Questions tagged [этимология]

The history and the origin of words and phrases.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
33
votes
8answers
4k views

Why doesn't Russian have native words beginning with А?

I've heard that Russian has no native words beginning with the letter A. The claim is that the words appearing under A in dictionaries were all imported at some stage or another. Browsing through the ...
27
votes
9answers
17k views

Why do Russians call their women expensive (“дорогая”)?

My question is in the title of this post, and I do not know what else to say. I am just puzzled. Okay, to avoid my post being put on hold for being too succinct, I will add a couple of naive thoughts ...
27
votes
4answers
8k views

Why do Russians call some women a dynamo (динамо)?

In English, you call a person a dynamo to say that he or she is extremely energetic (e.g., she was a dynamo in London politics), but Russians mean something entirely different when they call someone a ...
26
votes
3answers
1k views

Are there words that can be spelled with both т and ф?

Some words of Greek descent use ф as corresponding to the Greek θ, while some use т. The former I think tend to be loaned earlier. However, in "Brothers Karamazov" I have found Mitya using the word "...
25
votes
4answers
1k views

Как бы звучало по-русски название медведя *r̥ḱs-os/*r̥ḱt-os, доживи оно до наших дней?

Как известно, слово "медведь" это слово-заменитель табуированного "истинного" имени зверя. Похоже что такие замены происходили неоднократно - старое "истинное" имя забывалось и табу переходило на ...
22
votes
5answers
3k views

How come the Russian cognate for the Czech word “čerstvý” (fresh) means entirely the opposite thing (stale)?

In Russian, черствый хлеб (chorstvy khleb) is stale bread. And to my great surprise, I recently learned that in Czech, čerstvý chléb is precisely the opposite thing: fresh bread. My question is: ...
22
votes
6answers
14k views

The history and meaning of “ни фига себе”

I understand how the expression is used pretty well, but wonder where did it come from? What exactly does фиг mean?
21
votes
5answers
17k views

Racist language in Russia/USA

I really hope this question doesn't get deleted or flagged, so to make sure it doesn't I will try to keep it as academic as possible. I am currently an American student studying in Saint Petersburg ...
21
votes
6answers
8k views

Why do Russians call a joke a stake (прикол)?

In modern Russian, прикол is a very frequently used word and means a joke, a funny incident, or just anything funny, but the original meaning of this word is very different: a stake to which a ship, a ...
18
votes
7answers
6k views

Why “пить таблетки”?

"Пить таблетки" (literally "drink pills") is a commonly used phrase. But why is it "пить" ("drink")? Naturally, pills are solid and thus can't be "drunk" in a traditional sense. There is phrase "...
17
votes
1answer
5k views

Кофий и кофе - что от чего произошло? Is the кофе derived from кофий or vice versa?

Артемий Лебедев в своем "ководстве" пишет: Мужской род бедному напитку достался от устаревших форм «кофий» или «кофей». У Корнея Чуковского в книге "Живой как жизнь" сказано: Русский язык ...
16
votes
7answers
3k views

Russian words for magic. Etymology, usage and connotations

Something that I realised early on when learning Russian were the different words Russians would use where an English speaker would just say magic: The first word I came into contact with was ...
16
votes
3answers
639 views

Why do verbs in past tense—and not other parts of speech—have gender?

In Russian, verbs in the past have gender information attached to them, so that “я спросил” implies that the asker was male, whereas “я спросила” comes from a female. Why no other tenses have this ...
16
votes
1answer
530 views

Special treatment for plural forms depending on number of objects - where does it originate from?

This has puzzled me for a long time. In Russian, we count objects in a weird way: Один камень Два камня Три камня Четыре камня Пять камней ... Двадцать камней Двадцать один камень Then, the pattern ...
16
votes
2answers
612 views

Etymology/Origin of “Грузия”

In many languages, the name of the country Georgia is derived from the name of St.George. In Georgian, Georgia is called საქართველო(Sakartvelo), so obviously Грузия has nothing to do with it either. ...
16
votes
2answers
546 views

Do “русый” and “русский” have a common root?

