A reader writes:

I came across a word in Wikipedia that seems to be hapax legomenon. It was on a page for Tarkhuna, a Georgian tarragon flavored soft drink. “Mitrofan Lagidze began to add odorous chukhpuch containing extract of Caucasian tarragon to sparkling water with natural syrups of his own production.” Google seems to send me back to the same text about Tarkhuna. The Russian version of the page has it as “чухпуч”. Curious if you or any of your readers would be keen of chasing down this mystery.

I thought I could clear it up with a little googling — though it’s not as easy as you might think, since Georgian has two different ch’s (ჩ, ჭ) and two different p’s (პ, ფ) — but no, all I got was translations of the same Wikipedia sentence. Georgian Wikipedia does not have an article on Tarkhuna, but they have one on Lagidze (properly Laghidze)… but it doesn’t refer to any chukhpuch. I checked my biggest Georgian dictionary, but no luck. So I’m giving up and turning to the assembled multitudes: any ideas? (Thanks, Andy!)


  1. Stu Clayton says

    Georgian tarragon flavored soft drink

    Georgian tarragon must be very unlike any tarragon I know. I love it in cooking, just like asafoetida, but a sweet soft drink with either in it sounds revolting.

    Maybe vladimir is meant, not estragon.

  2. Wild guess: is it a Turkic word?

    (The /x/ argues against it, but still. Persian?)

  3. Maybe vladimir is meant, not estragon.

    We’ll have to wait for გოდო to come along and resolve it.

  4. The edit that introduced “chukhpuch” to the Wikipedia page was June 2021 and added by someone who mostly contributes to articles about Russia.

    It was added to the Russian Wikipedia article in March 2017 in a series of edits by a different user. The phrase in Russian is “чухпуч несущий“.

  5. David Eddyshaw says

    It makes a great insult, anyway: “You odorous chukhpuch!”

  6. Stu Clayton says

    We’ll have to wait for გოდო to come along and resolve it.

    Now I’m confused. The first thing I find for გოდო in the ‘net is a lamb of that name.

  7. Is it here?

  8. Stu Clayton says

    Ah, I get it now. Sambuel Beckett ! (Phonetically, the /l/ went the same way as the /b/ in “lamb”. They’re both zero, is that right?)

  9. Maybe it should be understood as misspelled Bulgarian for “I heard a putsch.” (чух пуч) 🙂

  10. Ха!

  11. Sambuel Beckett !

    Actually, Semiuel Beketi, author of the world-renowned გოდოს მოლოდინში.

  12. There is a separate Wikipedia article which makes me surmise that “tarkhuna” is just tarragon as one flavour among many. Perhaps “chukhpuch” is some syrup constituent common to all Lagidze water rather than specific to the tarragon variety.

  13. Perhaps so, but it’s very odd that it doesn’t exist other than here! Unless, of course, “chukhpuch” is a mistake for some other word.

  14. “Odorous chukhpuch” seems like an autotranslation of “aromatic (extract? essence?)” in some language.

  15. tarkhuna is what my grandmother makes with dried yoghurt. It’s dried flakes.

  16. @V, I think people understand tarkhuna to be the spice tarragon/estragon which is sold as flat dried leaves. I think it’s the chukhpuch which people don’t understand. Or are you saying that chukhpuch is dried flakes?

  17. I don’t think V was answering the question, just providing a family anecdote.

  18. @languagehat yes, I was. I’m not an expert, but that usually refers to dried fermented milk. Or it might be unrelated etymologically. I did just want to share a family anecdote.

  19. I looked for all of these in Google Translate to no avail: ჩუხფუჩ, ჩუხფუჭ, ჩუხპუჩ, ჩუხპუჭ, ჭუხფუჩ, ჭუხფუჭ, ჭუხპუჩ, ჭუხპუჭ

  20. I think I figured it out – chukhpuch seems to be the name for the local variety of tarragon grown in Georgia.

    “Tarragon first appeared as a drink in Georgia. It was created by M. Logidze, a pharmacist from Tiflis, who prepared recipes for refreshing drinks based on sparkling water and homemade syrups. So in 1887, an extract of a local variety of tarragon herb, chukhpuch, was added to ordinary lemonade. The successful discovery of the pharmacist made it possible to combine the refreshing properties of the drink with the benefits of Caucasian tarragon.”

