Questions tagged [этимология]

The history and the origin of words and phrases.

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Origin of “стоять над душой”

Фразеологический словарь русского литературного языка says, that "стоять над душой" means "мешать, надоедать своим долгим присутствием". I'm not quite sure what "над душой" (above one's soul?) means ...
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радиус-вектор vs. вектор-строка

Yesterday I came across the term радиус-вектор in physics, which surprised me because the order of the two parts is reversed by comparison with the terms вектор-строка and вектор-столбец in linear ...
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1answer
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What is the meaning and origin of “The grand piano in the bushes”?

There is a saying "The grand piano in the bushes" ("рояль в кустах"). What does it mean precisely, how to correctly use it in speech, and what is its origin?
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654 views

Why does the word “мужчина” decline like a feminine noun?

In all languages with genders I know the word for man is masculine, and the word for women is feminine. While this is still technically true for the word мужчина, it is the only Russian masculine word ...
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1answer
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Why “подруга”, not “друга”

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 ...
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3answers
855 views

Can someone tell whether this Russian swear word derives from German?

Лох is a word that I heard among Russians and Ukrainians who never visited Germany. So it’s not quite clear whether the German language is the origin. Can anyone shed any light on the origin of this ...
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1answer
589 views

What's the origin of saying: “Ну ты молоток!”?

Basically the title. I have just had a discussion with some of my friends and we could not come up with the origin of this saying. The best we could come up with was that it sounded closer to "...
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Is “тройбан” derived from “ебан тремя”?

"Тройбан" is a slang word for "три" (a ruder version of 'three'). There is also a word "трояк" (less rude and more common). The affix "як" can be attached to ...
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1answer
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Origin of прятки (Russian word for “Hide and Seek” game)

Does прятки, the Russian word for the game hide and seek, come from пяток (five), пятка (heel), or something else? My guess is пяток, because of counting from 1 to 5.
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The origin of “за двумя зайцами погонишься”

За двумя зайцами погонишься, ни одного не поймаешь. We have the same proverb, 二兎を追う者は一兎も得ず, which is considered borrowed from somewhere, so I am curious whether we borrowed it from the Russians or ...
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Why are cows (коровы) called “крупный рогатый скот” so frequently?

Why cows/bulls rarely called so, especially in official documents, but the term КРС (Крупный рогатый скот, lit. "large horned cattle") is used instead? Other farming animals are called simpler. ...
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1answer
919 views

Корень слова «Заседание» и связь со словом «Сидеть»

Никак не могу разобраться от какого слова происходит «Заседание». Еще есть «Председатель», у которого тот же корень. Вроде бы само мероприятие подразумевает что некоторый круг лиц будет что-то ...
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898 views

What is the etymology of восемь and девять?

What is the etymology of восемь and девять?
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733 views

Why do Russians refer to money as grannies (бабки)?

I read the following in a poem published in 1769: Два въ бабки мальчика играли: За бабки заорали: Къ войнѣ за бабки собрались, И подрались. These lines initially made no sense to me, but then I ...
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390 views

Откуда суффикс -л у существительных: “страшило”, “чернила”, “пряло” и т.п

В русском языке есть ряд существительных, образованных от глаголов, с суффиксом -л. Какова причина использования этого суффикса? Ведь в современном русском языке это суффикс глагола прошедшего ...
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363 views

Вероятность and вера

In Czech language, the word "вероятность" sounds like "pravděpodobnost" [правдеподобность], and means "it is truthlike" (подобно правде). This made me look to Russian word - вероятность. Does it ...
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1answer
2k views

Origin of the Russian word for water “voda”

The most of sources I encountered (Vasmer, Mellory-Adams etc) assert the Russian word "voda" "вода" originates from the same PIE root as English word "water", i.e. from the PIE form u̯odr. This is ...
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479 views

How did 'ликвиди́ровать' semantically shift to mean 'abolish' and 'destroy, kill'?

I was reading the etymology of the English 'liquidate', when I read on Wiktionary that The sense "to kill, do away with" is a semantic loan from Russian ликвиди́ровать (likvidírovatʹ), ultimately ...
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Думпкар и самосвал

Чуковский в книге "Живой как жизнь" перечисляет заимствованные слова и возникшие русские эквиваленты, например "голкипер" и "вратарь". Впервые в этом списке встретил слово "думпкар" аналогом которого ...
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Значение слова кощун в средние века

Современные словари определяют слово кощун как "насмешник, богохульник". Однако в "Материалах для словаря древнерусского языка" Срезневского напротив слов кощуна, коштяна, коштюна написано "μύθος, ...
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663 views

The exact origin of шёл

I'm aware of шёл's derivation from Proto-Slavic *xьdlъ, related to ходить, but that form still seems irregular — given that вёл, which has the exact same relation to водить, had e rather than ь in the ...
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Этимология выражения “хернёй страдать”

На другом форуме кто-то поделился следующим инсторическим толи анекдотом толи былью: В XIX веке военнообязанные, но достаточно обеспеченные мещане косили от армии следующим образом: покупали у ...
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котов and Петров

This is a follow up to this question. Here is a Daniil Kharms short story: ПЕТРОВ И КАМАРОВ ПЕТРОВ: Эй, Камаров! Давай ловить комаров! КАМАРОВ: Нет, я к этому еще не готов. ...
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The original word for a wild boar

I recently accidentally discovered that the Russians call wild boars by a word borrowed from Turkic languages - "кабан." The etymological dictionary by Preobrazhensky clearly states: Заимств. из ...
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“Красная” Площадь

It seems to be relatively common knowledge that the name "Красная Площадь," while translated in English as "Red Square," does not actually mean "Red Square" in Russian, but rather "Beautiful Square." ...
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383 views

Etymology of болельщик

I had difficulties in finding a translation of болельщик, and it seems to mean (sports) fan, supporter. Does this word come from a transliteration as бол of the English word ball ?
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629 views

What are the meaning and etymology of “выпендриваться”?

