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List of English words of Russian origin


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List of English words of Russian origin

[from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]


Babushka (Russian: ба́бушка IPA [ˈbabuʂkə] (Russian "grandmother") 1. A Russian grandmother 2. A headscarf folded diagonally and tied under the chin

Balalaika (Russian: балала́йка, pronounced [bəlɐˈlajkə]) (Tartar origin) A triangle-shaped guitar-like musical instrument with three strings.

Bistro (possibly from Russian bystro "quickly" via French) A small bar or restaurant.

Cosmonaut (Russian: космонавт (IPA [kəsmɐˈnaft]) A Russian astronaut.

Gulag (Russian: Главное Управление Исправительно—Трудовых Лагерей и колоний) (Russian acronym for Glavnoye Upravleniye Ispravitelno-trudovykh Lagerey i kolonii, The Chief Administration (or Directorate) of Corrective Labour Camps and Colonies.) 1. (historical) In the former Soviet Union, an administered system of corrective labor camps and prisons. 2. (figurative) A coercive institution, or an oppressive environment.

Intelligentsia (Russian: интеллигенция) (from Latin intelligence, intelligentia from inter "between", and legare "to choose") 1. The part of a nation (originally in pre-revolutionary Russia) having aspirations to intellectual activity, a section of society regarded as possessing culture and political initiative; plural the members of this section of a nation or society. 2. In the former Soviet Union, the intellectual elite.

Kazakh (Russian Казак) (Russian, late 16th century, kazak diminutive of cossack, from Turkic meaning "vagabond" or "nomad", name of the ethnicity was transliterated into English from Russian spelling. The self-appellation is "Kazak" or "Qazaq".) 1. Member of a people living chiefly in Kazakhstan. Traditionally nomadic, the Kazakhs are predominantly Sunni Muslims. 2. The Turkic language of these people.

Knout (Russian 'knut' - кнут perhaps from Swedish knutpiska, a kind of whip, or Germanic origin Knute, Dutch Knoet, Anglo-Saxon cnotta, English knot) A whip formerly used as an instrument of punishment in Russia; the punishment inflicted by the knout.

Kopeck (Russian copeck копейка, kopeyka; derives from the Russian kop'yo (копьё) "spear" a reference to the image of a rider with a spear on the coins minted by Moscow after the capture of Novgorod in 1478) A Russian currency, a subunit of Ruble, 100 kopecks is equal to 1 ruble.

Kremlin (Russian: Кремль, IPA: [krʲɛmlʲ]) (Russian for "fortress", "citadel" or "castle") A citadel or fortified enclosure within a Russian town of city, especially the the Kremlin of Moscow; (the Kremlin) Metonym for the government of the former USSR, and to a lesser of extent of Russian post- Soviet government.

Mammoth (Russian мамонт mamont, from Yakut mamont, probably mama, "earth", perhaps from the notion that the animal burrowed in the ground) Any various large, hairy, extinct elephants of the genus Mammuthus, especially the Wooly Mammoth. 2. (adjective) Something of great size.

Matryoshka also Russian nested doll, stacking doll, Babushka doll, or Russian doll (Russian: матрёшка, IPA: [mɐˈtrʲoʂkə]. A set of brightly colored wooden dolls of decreasing sizes placed one inside another. "Matryoshka" is a derivative of the Russian female first name "Matryona", which is traditionally associated with a corpulent, robust, rustic Russian woman.

Molotov Cocktail also petrol bomb, gasoline bomb, Molotov bomb (Named after Vyacheslav Molotov 1890-1986, Soviet politician born Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Skryabin; the term was coined by the Finns in 1940 during their Winter War with the Soviet Union. While dropping bombs on Helsinki, Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov claimed the Soviets were only dropping food and drink to their comrades. The analogy of food and drink with bombs led the Finns to coin the black humorous term Molotov bread basket for an incendiary bomb, and later Molotov cocktail for their improvised gasoline-filled bottle with a slow burning wick that is ignited before it is thrown. The weapon however was first used in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War, and later used by the Chinese against Japan in 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War) Generic name for a variety of improvised incendiary weapons, usually consisting a bottle filled with gasoline, wrapped in a saturated rag or plugged with a wick, then ignited and hurled as a grenade.

Pogrom (from Russian: погром; from "громить" gromit to destroy by violent means) 1. (early 20th century) A riot against Jews. 2. (general) An organized, officially tolerated attack on any community or group. 3. (transitive verb) Massacre or destroy in a pogrom.