  21. Speaking of yogurt, Armenian matsun / Georgian matsoni (or is it the other way around??) has caused a dispute and threatens to “sour relations” between the nations.

    (A current events–related aside: I ran into the yogurt story after perusing this intentionally disturbing piece of Russian political theater.)

  22. @e-k : that seems interesting, thanks. The drink seems to require honey and lemons, and is a kind of lemonade? EDIT: That seems to be a recipe for lemonade? EDIT2: Yeah, you already said that, but with a local variety of tarragon, sorry 🙂

    I’m really sorry, I missed your whole point that it is a kind lemonade made with Georgian tarragon.

  23. The Georgian National Academy of Science has a Department of Language, Literature and Arts, the Scientific Secretary of which is Liana Dumbadze, whose email address is posted on the Academy’s website (

  24. a sweet soft drink with either in it sounds revolting

    Tarkhuna (Georgian: ტარხუნა, Georgian pronunciation: [tʼɑrχunɑ]) (also Tarhun) is a Georgian[1] carbonated soft drink that is flavoured with tarragon or woodruff. It was first created in the Kutais Governorate of the Russian Empire in 1887, by a young Georgian pharmacist named Mitrofan Lagidze in the city of Kutaisi. Mitrofan Lagidze began to add odorous chukhpuch containing extract of Caucasian tarragon to sparkling water with natural syrups of his own production. Before the First World War, Lagidze repeatedly received gold medals at international exhibitions for his water. In 1927, the Soviet authorities built a plant for the production of “Lagidze water” in Tbilisi, and Lagidze himself was appointed director.

  25. Úr hverju eru Tarragon límonaði?

    Tarhun kom fyrst fram sem drykkur í Georgíu. Það var búið til af M. Logidze, lyfjafræðingi frá Tiflis, sem bjó til uppskriftir fyrir hressandi drykki byggða á freyðivatni og heimabakaðri sírópi. Svo árið 1887 var útdrætti af staðbundnu afbrigði af dragongrasi, chuhpuch, bætt við venjulegt sítrónuvatn. Árangursrík uppgötvun lyfjafræðingsins gerði það mögulegt að sameina hressandi eiginleika drykkjarins og ávinninginn af hvítum tarragon.

    No Icelandic word for chuhpuch?

  26. juha : Du e för fin för mig.

  27. I’m not an expert, but that usually refers to dried fermented milk. Or it might be unrelated etymologically.

    The dried fermented mixture of grain and yoghurt or sour milk is called in Persian ترخوانه tarkhâne and ترخینه tarkhine, Turkish and Azeri tarhana, Armenian թարխանայ (թարխանա) tʿarxana, Greek τραχανάς, Bulgarian трахана, etc. The name is apparently a compound of Persianتر tar ‘moist, wet’ and خوان khân ‘tray, table, meal setting’ (and thus by extension in Ottoman also ‘victuals’), but perhaps there is more to be discovered here. References to a foodstuff by this name do not go back earlier than the 14th century in Turkish and Persian, which is odd because such a method of stocking food must be much older. Packets of instant tarhana soup are sold in every Turkish supermarket, but you can go to the bazaar and buy it from the farmers in big lumps out of a sack—which is much better.

    The name is not etymologically related to the family of English tarragon, French estragon, Medieval Latin tragonia, tarchon, altarcon, Georgian ტარხუნა tʼarxuna, Byzantine Greek ταρχών, etc., which are all ultimately from Arabic طرخون ṭarḫūn ‘tarragon’, itself apparently somehow (via Syriac?) ultimately from Greek δράκων ‘dragon’, doubtless in reference to a fancied dragonlike appearance of the plant with its long, pointed leaves.

    I like tarragon soda and tarragon lemonade!

  28. Lars Mathiesen says

    So Georgian dragon or woodruff — in Berlin they put woodruff in their beer (Waldmeister) and I have some snaps I made with it, it’s quite pleasant. And I can see how it’s not all that different from the non-Georgian tarragon we have here.

  29. Turkish and Azeri tarhana



    Circa 1600, from Ottoman Turkish ترخانه‎ (tarhâna), from Persian ترخانه‎ (tarxâne, “tarhana”), from تر (tar, “wet”) + خوان‎ (khwān, “food, tablecloth, dining table”). The modern Turkish spelling is tarhana.

