In looking for something else, I happened on the Complete Russian-English Dictionary (NYC, 1919), by A. Aleksandrov, an almost 800-page volume full of obscure words (and with appendices of geographical and personal names) and available for free download from Google Books. It’s not as large as my magnificent 1127-page Dictionnaire russe-français complet (SPb, 1908), by N. P. Makaroff (for which various editions are also available for download, though not, oddly, the 1908), but on the other hand it defines words in English, which is easier for an English-speaker. And the very first word after “А! inter. ah! well!” is not in Makaroff, or any of my more modern dictionaries: “Аангичъ s.m. The winter duck.” (It is in Vasmer, who says to compare Turkish anɣyt ‘black coot,’ while admitting that there are phonetic difficulties.) Anyway, I thought I’d bring it to people’s attention in case there are others who collect fat old dictionaries of Russian.


  1. According to Aleksandr E. Anikin’s new Russian etymological dictionary (still in preparation, but the beginning of the A section, а–абзáц, is available online), Vasmer’s Turkic etymology is incorrect; the word is a borrowing from Itelmen (aʔŋičχ ‘long-tailed duck, Clangula hyemalis‘, apparently of onomatopoeic origin) and should be correctly stressed аáнгич.

  2. Thanks, that’s a much more convincing etymology, and I’m thrilled to know about the Anikin — Vasmer is getting pretty long in the tooth!

  3. Vasmer has only one аба, Anikin has four! But that came out in 2007; surely he’s gotten beyond абзац by now?

  4. Anikin is the author of Этимологический словарь русскиx диалектов Сибири: Заимствования из уральских, алтайских и палеоазиатских языков (2000) and an expert on Siberian borrowings in Russian, so I suppose he knows what he’s talking about. As for the Russian etymological dictionary, he seems to have got as far as вняться (Fascicle 6, published 2013), but I have no access to it.


  5. So does anɣyt come from Itelmen?

    Someone could write a whole book about the anguish of waiting a lifetime for a multi-volume encyclopedic work of perfection. I can think of a number of examples I’ve been lucky to see finished, others which I probably won’t, and others which will never be finished.

  6. Ангир is also found in Mongolian. It’s hard to pin down the referent: in ornithological terminology it’s been applied variously to the Mandarin Duck, the Ruddy Shelduck, and the White-winged Scoter. Анхир is now also applied to the Whistling Duck.

Speak Your Mind