National nicknames

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About 1500 different peoples live on our planet, which have their own individual names that distinguish them from each other. They are, of course, not mentioned in international treaties and other important documents.

Each of these nicknames, sometimes mockingly humorous, sometimes caustically offensive, has its own history and its own destiny. Some of them are known only to historians, while others, on the contrary, exist to this day.

Some nicknames even became the official names of peoples in the languages ​​in which they arose. It all depends on the historical situation that contributed to their appearance, and further relations between peoples.

Where did the barbarians come from?

The emergence of the first national nicknames dates back to ancient times. Even the ancient Greeks, and later the Romans, used the word "barbarians" in relation to the peoples around them. It called peoples belonging to different ethnic groups and speaking different languages: Slavs, Germans, Celts and many others. For Greece and Rome, with their developed culture, these peoples looked very backward. And their language was incomprehensible.

It seemed to the Greeks and Romans that, communicating with each other, they utter some strange sounds - "bar-var". Hence the nickname, which has existed for many centuries. Later this word lost its original meaning and became a household word. Now it denotes a rude, ignorant person who destroys what is created by the labor of others, regardless of his nationality.

Who are the fryags?

National nicknames arose in Russia as well. In the second half of the 15th century, on the initiative of Grand Duke Ivan III, many foreigners came to the Russian state, mainly from southern Europe, mainly from Italy. They were architects, engineers, gunsmiths and other craftsmen. Here the Italians received the nickname "fryagi", "fryazi" or "fryaziny".

This word was borrowed with some distortion from the Serbian language, where it meant "Latins", that is, Catholics. Accordingly, any item of Italian import was designated by the word "fryazhsky". In official documents of that time, the nickname "Fryazin" was added to the names of Italian masters, with which many of them went down in history.

How did the Germans become Germans?

Saying the words "German", "German", we do not even think about their origin. And it has its own interesting history, also dating back to the Middle Ages. In addition to the Italians, who received their nickname, people from other European countries also came to visit us. They were diplomats, traders and masters of various professions. Naturally, immediately upon arrival, none of them knew Russian and could not communicate with the local population without an interpreter.

Having met a foreigner on the street and asked him a question, the Russian did not receive any answer from him. So the opinion appeared that all foreigners are dumb and cannot speak. Therefore, they called them Germans. Moreover, this concept included not only the inhabitants of Germany, but also the Dutch, the British and many others. Gradually, this word began to denote precisely the Germans, and it was established in the Russian language as a generally accepted norm.

Bosches, Fritz and Hans

Nicknames also appeared at a later time. Especially "got" the same Germans, whom other nations often gave contemptuous nicknames. In the 19th century, Prussia - the largest German state - often waged wars with its neighbors. France was one of the main targets of her aggression. Angry Frenchmen have come up with a nickname for their opponents. They scornfully called them boshes.

This word was used in the XX century, especially during the two world wars unleashed by Germany. During the First World War, Russia also had to face the Germans in a military confrontation. And in the Russian language, it was not slow to appear another nickname for them - the Fritzes. This word comes from one of the common names in Germany, which can be either independent or a diminutive from the name of Frederick.

This nickname of the Germans became especially popular in 1941, when Germany again attacked the Soviet Union. There was another nickname at this time - Hans, also derived from a common German name. However, now these nicknames, not very pleasant for the German people, are already a thing of the past, and our countries have been maintaining friendly relations for many years.

Chub against a beard

Anything can be the basis for the appearance of national nicknames. Some features of the appearance of people can also become a reason. The most famous is a kind of "exchange" of nicknames between two fraternal Slavic peoples - Russian and Ukrainian.

At one time, the Zaporozhye Cossacks shaved their heads baldly, leaving a forelock in front, which the Russians called "crest". The bearers of this hairstyle themselves also began to be called crests, and from them the nickname passed to all Ukrainians in general. Of course, they did not remain in debt and also came up with a nickname for the Russians, associated with their appearance.

