Is there a kind of thesaurus that teaches words based on kinship? An example will make clear to you what I have in mind:

суд - судья́, суди́ть, ...
коне́ц - наконе́ц, зака́нчивать/зако́нчить, конча́ть/ко́нчить, ...

Or a Latin example:

rex - regere, regio, rectio, directio, ...

Got it? Take a simple base lexeme or "atom of meaning" and then list the words stemming from that atom that are among the most commonly used 10,000 or so.

It's not like WordNet, which is a semantic organization, not a lexico-etymological one.

This would be useful for learning native Russian words that are mostly unfamiliar to learners from non-Slavic-language-speaking countries. The purpose would be to learn more quickly and efficiently by benefiting from word similarity and etymology.

To give an example, it's much easier to learn words such as рассле́дование (investigation (cf. Latin vestigium = trace)) or слеже́ние (tracing, persecution) if you know they derive from the word след, which simply means trace.

So is there such a thesaurus, with a URL? Or an established name for such an organizational structure of a thesaurus?

  • Do you mean "Словообразовательный словарь"? Like this one pomogala.ru/lib/slovoobrazovatelny_slovar.rar
    – Matt
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 19:37
  • Here's an online version (not sure it's the same dictionary): old.kpfu.ru/infres/slovar1/begall.htm Commented Apr 26, 2015 at 8:34
  • Thank you both. Yes, this is precisely the organizational principle I had in mind. So the word is словообразование, Wortbildung in German, word building or word formation in English. The pointers you provided are useful. Even more useful for the newbie to Russian would be a thesaurus of just the so and so many thousand most important words using that organizational principle.
    – Lumi
    Commented Apr 26, 2015 at 9:50

5 Answers 5


Russian Derivational Dictionary | RAND

  • I downloaded one of the PDF files. Not much of a use for a learner. No translations. And no one needs the complete list of all possible derivatives. The essential root words, the stems, are important. The combinations can be picked up when encountered in text or speech. These lists are a machine product that does not address the way humans need to learn.
    – Lumi
    Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 15:24

I've found precisely the book I've been looking for:

George Z. Patrick, Roots of the Russian Language. An Elementary Guide to Wordbuilding, New York, 1938 (republished various times in following decades)

Excerpt from the foreword:

Based on the supposition that familiarity and practice with the com- ponent elements of Russian words will facilitate student comprehension and learning, Roots of the Russian Language includes four hundred and fifty of the most commonly used roots of the Russian language in a convenient, reference format. Mastery of these roots should enable students to form many more derivatives, increasing their Russian vocab- ularies, as well as enhancing their enjoyment and satisfaction in learning the Russian language.

These roots are what I was looking for. Most words are derived from roots and are more easily memorized when seen in context of the root and fellow derivatives.

More info in the reviews on Amazon.com.


This may be of some interest to you. Each of these examples consists of the one and only word, and the rest is a mix of forms derived from that word and prepositions.

С through Я

Натисни не стесняясь на притесняемых, стиснутых в тисках тесноты. 
Утешала в утехах — тише!
В толкучке толкового толкнули в толкотне.
Треснула и затрещала с треском трещотка.
Трудно трудиться не утруждаясь трудом.
За тягу тянули тяжело, но не тужили.
Узник в узкой вязнице завязывал узел.
В схватке хваткий захватом похитил хищника.
Холод охладит прохладой.
Ходок на восходе расходовал приход и оприходовал расход.
Процветающая цветочница с цветом от зацветшего цветка. 
Поцелуй исцеляет при целовании.
У оценщика драгоценности с уценкой обесценились.
В черновике зачеркнутое черными чернилами почернело.
Чертежник начертился до чёртиков в чертежной.
Чиновник по причине подчинения чинит зачинщикам причины для сочинений.
Чистый расчищает до чистоты.
Предчувствие чувствовалось в сочувствии.
Соучастие — к части участи для участвовавших.
У чудака чудовище чудно отчуждалось на чужбине.
Беспощадный щедро пощадил.
Явившийся с заявлением объявил явью явно отъявленным.
Яснее ясного, пояснение выяснять у поясняющего.   

A native speaker will have little to no difficulty making a new example. It didn't take me long to make up my examples, max. 2-3 min on each.

I'm not sure if this is something special for other languages. But I strongly believe that morphism plays a key role in Russian.

  • Nice! :) I will have to think up few of those as well.
    – InitK
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 18:57
  • Thank you. This kind of list is probably interesting, or funny, once you know the language. (I can make up such lists in German, where words are built in a manner very similar to Russian.) A newbie to the language, however, needs additional information: (a) accents on the words; (b) meaning and function of the words; (c) meaning of the root; (d) straight examples, rather than spirited ones; (e) vowel and consonant variations on root words; and probably more. The book by George Z. Patrick offers all that and more in a concise manner. Perfect for newbies. Спасибо nonetheless.
    – Lumi
    Commented May 3, 2015 at 18:24

A thesaurus would be too hard to learn :)

I think it'd be better to learn word parts: prefix, root, suffix, ending;
http://udarenieru.ru/index.php?word=on - then click [MOC]
and speak more)

суд - судья́, суди́ть, ...
same root words:
root: суд;
suffix: -и-, ...;
infinitive end: -ть, ...;
noun ending: -(ь)я, ...;

коне́ц - наконе́ц, зака́нчивать/зако́нчить, конча́ть/ко́нчить, ...
root: кон(ч,ец);
prefix: на-, за-, о-, при-, об-, ...;
suffix: -и-, -а-, -ива-, -ик- (кончик), ...;
verb ending: -ть, ...;
noun: -ние, ...;

  • Thanks. This lexico-analytical tool is not without its uses. On the other hand, when learning, you quickly acquire the ability to discern prefixes and suffixes because they occur so frequently. The real interest is in learning the root words since that is where the semantic meat is. All covered in the book by George Patrick I pointed to in my answer. Mere formal analysis is for vegetarians ;)
    – Lumi
    Commented Jun 15, 2015 at 14:09

There are two big thesauruses for the Russian language:

  1. "Russian Thesaurus" by O.S. Baranov (100,000 words and expressions in 7,800 articles)


It's a bit too scientific and not as easy to use as Roget's Thesaurus for English.

  1. RuThes (45,000 notions, 107,000 words and expressions, 177,000 relationships).


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