    IPA(key): [ˈtɒrɦoɲɒ]
    Hyphenation: tar‧ho‧nya
    Rhymes: -ɲɒ


    tarhonya (plural tarhonyák)

    1. a traditional Hungarian egg-based pasta grain

  30. The voluminous and comprehensive Rayfield Georgian–English dictionary doesn’t have anything plausible for this under either ჩუ- or ჭუ-. The explanatory Georgian dictionary Y links above didn’t have any of the combinations I tried (ჩ/ჭ for ch, ქ/ხ/ყ for kh, პ/ფ for p), and googling them, the few Georgian results all look like automated translations from Russian. So if it’s from a Georgian word, it’s either extremely rare, or the transliterations into Russian and English are a bit unusual.

    But none of the Russian sources found so far seem terribly old or solid either! The Fermilon article is unsourced (and contains various typos, e.g. Логидзе for the inventor instead of Лагидзе); the Russian Wikipedia article gives the Lagidze company website’s history page as its source, but I can’t find чухпуч there. All other instances Google finds seem to be auto-scraped copy-pastes of either the Fermilon or Wikipedia, except for a couple of “fun fact” posts on Facebook/Insta, which also post-date Fermilon/Wiki and look like human-written paraphrases of them.

    So nothing seems to go back further than Fermilon. Could that instance be a typo or garbling of some better-established word, or a nonstandard spelling of a word the author knew orally?

  31. Might the word in question belong to a Kartvelian language other than Georgian?

  32. Someone might ask this Ukrainian tweeter

  33. David Marjanović says

    this intentionally disturbing piece of Russian political theater

    That was publicly broadcast? “Hi! I’m a mafia boss! What are you going to do about it?”

  34. January First-of-May says

    Georgian tarragon must be very unlike any tarragon I know. I love it in cooking, just like asafoetida, but a sweet soft drink with either in it sounds revolting.

    Maybe vladimir is meant, not estragon.

    The article for tarragon/estragon on English Wikipedia mentions a “Russian tarragon”, A[rtemisia] dracunculoides, which is apparently a much milder variant than tarragon proper. The Georgian version might be similar.

    I don’t know a lot about tarragon. Tarkhun is a popular (and tasty) soft drink but I’ve no idea if it’s still made with actual tarragon.
    I can’t recall having ever heard of a herb called “vladimir”; it’s probably a pun of some kind that I’m not getting.

  35. Waiting for Godot is a play by Samuel Beckett in which two characters, Vladimir (Didi) and Estragon (Gogo), engage in a variety of discussions and encounters while awaiting the titular Godot, who never arrives.

  36. David Eddyshaw says

    who never arrives


  37. David Eddyshaw says

    There is always the Abridged Version:

    Act I.
    Scene I.

    Enter GODOT.


  38. From Artemisia; An Essential Guide from The Herb Society of America

    Artemisia dracunculus (tarragon) includes French tarragon (syn. A. dracunculus var. sativa or ‘Sativa’), Russian tarragon (syn. A. dracunculus var. dracunculoides or A. dracunculus var. inodora), as well as wild tarragon (syn. A. dracunculus var. glauca). …

    French tarragon does not produce viable seeds. … French tarragon is propagated by root cuttings or divisions in the spring or stem cuttings later in the season

    The primary use of the distinct anise flavor of French tarragon is culinary. …

    A sugary tarragon concentrate is used in a popular carbonated soft drink called Tarhun in Armenia [sic] and parts of Russia. Tarragon is also used as a spice in a sweet cake in Slovenia…

    Russian tarragon is a hardier, coarse vigorous plant that grows from seed. It grows up to 5 feet tall with longer narrower leaves than the French tarragon. It is less aromatic and lacks the flavor of French tarragon.

    Wild tarragon is a coarse erect deciduous perennial weed. It grows to 5 feet tall and spreads by rhizomes that make the plant difficult to control.

    Some google translation from a Georgian horticulture site:

    ქვეყანაში ტარხუნის ჯიშები …

    ხოლო დობრნია უფრო შესაფერისია გამაგრილებელი სასმელების დასამზადებლად.