Unlike Ukrainians, Russians wore beards, which gave the first reason to call them katsaps. In Ukrainian, the word "tsap" means a goat, which, as you know, has a "beard". The Ukrainian phrase “yak tsap” literally meant “like a goat”. Later it was transformed into the well-known word "katsap". Both of these nicknames have long become comic, and people who have a sense of humor do not take offense at them.

There is another nickname for Russians in Ukraine, which has a more negative connotation - Muscovites. Naturally, it comes from the name of the capital of Russia. Initially, this was the nickname for officials who, after the unification of Ukraine with the Russian state, came there to establish a new order. Then this nickname began to be called all Russians. It is in this meaning, and extremely dismissive, that it still exists in the west of Ukraine.

Potatoes, pasta and frogs

Finally, some nicknames came from the characteristics of a particular national cuisine. It is known that one of the favorite national dishes in Italy is pasta. "Good" neighbors immediately responded to this fact, calling the Italians pasta. However, this does not prevent residents of all countries of the world from visiting numerous Italian restaurants and eating spaghetti with pleasure.

The French did not remain without a nickname, in whose national cuisine some types of frogs are used. They began to be called frogs. True, the French themselves do not like this nickname. Moreover, in French cuisine, there are also enough other dishes from a variety of products.

With regard to the nickname, the Belarusians were the luckiest. In their cuisine there is a lot of various and delicious potato dishes, which are rich in the Belarusian land. In Belarusian, potatoes are called "bulba". So their neighbors - Russians and Ukrainians - called the Belarusians Bulbash. However, the Belarusian people are not at all offended by such a nickname. Cheerful, good-natured and hospitable Bulbash has long become something of an unofficial symbol of Belarus.

In russian language

Abrek is a Chechen, Dagestani, in a broad sense, a representative of any male people of the North Caucasus. Among the Caucasians themselves there is an outcast mountaineer.

Azer, Iizer is Azerbaijani.

Azeri is also one of the self-names of Azerbaijanis, probably derived from the name of the extinct Indo-European language of the north-western subgroup of Iranian languages, which existed in the territory of South Iranian Azerbaijan presumably up to the 17th century.

Americos, Amer, Pindos (this word originally meant the Greeks) - American.

Ara is Armenian (does not wear an offensive connotation).

Afro-ass, Afromazy, Afro-ass - Negro. It emerged as a sharply negative reaction to the politically correct "African American".

An Afro-Russian is a Negro living in Russia.

Baibak is a nickname for Karelians or residents of Karelia as a whole. It has a contemptuous connotation, hints at the negative qualities inherent in the steppe marmot - laziness, stupidity.

Basurman (busurman, busarman, basurmanin, busarmanin) - in the old days in Russia: Tatar, a person of a different religion, mainly from the East. Initially, the nickname has a religious meaning: "Basurman" is obviously a distorted "Muslim" - that is, a non-believer.

Biralyukas (bralukas) are Lithuanians. Origin from "brolis" - "brother", "brolyukas" - "brother".

Bulbash (from white. Bulba - "potato") - Belarusian.

Hans is German.

Guran - is usually used in relation to the descendants of mixed marriages of Russians and Buryats in Transbaikalia, as well as to the Transbaikal Cossacks. It comes from the name of the male roe deer, which is one of the main game animals in Transbaikalia. Gurans in Transbaikalia have a special "bratskish" (semi-Mongoloid) appearance, thick black hair, wide cheekbones and dark skin, and they also speak a special, Transbaikalian dialect of the Russian language.

Jew is a Jew.

Beast, animal (came out of the thieves' jargon) is a contemptuous nickname for visitors mainly from the Caucasus or Central Asia, less often from the North Caucasus.

Labuses (Hans) are Latvians. Comes from the Lithuanian greeting "labas", "laba diena" - "good afternoon"

Lyakh (obsolete) - Pole.

The frog is French.

Lopari is a Sami.

Myrk, the Moor is a derogatory nickname for uncultured, uncouth, rude people in Kyrgyzstan. Synonym - "cattle". The nickname is used by the population living in the capital of Kyrgyzstan - Bishkek in relation to the villagers.