Ruble (Rouble) (From Russian rubl, from Old Russian rubli "cut" or "piece", probably originally a piece cut from a silver ingot bar (grivna) from Russian рубить, rubiti meaning "to chop". Historically, "ruble" was a piece of a certain weight chopped off a silver ingot (grivna), hence the name The Russian unit of currency.

Sable (from Russian sobol - соболь, ultimately from Persian samor) A carnivorous mammal of the Mustelidae family native to northern Europe and Asia.

Samovar (Russian: самовар, IPA: [səmɐˈvar] (Russian samo "self" and varit "to boil" hence "self-boil") A Russian tea urn, with an internal heating device to keep the water at boiling point.

Shapka (Russian (шáпкa), from the Russian language word for "hat") A Ushanka.

Sputnik (Russian name: Спутник) (Russian literally "travelling companion" from s with put "way" or "journey" + noun suffix nik person connected with something) 1. (historical) A series of unarmed artificial earth satellites launced by the Soviet Union from 1957 to the early 1960s; especially Sputnik I which on October 4, 1957 became the first man-made object to orbit the earth. 2. (in Bridge) A take-out double of a suit overcall of one's partner's opening bid, in full Sputnik double.

Steppe (Russian: степь - [sʲtʲepʲ], Ukrainian: степ - /stɛp/, Kazakh: дала - /dɑlɑ/), pronounced in English as /stɛp/, (Russian step) Any of the vast level grassy usually treeless plains of South East Europe and Siberia.

Taiga (originally from Mongolian) (Russian: тайга) The swampy, coniferous forests of high northern latitudes, especially referring to that between the tundra and the steppes of Siberia.

Troika (triumvirate) (Russian: тройка) (Russian meaning "threesome" or "triumvirate") 1. (mid 19th century) A Russian vehicle, either a wheeled carriage or a sleigh, drawn by three horses abreast. 2. A Russian folk dance with three people, often one man and two women. 3. (historical) a) In the former Soviet Union, a commission headed by three people; especially NKVD Troika. b) In the former Soviet Union, a group of three powerful Soviet leaders; especially referring to the 1953 Troika of Georgy Malenkov, Lavrentiy Beria, and Vyacheslav Molotov that briefly ruled the Soviet Union after the death of Stalin. 4. A group of three people or things working together, especially in an administrative or managerial capacity.

Ushanka also called a shapka (Russian: ушанка) [uˈʂan.kə] (Russian ushanka literally "ear-flaps hat") A Russian fur cap with ear flaps that can be tied up to the crown of the cap, or tied at the chin to protect the ears from the cold.

Vodka (Russian: водка) (Russian diminutive of voda "water") An alcoholic liquor distilled from fermented wheat mash, but now also made from a mash of rye, corn, or potatoes.

Blintz also blintz, blintze blin Russian: блин blin, блины (pl.) bliny; Ukrainian: млинці, mlyntsi. A thin rolled pancake, similar to a crepe, that usually filled with cottage cheese, then folded and sauteed or baked, and often served with sour cream.



Borshch also Borscht (Russian: борщ) (Russian borshch "cow parsnip", the original base of the soup) A beet soup served hot or cold, usually with sour cream.

Kasha (Russian for "porridge" or "gruel") 1. A porridge made from cooked buckwheat groats or other grains. 2. A beige color resembling buckwheat groats.

Kvass (literally "leaven"; borrowed in the 16th century from Russian квас, sometimes translated into English as bread drink) A fermented mildly alcoholic beverage made from rye flour or bread with malt; rye beer.

Medovukha (Proto-Indo-European meddhe honey) (Russian: медовуха) A Russian honey-based alcoholic beverage similar to mead.

Okroshka (Russian: окрошка) (from Russian "kroshit" (крошить) meaning to chop (into small pieces) A type of Russian cold soup with mixed raw vegetables.

Pelmeni singular pelmen (Russian: пельмен) An eastern European dish of minced meat, especially beef and pork, wrapped in a thin dough and boiled.

Pirogi also perogi, perogy, pirohi, piroghi, pirogi, pirogen, piroshke or pyrohy) (Russian: пироги, plural of пирог pirog, "pie") (from the Proto-Slavic pir "festivity" also Polish pierogi, "little pies") A dough dumpling stuffed with filling such as potato or cheese, typically served with onions or sour cream.