Does the name of the hair color русый come from the name of the people/land?
15
votes
3answers
672 views

Почему Евклид, а не Эвклид?

Why is Евклид spelled with Е in Russian? All the other words and names with Greek origin starting with E that I can think of are spelled with Э in Russian. Эратосфен, эвтаназия, эвристика ...
15
votes
4answers
481 views

Addressing taxi/bus driver by “шеф”/“командир” - where does it come from?

While using buses and marshrutkas as a means to reach point B from point A, I often hear drivers being addressed as "шеф" or "командир", as in: Командир, возьми за проезд! or Шеф, до вокзала ...
14
votes
1answer
1k views

Как возникло слово “прошивка” в смысле firmware (программа в телефоне, читалке, другом гаджете)?

В обсуждении вопроса о переводе firmware на русский язык мнения о слове "прошивка" разделились. Кто-то утверждают что это слэнг, другие утверждают что это уже литературное слово. Но у меня возник ...
14
votes
6answers
1k views

Origin of Да будет свет! - сказал электрик и перерезал провода

What is the origin of the expression Да будет свет! - сказал электрик и перерезал провода.?
14
votes
2answers
4k views

Put noodles onto somebody's ears?

I've been asked to explain why people say вешать лапшу на уши for uncovering lies and expressing distrust. Where does it come from?
13
votes
3answers
6k views

Before 1957, what word or phrase was used for satellites (natural and artificial)?

In 1957, Sputnik was launched. The word "sputnik" can be used for satellites in Russian or English. Before 1957, was "sputnik" used that way? Did Russians have a different word or ...
13
votes
2answers
706 views

Are the Russian “рыжий” and French “rouge” (red) related? / Как связаны русское «рыжий» и французское «rouge»?

While I since had learned that linguistics works in much more mysterious ways than simply “if words sounds alike, or also mean similar things, they must be related”, for a long time I presumed that ...
13
votes
2answers
493 views

Etymology of “Есть!” (military command)

Can it be explained how the phrase Есть! came to be used in the military when someone accepts an order?
13
votes
1answer
480 views

Why some Russian interrogatives start with к- and others - with ч-?

Many Russian interrogatives start with к-: кто? кому? куда? кем? как? который? где? (<кде?) когда? On the other hand, some interrogatives start with ч-. They seems to be case variants of "что?": ...
13
votes
1answer
4k views

Почему одежда из хлопка называется хлопчатобумажной?

Почему одежда из хлопка называется хлопчатобумажной? При чем здесь бумага? Upd: В Национальном Корпусе Русского Языка фраза бумажный платок со значением «платок из ткани» упоминается 18 раз. ...
13
votes
1answer
1k views

Origin of “cемь пятниц на неделе”

What is the origin/etymology of phrase Семь пятниц на неделе (literally, seven Fridays in a week)? I am not interested in the meaning of it (I know what it means), but rather where it came from. I ...
12
votes
3answers
552 views

Difference between “нация” and “народ”

Given that народ is connected to род, and has to do with birth, and нация derives from the Latin natus, past participle of nasci (being born), is there any difference between the two terms? I have ...
12
votes
3answers
422 views

Where do the following words come from: лето, весна, осень, зима?

I am interested in knowing the etymology of names of the seasons in Russian: лето, весна, осень, зима. UPDATE: And especially the original meaning of the proto-words that gave birth to these words.
12
votes
1answer
2k views

Origin of expression “Ёлки-палки”

In a booklet of elementary readings for foreigners I came across the expression Ёлки-палки. This seems to translate as "damn" but the relation of that meaning to the literal meaning of the words ...
12
votes
5answers
4k views

Почему говорят “вострить лыжи”? Why the “skis” are being “sharpened”?

Впервые я встретил это выражение в сказке Шарля Перро "Синяя Борода": Он узнал братьев своей жены - один служил в драгунах, другой в конных егерях, - и тотчас навострил лыжи; но братья нагнали его,...
12
votes
1answer
275 views

Defining autochthonous etymology of Russian lexems

Judging by several etymological discussions erupting around this site, people have vastly different ideas about what constitutes “native” Russian word. For me, borrowing (whether it be recent (last ...
11
votes
1answer
365 views

Why “Гиппократ” but “ипподром”?

