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I wonder are there any other cases when prefix по- indicates feminine gender? I can recall some nouns with по- prefix, like постель or повесть, but this words have roots that are also feminine.

On the other hand, there are plenty of words with по- prefix which are masculine, for example, поручик.

So, how come друг's feminine form is подруга, can someone shed light on the etymology of this form?

  • постель и повесть are a completely differnt case. постель is based on the verb постелить, where по makes it the perfect form of the imprerfect verb стелить. повесть is based on повествование. – Ark-kun Feb 5 '14 at 16:01
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Подруга is a derivative of подружиться, compare полюбовница, побратим etc.

This prefix is not productive for forming feminine in Russian so this is just an ad hoc form.

CS for this word would be другиня and I believe Old Russian had a similar form. In modern Ukrainian it means "wife" (дружина in modern form), so most probably подруга replaced the old form to separate the meanings.

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    In current Ukrainian the word for wife is дружина. – Dima Sep 25 '12 at 21:25
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    @Dima: yes, the language changes with time. – Quassnoi Sep 26 '12 at 8:07
  • @Quassnoi, are you sure that другиня is not relatively new form, kind of XVIII century neologism, build by analogy, as богиня or героиня. I've found that it has been used by Vasily Trediakovsky, who is known as a great appreciator of neologisms. – shabunc Sep 26 '12 at 8:52
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    @shabunc: it's mentioned, for instance, in 1581's Ostrog Bible (Luke 15:9): и обрѣтши съзываетъ другынѧ и съсѣды глаголющи: радуитесѧ со мною, яко обрѣтохъ драхъму погибшую – Quassnoi Sep 26 '12 at 10:31
  • @shabunc: BTW, Sreznevsky mentions the Old Russian form друга in a XVI text. – Quassnoi Sep 26 '12 at 10:33

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