Pirozhki (plural) also piroshki (Russian: пирожки, plural of пирожок pirozhok, diminutive of пирог pirog, "pie") Small Russian pastries or patties, filled with meat or fish and rice.

Sevruga ((Russian late 16th century sevryuga) A caviar from the Sevruga, a type of sturgeon found only in the Caspian and Black Seas.

Shashlik (Russian Шашлык) (from Crimean Turkish sislik from sis "skewer") A type of eastern European and Asian shish kebab with meat (often lamb or beef) that is usually marinated and garnished with herbs and spices.

Shchi (Russian: щи) A type of cabbage soup.

Smetana (Russian smetat to sweep together, collect) A sour cream, frequently in smetana sauce.

Solyanka (Russian and Ukrainian: соля́нка) A type of Russian and Ukrainian thick and spicy soup.

Vareniki (Russian; варе́ник[и]) (from Russian varenyy "boiled thing") A popular Ukrainian dish of square or crescent-shaped dumplings of unleavened dough, stuffed with sauerkraut, cheese, mashed potatoes, cabbage, and meat.

Apparatchik plural apparatchiki (Russian: аппара́тчик) IPA: [ʌpʌˈraʨɪk] (from Russian apparat (name given the Communist Party machine in the former Soviet Union) from Latin apparare to make ready) 1. (middle 20th century) A member of the apparat; a communist agent. 2. (late 20th century) (transferred) An implementer of party or official policy; an executive officer.



Bolshevik (Russian Большеви́к) IPA: [bəlʲʂɨˈvʲik] (from Russian bol'she "majority" or "greater" with reference to the greater faction) 1. (historical) A member of the majority faction of the Russian Social Democratic Party, which was renamed to the Communist Party after seizing power in the October Revolution in 1917. 2. (chiefly derogatory) (in general use) A person with politically subversive or radical views; a revolutionary. 3. (adjective) Relating to or characteristic of Bolsheviks or their views or policies.

Boyar singular boyarin, plural boyare, feminine form boyarinya (Russian: боярин IPA: [bʌ'jærʲɪn]), (Russian boyarom from Old Russian bolijarin from Turkic baylar plurarl of bay rich; akin to Turkish bay rich, gentlemen) (historical) A member of the highest rank of the feudal Bulgarian, Romanian, Russian, and Ukrainian aristocracy, second only to the ruling princes, from the 10th century through the 17th century. Many headed the civil and military administrations in their country. In Russia, their status was abolished by Peter the Great after his reorganization of the government and military.

Commissar (Russian комисса́р) (Russian commissariat reinforced by medieval Latin commissariatus, both from medieval Latin commmissarius "person in charge" from Latin committere "entrust"' term "commissar" first used in 1918) 1. An official of the Communist Party, especially in the former Soviet Union or present day China, responsible for political education and organization; A head of a government department in the former Soviet Union before 1946, when the title was changed to Minister. 2. (figurative) A strict or prescriptive figure of authority.

Duma (Russian: Ду́ма) (from Russian word думать dumat’, "to think" or "to consider") 1. (historical) A pre-19th century advisory municipal councils in Russia, later it referred to any of the four elected legislature bodies established due to popular demand in Russia from 1906 to 1917. 2. The legislative body in the ruling assembly of Russia (and some other republics of the former Soviet Union) established after the fall of coummunism in 1991.

The State Duma (Russian: Государственная дума (Gosudarstvennaya Duma), common abbreviation: Госдума (Gosduma)) in the Russian Federation is the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia (legislature), the upper house being the Federation Council of Russia.



FSB (Russian ФСБ, Федера́льная слу́жба безопа́сности) (Russian trans. Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti Federal Security Service) The domestic state security of the Russian Federation.

Glasnost (Russian: Гла́сность IPA: [ˈglasnəsʲtʲ]; glasnost publicity, openness, from obsolete glas voice, from Old Church Slavonic glasu) (late 20th century) An official policy in the former Soviet Union (especially associated with Mikhail Gorbachev) emphasizing openness with regard to discussion of social problems and shortcomings.

KGB (Russian transliteration of "КГБ") (Russian abbreviation of Комите́т Госуда́рственной Безопа́сности, Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti, Committee for State Security) (historical) Name of the Soviet Union organization that directed the the security agency, secret police, and intelligence agency from 1954 to 1991.