Both these words have Greek origin, specifically: Гиппократ (Hippocrates) comes from ίππος (horse) + κρατώ (I hold) = The one who holds the horses. Ипподром (horse-race track) comes from ίππος (...
11
votes
1answer
273 views

Are платье and платок connected? Did платье initially mean a square piece of cloth?

Are платье (platie) and платок (platok) connected? Did платье initially mean a square piece of cloth? I know that the both words ultimately derive from the same PIE root meaning "flat" (from which ...
11
votes
4answers
798 views

Etymology of “Пошел в Баню!”

Given the meaning of the phrase ranging from benign "Go away" to the rude "Пошел на ..." I am curious of the origins of this form?
11
votes
4answers
2k views

Why does the phraseme “души не чаять” have positive meaning?

OK, this question has been asked many-many times on the internet, and yet I can't google any reliable and constructive answer with a bit of documented proof. How come the meaning of this phrase - "...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

Этимология слова «аист» / etymology of “аист” (stork)

Считается, что в русском языке нет исконных слов, начинающихся на букву «А». Как объяснить этимологию слова «аист», явно отличающуюся от лексем в родственных языках? бел. бусел укр. лелека русин. ...
11
votes
3answers
797 views

“Скатертью дорога” - was it ever a positive thing after all?

There is a well known phrase "скатертью дорога" which is sort of caustic version of "good riddance". There's also a common knowledge that this phrase initially meant something ...
11
votes
1answer
480 views

Etymology of “ежу понятно”

Откуда пошло выражение "ежу понятно"?
11
votes
2answers
14k views

“Война войной, а обед по расписанию”

Откуда пошло выражение (поговорка)? Война войной, а обед по расписанию
11
votes
1answer
351 views

Do the words дорогой (expensive) and дорога (road) have a common origin?

When learning a new language, I'm always looking for similarities between word roots - this helps me in remembering them. When learning Russian, I was surprised by the similarity of the words дорогой (...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

Origin of name “Kamchatka”

I am seeking the etyomology of the name of the peninsula, Kamchatka. The only explanation I have found is in the old book "A shooting trip to Kamchatka", which suggests that it comes from a term ...
10
votes
2answers
718 views

Russianization of Ancient Greek personal names

Can anyone shed some light onto the process by which (masculine) personal names of the Ancient Greek world were Russianized? With some notable exceptions (Homer, Aristotle, Hadrian, et al.), English ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the origin of “на обиженных воду возят”?

I've been always wondering what are the origins of this expression? I searched through the net and found few discussions on this issue: Link 1: http://lingvoforum.net/index.php?topic=4111.0 Link 2: ...
10
votes
2answers
960 views

Are there any Russian words, which changed the meaning through the intermediary language?

Are there any words which have started with one meaning, then got incorporated into another language while changing the meaning and then got reimported back with a different meaning?
10
votes
1answer
558 views

The origin of ни пуха ни пера - к чёрту

Why do we say ни пуха ни пера wishing someone good luck? The traditional response is also interesting. People are expected to say к чёрту. What is the origin of the idiom?
10
votes
1answer
1k views

Этимология слова «Глюк»

Как образовалось слово «глюк»? Различные источники утверждают, что оно произошло от слова «галлюцинация», но без дальнейших объяснений, а они так друг на друга не похожи
10
votes
4answers
989 views

Etymology of “С дуба рухнуть”

The expression С дуба рухнуть means: crack up, go nuts. For example: Ты что, с дуба рухнул? Have you lost it? What is the etymology of this expression?
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Etymology of “переборщить”

What is the origin of "переборщить"? I really do doubt it has something in common with Russian soup борщ. Another hypothesis was that it is somehow related to "перебор" in this meaning: Derived ...
9
votes
6answers
1k views

Question about spelling “чьё/чья/чьи”

As far as I understand, "ч" is always soft. The letter "ь" usually denotes that the preceding letter is soft. These two facts together seem to imply that the combination "чь" (just like "щь") would/...

1
2 3 4 5