The Soviet Union endured for over seventy years and I know lots of Russian words were borrowed into the languages of the Soviet Republics around Russia during this time.

But are there some words borrowed into Russian from the various Baltic, Caucasian and Central Asian Soviet Republics which are still very commonly used in Russia today?

  • 1
    I'm torn. It's an interesting question, but it's super broad. Anyway, here's a funny titbit: the Russian word for "shed" (сарай) comes from Turkish, where it means "palace".
    – kotekzot
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 8:31
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    @xyzman does it really matter if they couldn't be recognized as such without a dictionary (regardless of the validity of that assertion)? The site is, at least in part, dedicated to the finer points of language, not just what you'd hear on the street.
    – kotekzot
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 8:33
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    @hippietrail, most of the words borrowed from russian language during soviet era were borrowed with new concepts. Russian language was influenced by languages of neighbouring folks during language formation. And there are plenty of russian words of turkic, persian, baltic origin borrowed way before the Soviet era. Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 8:38
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    I wonder why you fixate on the Soviet Republics. Russia initially was and still is a multi-ethnic country with a lot of different languages. On the lands of Muscovy, a significant part of the local population spoke Baltic and Finno-Ugric languages. The Golden Horde invaders spoke Turkic. All these factors largely influenced the development of the modern Russian language. That's why there is even such an opinion that Russian isn't a pure Slavic language. Though I don't agree with this, there is something in it.
    – thorn
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 9:57
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    Oh, looks like 'to fixate' is more offensive in English than its Russian cognate (фиксироваться). Sorry.
    – thorn
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 10:29

2 Answers 2


Let me speak from my heart try to split your question in two.
If you want to find out russian words borrowed from the native languages of people of former Soviet Union then wiktionary has a category for this: Слова по происхождению (Words by origin). For example subcategory of words of turkic origin:

Also, thorn already gave a couple examples of Georgian words.

The second part is about republics.

All of the examples above are the results of a long-term influence of neighbouring turkic folks in VII-XIII centuries, but it's nearly impossible to tell exactly how much are they related to the modern republics of former Soviet Union. Words are borrowed from languages, not officially loaned from foreign countries %)

Usually loanwords came with the corresponding concepts. Soviet Union was founded less than a century ago. When the Soviet Union was established most of the "common" words were already present in the native languages. AFAIK, most of the words borrowed from russian language during the soviet era were neologisms, at least from the point of view of the borrowing language. The same goes for russian words borrowed during Soviet period.

There are proper names for territory-specific types of food (хачапури, манты, бигус, плов, шаурма, люля-кебаб, бешбармак), musical terminology (домбра, домра, кобыз, дутар, акын), geographic and ethnic names (абхаз, аул, аил, кишлак), etc. I believe that there are plenty of russian native-speakers who understand what does these words mean. But I also believe that most of them understand what are the origins of the word.

Comments to your update: *IMHO*
Common words:
- кочерга (poker) - etimology is unclear. Wiktionary links to Acharian's deduction to Armenian. But Vasmer's etymological dictionary derives it from Ukrainian/Polish or Turkic (thanks to thorn for remark)
- козинаки (gozinaki)
- ишак (donkey)
- бархан (barchan)
- мечеть (mosque) - both turkmen and russian words were originated from arabic مسجد (mæsdʒɪd)
- кинза (coriander)

I would separate well known proper names:
- Айвазовский (artist)
- Петросян - Comedian Yevgeniy Petrosyan, is sometimes used as a common name for not very funny comedian last years (mostly on the web). Generally Петросян is a quite popular Armenian last name. Consider, for example chess champion Tigran Petrosyan.
- аджика, боржоми, сацебели, сациви, харчо, чахохбили, чача - food and drinks
- драм, лари, лат, лит, манат, сомони, тенге - currencies
- Ингушетия, Осетия, Севан, Сочи, Тбилиси, Цхинвал, Цхинвали - toponims
- абрек, хач , хачик - ethnically specific terms (some of them are offensive)


Found an interesting list of Georgian words in Russian on Russian Wikipedia. I'd say the most common of them are тамада and козинаки. I didn't even know that they are Georgian.

  • Ah yes "tamada" is very very Georgian and I didn't know it was used in Russian at all. In the case of "gozinaki" I was pretty sure I was told by somebody here that they thought it was a Russian word. Interesting! (-: Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 10:56
  • That list is actually surprisingly short and has a decisive gastronomical bend (apart from words popularized by the film Mimino and geographical names).
    – kotekzot
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 11:05
  • The list of Turkic words integrated into Russian on the other hand is quite diverse and extensive.
    – kotekzot
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 11:08

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