    Tarragon varieties in the country …

    Dobrnia [sic] is more suitable for making soft drinks

    ტარხუნის დობრინიას მთელი მეტრი სიგრძის აქვს სამკურნალო თვისებები. ბალახს შეიცავს კაროტინი, კვალი ელემენტები, ვიტამინები და ასკორბინის მჟავა. ტარხუნ დობრინას გამორჩეული თვისებაა წინააღმდეგობა ცივ და სიცხესთან, აგრეთვე ერთ საიტზე 10 წელზე მეტი ხნის განმავლობაში ზრდის უნარი

    Tarragon Dobrinia whole meter long has healing properties. The herb contains carotene, trace elements, vitamins and ascorbic acid. A distinctive feature of Tarragon Dobrina is its resistance to cold and heat, as well as its ability to grow for more than 10 years on a single site

    maybe “chukhpuch” is the rustic name for the “Dobrinia” cultivar or its antecedent?

  39. Dmitry Pruss says

    So the Armenian trace didn’t lead anywhere?

  40. maybe “chukhpuch” is the rustic name for the “Dobrinia” cultivar or its antecedent?

    From the context it might not be the name of a plant but a word for “extract” or such.

  41. But then it should be in the dictionary. I’m leaning toward the theory that “chukhpuch” is an error for some other word, which you’d probably have to be a Georgian to figure out.

  42. We need a Kurdish speaker, but I feel like I’m in the right ballpark here:

    “şax” /ʃax/ appears to be “branch” (as in tree and other contexts meaning division)

    “pûş” /puːʃ/ appears to be “hay/grass”

    “şaxê pûş” is probably something like “hay branch”, if I understand how the constructive works in Kurdish, which suggests the original term is probably nothing more than “leaf-” or “branch-” (extract) lost in translation from some Kurdish-like language.

  43. Xerîb would probably have said something if it were anything like Kurdish, Turkish, or Persian, or I don’t know what else…

  44. @Y : I think matsun / matsoni is just Armenian / Georgian for Sour Milk (as in Bulgarian) / Yoghurt?

  45. For me, I think of Woodruff much more as a surname than an actual herb. This is due primarily to the fact that I went to school with a thin-skinned jerk* by that name. This seems to have given the name exactly the vibe the author Pat Conroy wanted in The Prince of Tides—which features a villain named “Herbert Woodruff,” an effete violinist who is opposed to all sports and flaunts his infidelities in front of his wife. (Of course, Conroy could only expect most of his readers to get the vibe from the name’s weak sound.)

    Another Woodruff of note was the African-American painter Hale Woodruff. He is probably best known for his murals, although I don’t particularly care for them. He was heavily influenced by Diego Rivera—in the way he created political murals, but also in the specific style he used for the murals. I think that’s rather unfortunate, since most of his non-mural paintings had a rather different style, which is quite a bit more appealing, while the murals look very plainly like mediocre imitations of Rivera’s work.

    * When I got in contact with him more recently, I found he had mellowed into a pretty cool guy. He apologized for getting physically threatening once in high school (not that I felt threatened) after I accidentally kicked his lunch sack out of his hand. I was coming up from visiting my locker to get my own bag lunch. (Freshmen lockers were located along the school’s single basement hallway, called “the pit.”) However, I tripped while ascending the steps and stumbled up onto the next landing, with my legs flailing. As I passed him by, one foot managed a perfectly aimed kick at the bag Greg Woodruff was carrying, knocking the contents of his lunch all over the landing. I apologized, offered to help him pick everything up, but he refused to accept that it had been an accident. The last point was probably not helped by the fact that my not-quite-girlfriend had doubled over in laughter after seeing it all happen.

  46. Lars Mathiesen says

    The Danish name for woofruff is skovmærke — which is transparently wood-“mærke,” where the latter is of unknown origin and has been used for five different plants (including celery), but it looks like it is the cognate of “mark”. But cognate with MLG merk and OE mer(e)ce, it says. And I’ve never seen it used as a surname.

  47. David Marjanović says

    five different plants (including celery)

    Let me guess: carrot?

  48. Lars Mathiesen says

    No carrots.

    Apium graveolens
    Sium sp.
    Batrachium sceleratum
    Peucedanum palustre
    Asperula odorata

    All L. Celery-leaved buttercup, water parsley, marsh hog’s fennel — I spy a pattern, but woodruff/bukkar is not much like the others that I can see.

  49. Woodruff is also the surname of the fourth president of the LDS Church, Wilford Woodruff, who ended polygamy by the Manifesto of 1890 (though it took years to die out).

    Woodruff was from Farmington, CT, and his Woodruff ancestors go back to Yorkshire via London. My ancestry entangles with his in the late 1600s.

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