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Recently I discovered the word склока and I was very surprised that its main meaning was "to squabble". For squabble, I would have felt that ссора or драка would be more appropriate.

So is склока in any way, shape or form in current usage in Russian society? If two kids were squabbling, would the parents describe it as a склока? Or is this term more relevant to some book by Tolstoy or Dostoevski?

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  • "Деньги - склока, а без них плохо" Sep 19 '14 at 8:41
  • I'm a native speaker born in 1990, and this is the first time I've seen this word.
    – Ruslan
    Dec 4 '15 at 17:42
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While the noun "склока" is not widely used in everyday speech, the adjective "склочный" and, to a lesser extent, the noun "склочник" are quite common.

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    Is it from personal experience? They are all pretty rare (of a "never spoken it in my life kind"). Any proof I could find (corpus, Yandex, Google ngrams) shows both of them being even more rare than the original "склока". Obviously, as no one anywhere near me speaks like that, I cannot directly observe the frequency of any of these (it is exactly zero).
    – Shady_arc
    Aug 11 '14 at 4:34
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    @Shady_arc I second Alex, even if also just from personal experience. "Склочный" and, to a lesser degree, "склочник" and "склока" actively used. Might be a generational thing, though, now that I think of it...
    – P_S
    Aug 11 '14 at 7:21
  • @P_S I mean that the words are certainly in passive vocabulary, and people use it in media. But I have never heard a real person use the word in everyday speech (speech that is not prepared or intended to produce some certain effect).
    – Shady_arc
    Aug 11 '14 at 12:36
  • I have nothing against personal experience. It just was not clear from the post (objectively the word is not muvch more popular than "терем", "приданое" or "славянофил" — a moderately rare word for a specific purpose)
    – Shady_arc
    Aug 11 '14 at 12:48
  • @Shady_arc It is indeed from personal experience as I regularly communicate verbally with dozens of native speakers on both sides of the ocean.
    – Alex
    Aug 11 '14 at 13:46
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It is used, though, perhaps, not as often. Ссора is a synonym, but with different connotations -- it is generally more dignified. Friends can be said to have поссорились, for example, without their ссора becoming a склока. Склока is never dignified -- for neither of the sides.

Indeed, склока may be translated as "squabble", while ссора is more like "break-up".

And драка is not even a synonym, for it must involve violence. English "fight" may or may not imply actual violence, but драка always does.

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Not much used in speech: I think currently it is a tword you could sometimes use in a book or a public speech but not on the everyday basis. But yup, definitely a part of native speaker's pssive vocabulary.

Judging by the Russian National Corpus "склока" is a primarily 20 century word, so it is unlikely Tostoy and Dostoevsky used it much in their work — the word existed before but was rarely used until the end of the 19 century.

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  • N. B. ’Russian National Corpus’ is mainly consist of modern (post-1918) texts. So it is not a good tool to do statistical researches in time at all. Aug 7 '14 at 22:19
  • I do not object though, that скло́ка is a word that you would hardly encounter in books of xix century. (+1) Aug 7 '14 at 22:36
  • To be honest, for words like "склока" it is indeed not large enough before 1890. You can only see that the word was rare in the 19th century and that it existed. 3-5 books are not enough to accurately estimate the frequency beyond "quite rare". However they do have 26 million words for 19 century so one can be pretty sure that a word with an average of about 4-5 ipm would get much more results.
    – Shady_arc
    Aug 7 '14 at 22:36
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It is a passive vocabulary word.

Also note that English fight could mean both ссора and драка, but these two are totally different in Russian.

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Adding a reference: Google Books chart

The word was never in a major usage and mostly used in 1920~1950. After 1950 its usage dropped nearly three times and remains at the same level until now.

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