The macaroni is Italian.

Mambet is a formerly widespread male name derived from the word “Makhambet” in the Kazakh pronunciation of the word “Muhammad”. It is used by both non-Kazakhs and urban Kazakhs in relation to rural Kazakhs or recent immigrants from the village. A priori, a Kazakh who speaks Russian poorly is considered a mambet in Kazakhstan.

Muscovites are Russians (obsolete).

Nerus - is used scornfully in relation to anyone who is not Russian.

Nigga - borrowed from the US offensive name black.

Pindos (sometimes "pendos") - approximately from the 19th century in the Russian Empire, as well as now in the south of Russia and Ukraine, as well as in Kazakhstan - the Greeks. However, it is now increasingly used in relation to Americans.

Psheki (pshek) - Poles. It arose from the “hissing” character of the Polish speech.

Rusaks, Rusapets, Russopiat - the outdated self-name of Russians.

Samoyeds (obsolete) - Nenets.

Seldyuk is a Siberian nickname, roughly the same as chaldon.

Fritz is the name of the Germans. Origin - abbreviated form of the name "Frederick"

Tunguses (obsolete) - Evenks.

Narrow-eyed is a disrespectful nickname for Mongoloids (Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese, etc.).

Khach, Khachik - Armenian (in recent years, any immigrant from the North Caucasus and from the Transcaucasian countries has been mistaken).

Chaplashka is a Tatar (approx. In Tatarstan).

Chah (s) (obsolete) - Czech.

Black-asses (from hair color or dark skin) - absolute brunettes, people from the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East. It is a kind of backronym for the American Wog, which also refers to people from the Middle East, Southern Europe and the Balkans: Italians, Moroccans, Latinos, Macedonians, Greeks or Spaniards. The nickname, originally referring to blacks, is now mainly passed on to black-haired or dark-skinned foreigners.


The first meaning (from hair color or dark skin) is a derogatory designation, predominantly by the Russian population, of the representatives of the Transcaucasus, Central Asia and the Middle East. In Russia, this term has a different meaning in contrast to the United States, that is, people are meant not literally "black", but "dark-haired", brunettes, people of their Caucasian type, but still with a slightly darker skin than that of northern Europeans. This nickname is used to designate Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Tajiks, Moldovans, etc.

The second meaning (by skin color) is the same as African Americans, Negroes, Blacks belonging to the Negroid race.

Ukrainians are Ukrainians (from the Cossack custom of wearing a forelock).

Cheldons, chaldons - the old name of the Don Cossacks who remained to live in Siberia after its development. Cheldon is a man from Don. It was used among Russian Siberians in relation to other Russian Siberians, with an emphasis on the stupidity and "valenkishness" of a person. At present, the use of the word even in Siberia is rare, found mainly among the older generation.

Black-faced (by skin color) - representatives of the Negroid race, Negroes, the designation "black" is also common.

Czech (derivative, army slang) is a Chechen, predominantly a Chechen fighter.

Chocks, chumps, chureks, chebureks, babakhans, rhinos, chuchmeks, saxauls are a contemptuous designation of representatives of the peoples of Central Asia. This word penetrated into colloquial speech from the criminal jargon, apparently from the Turkic.

Chukhonets, Chukhon, Chukhna is a disrespectful nickname, used mainly by the Russian population in relation to the Ingermanland Finns, later to the Finns of Finland and other representatives of the Finno-Ugric peoples. Chukhna, Chushka - Finland.

The Hellenes are Greeks.

Yankees are Americans.

In other languages

Ami is a nickname for Americans by the Germans (simplification / abbreviation).

Aleman - letters. "German" (Spanish) - in Cuba, all white Europeans.

Ak-kulak, ash-kulokh (literally white-eared) is an insulting nickname for the Slavs in Central Asia, an analogue of the Russian "black-asses".

Bosches are Germans. Borrowed from the French language, the lexicon of the First World War, and got into Russian.