Kolkhoz plural kolkhozy (Russian: колхо́з IPA: [kɐlˈxos]) (1920's origin; Russian contraction of коллекти́вное хозя́йство, kol(lektivnoe) khoz(yaisto) "collective farm") A form of collective farming in the former Soviet Union.

Kulak (Russian: кула́к, kulak, "fist", literally meaning "tight-fisted" from Turkic kol "hand"; Ukrainian: курку́ль, kurkul) Originally a prosperous Russian landed peasant in czarist Russia, later used pejoratively by Communists during the October Revolution as an exploiter; they were severely repressed under the rule of Joseph Stalin in the 1930's.

Krai also Kray (Russian: край) (Slavic for "border") Term for eight of Russia's 85 federal subjects, often translated as territory, province, or region.

Leninism (after Vladimir Lenin, the term was coined in 1918) The political, economic and social principals and practices of the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, especially his theory of government which formed the basis for Soviet communism.

Menshevik (Russian: Меньшевики) (from Russian word меньшинство menshinstvo "minority" from men'she "less"; the name Menshivik was coined by Lenin when the party was (untypically) in the minority for a brief period) (historical) A member of the non-Leninist wing of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party, opposed to the Bolsheviks who defeated them during the Russian Civil War that followed the 1917 Russian Revolution.

Mir (Russian: мир) (from Russian mir, meaning both "world" and "peace") (historical) 1. A peasant farming commune in pre-Revolutionary Russia. 2. A space station program created by the former Soviet Union and continued by Russia until 2001.

NEP or The New Economic Policy (NEP) (Russian: Новая экономическая политика) (Russian Novaya Ekonomicheskaya Politika or НЭП) (historical) An economic policy instituted in 1921 by Lenin to attempt to rebuild industry and especially agriculture. The policy was later reversed by Stalin.

Nomenklatura (Russian: номенклату́ра) (Russian nomenklatura, from the Latin nomenclatura meaning a list of names) (historical) In the former Soviet Union, a list of influential posts in government and industry to be filled by Communist Party appointees; collectively the holders of these posts, the Soviet élite.

Obshchina (Russian: община) (Russian obshchiy common, commune) Russian peasant agrarian communities during Imperialist Russia.

Oblast (Russian: о́бласть) (Russian loanword with no literal translation, although generally translated as "region" or "province") An administrative division or region in Russia and the former Soviet Union, and in some constituent republics of the former Soviet Union.

Perestroika (Russian: Перестройка) (Russian perestroika literally "restructuring", the term was first used in 1986) The reform of the political and economic system of the former Soviet Union, first proposed by Leonid Brezhnev at the 26th Communist Party Congress in 1979, and later actively promoted by Mikhail Gorbachev from 1985.

Politburo (Russian politbyuro from polit(icheskoe) byuro "political bureau") (historical) The principal policymaking committee in the former Soviet Union that was founded in 1917; also known as the Presidium from 1952 to 1966.

Propiska (Russian: пропи́ска) (Russian full term Прописка по месту жительства, "The record of place of residence", from Russian verb propisiat "to write into" in reference to write a passport into a registration book of the given local office) (historical) a regulation in the former Soviet Union designed to control internal population movement by binding a person to his or her permanent place of residence.

SMERSH (Russ: СМЕРть Шпионам) (Russian acronym of (smer) t (sh)pionam literally "death to spies") (historical) The popular name for the Russian counterespionage organization responsible for maintaining security within the Soviet armed and intelligence services; it was originally created during World War II to deal with traitors, deserters, and spies who undermined or threatened the Red Army. It essentially ended in 1946 when its functions were resubordinated to the People's Commissariat of Military Forces (Наркомат Вооруженных Сил, or НКВС.

Soviet (Russian: сове́т) (Russian sovet "council") (historical) 1. A revolutionary council of workers or peasants in Russia before the Russian Revolution 2. An elected local, district, or national council in the former Soviet Union 3. (Soviet) A citizen in the former Soviet Union. 4. (adjective) of or concerning the former Soviet Union.

Sovkhoz plural Sovkhozes (Russian: Совхоз) (Russian Советское хозяйство, (Sov) eckoje (khoz)yaistvo, "soviet farm") 1. (historical) A state owned farm in the former Soviet Union. 2. A state owned farm in countries of the former Soviet Union.