I am very much puzzled by the frequently used Russian verb выпендриваться and cannot understand it. Dictionaries and Reverso Context give a variety of translations, but I feel that none of them hits ...
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2answers
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Правда ли что слово “блядь” происходит от польского “błąd”?

В недавнем вопросе о правильности написания слова "блядь" в комментариях разгорелась дискуссия по поводу этимологии этого слова. Были высказаны две версии заимствования. Например, что само это слово ...
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Can “чита” mean “monkey”?

A Russian friend of mine claims that the word "чита" can mean "small monkey". She thinks that it might be a colloquialism, but she cannot recall its etymology. I believe she has been using it since ...
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428 views

Why are “охотиться” and “рыться” with “ся”?

My understanding of the concept of возвратный глагол is simple: учить себя (to teach oneself) → учиться (to learn) готовить себя (to prepare oneself) → готовиться (to get prepared) ложить себя (to ...
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276 views

Is нет ever a contraction of не and есть?

My book on Russian claims that in phrases like здесь нет телефо́на the нет is a contraction of не and есть . Is this etymologically true? (I realize that it is translated as such, but this is not ...
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334 views

“Качели” vs. “качель”

While reading Osip Mandelshtam, I came across the word качель in singular. Я качался в далеком саду На простой деревянной качели, И высокие темные ели Вспоминаю в туманном бреду. ...
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351 views

Vowel in “раст\рос” stem: how did it happen that they are different?

The following words have the same stem: рост росток рослый растение расти возрасти возросший возраст I think that they have the same stem because their meaning is related and they ...
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613 views

Etymology of the phrase “Пряничные ворота”

I understand the phrase as metaphoric gates you want to enter but cannot: Б. Гребенщиков, "Дуй": Сколько ни стучись у этих пряничных ворот... I cannot find an origin of the phrase
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Впервые or впервыя (in old orthography)?

In pre-1918 Russian orhography, female and neuter adjectives in pl. nom. had endings -iя, -ыя: новыя вещи, голубыя озёра, but новые наряды, голубые киты. Pluralia tantum require some etymologic ...
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What is the etymology of берлога?

I am wondering why the shelter of медведь is берлога.
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Etymology of “стрелка”

When dictating stories on his deathbed some 50 years ago, my great grandfather passed along to my great aunt the idea—which he got from his grandfather, a West Prussian émigré—that our last name, ...
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Спутники естественные и искусственные

Есть ли сведения о том, когда впервые было использовано слово спутник для обозначения естественных (Луна - спутник Земли), либо искусственных спутников (вывести спутник на орбиту)? Разыскивая ...
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244 views

Раз, два и обчёлся

I was just wondering what would be the origin of the verb обчёлся? Does it have something to do with закончил считать? I don't think we use other forms of this verb, but in this idiom. How old is this ...
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1answer
266 views

The etimology of the “-дцать” postfix?

For numbers between 10 and 40 Russians use дцать. What is дцать? A very Russian way to say десять? A word made of multiple parts, each of which do have a meaning, like дца and ть, as in еха-ть? (I ...
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755 views

Как перевести “price match”?

Price-match, frankly, appears to almost be a single word in English, however, it is surprisingly missing from the dictionary, and translate tools don't seem to do the justice, either. http://www....
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Происхождение и значение современного употребления “погнали”

Хотел бы сверить с обществом собственные социокультурные соображения по поводу выражения погнали в значении начали. Откуда оно есть пошло? Пример употребления глагола "погнать" в значении "начать что-...
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351 views

What is the origin of “бо”

I'm curious about the word/ending "бо". For example in the word, ибо, which is basically и + бо with бо meaning потому что, так как итд, а ещё слово "либо" имеет это окончание, но что оно значит? This ...
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243 views

Why Яковлев/Яковлевич with the intrusive -л-?

As the title says, why are the surname and patronymic formed from Яков Яковлев and Яковлевич instead of *Яковов and *Яковович? Where did this -л- come from? Is it simply because Яковлев(ич) is more ...
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378 views

“Битком набиты” — was “биток” actually a noun at some time?

Did биток always only exist in the context of the idiom "битком набиты", or was it a "perfectly valid noun in its own right" at some point in the past?
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1answer
380 views

When “кде” became “где”?

When in history of Russian language "кде" became "где"?
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847 views

Почему Нью-Йорк (New York) по-русски пишется через дефис?

A follow-up question from How do you translate FreeBSD into Russian?, what is the rule that makes New York have a hyphen when written in proper Russian?
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215 views

Deriving “kamenite” from Russian камень + Greek -ίτης

I am quite new to Russian and would like feedback on both what I've done correctly and where I am mistaken. For use in a fantasy writing project, I would like to plausibly derive “kamenite” as an ...
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3answers
534 views

Why was the Russian letter X called “хѣръ”?

The official name of the letter X in the old Russian alphabet was хѣръ, which is how modern Russians call a dick. The names of most other letters of the old Russian alphabet are understandable: азъ (...
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385 views

Etymology of the name “Modest” (Модест)

"Modest" is a common Russian name, most famously known as the name of the composer Mussorgsky. Does the etymology of this name have any relationship to the English/Latin etymology of the word?