Bosha is the nickname of the gypsies among the Armenians.

Burla (burlak) is an offensive nickname for Russians in Central Asia.

Vessey - residents of the Federal Republic of Germany (before the unification of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic). Comes from the German Westdeutschland - West Germany.

Gaijin (from gaikokujin - foreigner) is a disrespectful nickname for non-Japanese people in Japan.

Goy - (word from the Torah) means a non-Jew. Used in both derogatory and neutral meanings.

Gringos are foreigners, most often Caucasians, often Americans (in Latin America and Mexico).

John Bull is an Englishman.

Kafir - all non-Muslims (identical to the Jewish goy, Russian infidel, impious, infidel).

Latinos is a nickname for Latin Americans in the United States, and the word has also passed into Russian.

Nazari (Arabic literal "Nazarene") - Christians among the southern Arabs.

Ora - treatment among men among themselves among Abkhazians.

Rusaki is the collective name for the Russian-speaking population in Germany.

Rushpans - Ukrainian. "Russians".

Sarybas, sarybash (literally "yellow-headed") - an insulting nickname for Europeans in Central Asia, used in the sense of "coward", "muddlehead", "fool".

Shoshka (chuchka) is a derogatory nickname for the Slavs (mainly Russians) in Central Asia, literally “pigs” is sometimes used in the sense of “pig-like”, “pig-eaters”, “pig people”.

Ivans are Russians (among the Germans and not only).

Kalbit - in the regions of Russia bordering on Kazakhstan, contemptuously - Kazakh.

Kizdym is Kazakh.

The Katsap are Russians. A contemptuous national nickname given to Russian Ukrainian nationalists. According to Ushakov's dictionary (1935-1940) - "the designation of Russian as opposed to Ukrainian in the mouths of Ukrainian nationalists, which arose on the basis of national enmity (Damned Katsapi eat cabbage soup even with cockroaches. N. V. Gogol)".

Cockney is a resident of the working class neighborhoods of London. In English, where it comes from, it is not offensive.

Xenos is a word used by the indigenous population of Greece in relation to foreigners, foreign speaking people, emigrants, migrants and to all those who are alien to Greek culture. The word is used in both derogatory and neutral meanings. Xenophobia is a cognate word for dislike of outsiders. A word similar in meaning in use in the Russian language is - nerus.

Laowai is the colloquial Chinese designation for any foreigner of European origin.

Laomaozi (maozi) is a colloquial designation by the Chinese for Russians.

Muscovites are Russians, more often they come from Moscow.

Ossi are residents of the GDR (before the unification of the FRG and the GDR) and the eastern part of today's Germany. Comes from the German Ostdeutschland - East Germany.

Pakis is a contemptuous nickname for the Pakistani people in the UK.

Persil is a contemptuous nickname for an Azeri or Turk in Turkmenistan.

Pifke is a nickname that the inhabitants of Austria and especially Vienna call the inhabitants of a part of Germany, at present it is mainly called tourists from Germany. In Germany itself, this nickname is used as a playful designation for a braggart or imaginary.

Raska is a contemptuous name for Russians (in the broad sense of all citizens from the former USSR) among Americans.

Rusya - Russians among the Finns.

Sart is a word used by the Karakalpaks, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and Turkmen to people of Uzbek nationality, most often this word is perceived as humiliating and abusive.

Tibla is an insulting nickname for Russian speakers in Estonia.

Farang is a Thai word that originally meant French. Not offensive. In Thailand and Cambodia, farang (barang) refers to any foreigner of European descent.

Habibi - that's how Americans scornfully call Arabs.

Shuravi - Originally designation for Soviet soldiers in Afghanistan. At the moment, the neutral designation for all Russians in Arab countries.

Yakhudiy is a vernacular designation by the Uzbeks of the person of the Jewish religion, used both in derogatory and neutral meanings.

POM (Pommy) is a playful nickname for the British people in Australia, New Zealand and sometimes South Africa.

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