Stalinism (Russian, the term Stalinism was first used in 1927; the term was not used by Stalin himself, as he considered himself a Marxist-Leninist) 1. (historical) The political, economic, and social principles and policies associated with Joseph Stalin during his rule (1924-1953) of the Soviet Union; especially the theory and practice of communism developed by Stalin which included rigid authoritarianism, widespread use of terror, and often emphasis on Russian nationalism. 2. Any rigid centralized authoritarian form of government or rule.

Streltsy singular strelitz, plural strelitzes or strelitzi (Russian: Стрельцы) (Russian strelets "bowman") (historical) Units of armed guardsmen created by Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century and later abolished by Peter the Great.

Tsar also Czar, Tzar, Csar, and Zar (Russian: царь) (English pronunciation [zar]; Russian pronunciation is [ʦarʲ]) (Russian tsar from Latin Caesar "hairy") 1. (historical) Title of a Southern Slav ruler as in Bulgaria (913-1018, 1185-1422, and 1908-1946) and Serbia (1346-1371). 2. (historical) Title for the emperor of Russia from about 1547 to 1917, although the term after 1721 officially only referred to the Russian emperor's sovereignty over formerly independent states. 3. (latter part of 20th century) A person with great authority or power in a particular area, e.g. drug czar (spelled only as "czar" in this usage).

Tsarina also tsaritsa (formerly spelled czaritsa), czarina, German zarin, French tsarine (Russian: цари́ца) (Russian, etymology from tsar) (historical) The wife of a tsar; also the title for the Empress of Russia.

Tsarevna also czarevna (Russian, etymology from tsar) (historical) 1. The daughter of a tsar. 2. The wife of a tsarevitch.

Tsarevich also tsesarevich, czarevich, tzarevitch (Russian, early 18th century, from tsar + patronymic -evich]]) (historical) The eldest son of an emperor of Russia; the male heir to a tsar.

Kalashnikov Alternative name for the AK-47 assault rifle (AK-47 short for Russian: Автомат Калашникова образца 1947 года, Avtomat Kalashnikova obraztsa 1947 goda Automatic Kalashnikov rifle, invented by Soviet soldier and small arms designer Mikhail Kalashnikov and first adopted in 1947; the term "kalashnikov" was not used until 1970) An type of rifle or sub-machine gun of Soviet Union and used in most Eastern bloc countries during the Cold War. The term later became associated with nationalist, guerrilla and terrorist groups who use it exclusively or extensively.

ITAR-TASS formerly known as TASS; (Russian: ИТАР-ТАСС, Информационно Телеграфное Агентство России - Телеграфное Агентство Советского Союза) (ITAR, Russian abbreviation for Information Telegraph Agency of Russia; and TASS, an abbreviation for Telegrafnoe Agentstvo Sovetskogo Soyuza Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union) 1. The official state news agency in the former Soviet Union created in 1918 after the merger of the Petrograd Telegraph Agency (PTA) and the Russian Telegraph Agency (ROSTA); it was named TASS in 1925. 2. The main news agency of the Russian Federation; it was renamed ITAR-TASS in 1992.

Luna also called Lunik, Lunnik (from Russian luna meaning "Moon") A series of robotic spacecraft missions sent to the Moon by the Soviet Union between 1959 and 1976.

Marshrutka (Russian: маршру́тка, IPA: [mɘr'ʂrutkɘ]) (Russian from marshrutnoye taxi, Russian Mаршрутное такси, literally "routed taxicab") A share taxi used in the CIS and Bulgaria.

Soyuz (Cyrillic: "Союз") (Russian for "Union") 1. A space program of the Russian Federation that originally began in the former Soviet Union in the 1960's. 2. The series of spacecraft used in the Soyuz programme. 3. The expendable launch system used for the Soyuz spacecraft.

Vostok (Russian: Восто́к, translated as "East") (historical) 1. A Soviet Union human spaceflight program that lauchned a series of manned flights from 1961-1963, which included putting person into Earth orbit for the first time. The program was succeeded by the Voskhod programme. 2. The name of the spacecraft used during the Vostok programme.

Banya (Russian: баня) A traditional Russian steam bath.

Dacha (Russian: да́ча) (Russian originally 'gift' or 'something given' (especially from a ruler) A country house or cottage in Russia.

GUM (Russian: ГУМ, pronounced as goom, in full Главный Универсальный Магазин, Glavnyi Universalnyi Magazin acronyn for Main Universal Store) A common name for the main department store in many cities of the former Soviet Union and some post-Soviet states; especially referring to the GUM facing Red Square in Moscow.


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