke
    – user28434
    Dec 6, 2021 at 14:22
  • 3
    @nick012000 I too am English with almost no knowledge of Russian, but I suddenly realised that "прак..." looks quite similar to the Greek letters "pi-rho-alpha-kappa...", and hence "prac...". (And according to Wikipedia, Cyrillic script is derived from Greek uncial script).
    – TripeHound
    Dec 6, 2021 at 16:12

1 Answer 1


The influx of Latin words into what is now the Russian language happened in several waves:

  • VII-X centuries, direct contact of Slavic people with the speakers of Romance languages: вино < vinum, кот < cattus, голубь < columba etc.

  • X-XII centuries, borrowings through Church Slavonic (which for the most part were themselves through Greek): царь < caesar, рака < arca, палата < palatium etc.

  • XIV-XVIII centuries, borrowings through Polish: почта < postus, спина < spina, школа < schola etc.

  • XVI-XIX centuries, borrowings from or through French: котлета < costa, душ < ductio, роль < rotulus etc. Some of these words had developed in French independently, others had been borrowed into French from other Romance languages.

  • XIX-XXI centuries, borrowings through English: компьютер < computo, лайнер < linea, юмор < humor etc.

  • XVIII-XX centuries, borrowings directly from Latin: казус < casus, корпус < corpus, мотор < motor etc. Most of them are scientific, medical and engineering terms.

Some Latin words also came through German, Italian, Czech and other European languages, but there are fewer of them.

As for your list:

  • практиковать - through Polish
  • рекомендовать - through Polish
  • периодически - through French, ultimately from Greek
  • цензура - most probably through German
  • 5
    Луна is not a borrowing, it is a native Slavic word.
    – Anixx
    Dec 6, 2021 at 11:00
  • @Anixx: you're right, I'll remove it
    – Quassnoi
    Dec 6, 2021 at 13:53
  • @Anixx Sort of native - it derives from the same common ancestor as latin "luna", namely the proto-indo-european lówksneh. Interesting, though, that Latin and Slavic both somewhat independently evolved to the same pronunciation, and around the same time.
    – J...
    Dec 6, 2021 at 17:41
  • @J...: for some reason I was sure that it was an early borrowing from Latin. But then I looked it up in the Etymological Dictionary of Slavic Languages and it specifically mentions that it would have ended up as лына should it have been borrowed from Latin, because of the long u
    – Quassnoi
    Dec 6, 2021 at 18:15
  • @Quassnoi Indeed. I guess it could be an informal borrowing or sharing - passed by word of mouth, etc. It's a common and important enough word (the moon) that it would have been something discussed reasonably frequently, so a convergent evolution seems reasonable given extensive contact between the languages over hundreds of years.
    – J...
    Dec 6, 2021 at 18:22

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