Russia and Prussia: related etymologically, or just a coincidence?

I’ve always wondered if the names “Russia” and “Prussia” had any relationship to each other, or if it was just a coincidence that two countries close to each other had such similar names.

Anyone know?

It’s just in the translation to English. The etymological root of Prussia is “Prusa”. The name “Rus” was applied to an ancient slavic people. The roots are distinctly different but somehow they become very similar in the translation to English.

does “Prusa” have any meaning other than a regional name?

I don’t know about “Prusa”, but the root of most place names is, I believe, either “here”, “there”, “us”, or “them”.

For instance, your country might by “us”, then you conquer “them”, and make “them” speak your language so they start calling themselves “them”. Then they have a revolution and kick you out, so their new country ends up being called by your word for “them” and your country is called “us” by theirs.

Any examples? All of the country names I can think of do not consist of words for “us” or “them,” but rather either are named after peoples/nations or are descriptive words.

Prussia in German is Preussen. The indepth Wikipedia coverage on Old Prussian tribes matches my memory that Borus- was the origin from which Pruss- eventually evolved.

Russia, in Russian, is Rossiya. As noted, it derives from the self-designation of the Varangian Swedes as Rus.

It’s purely convergence in the English names derived from the two dissimilar roots.

“The people” is an example of an “us”. Lakota means “the people”, if I recall correctly. Cecil has an article where he talks about this.

… Euskaldun is not the Basque word for Basque, it’s the Basque word for “person who speaks Euskera” (and if you ask a Basque for the literal translation of Euskera, it’s “eeeh… the language of the Euskaldun?”). There is a word meaning “other languages” (Erdera) which depending on whether you’re in the French or Spanish side is understood to mean preferentially French or Spanish. If I’m in the Basque-speaking areas of Spain, someone adresses me in Euskera and I shake my head saying “erdera”, they switch to Spanish. In Roman times it meant mostly Latin unless there was a Greek in town :slight_smile:

Guess it’s just a different definition of race/culture/population than we usually have now, eh? And linked to the definition of Hispanic, which is also language-based and not ancestry based. Some of the problems of Basque independentists come from trying to solve the conundrum “Basque if you speak the language vs. Basque if your grandparents were”…

Which, in turn, comes from their native area of Roslagen.

What’s the German word for Russia or the Russian word for Prussia?

I’m asking because the two words are very similar in Hebrew, too (ROOS-yah and PROOS-yah), and from my experience, Hebrew tends to cleave closer to the original place-names than English.

The German word for Russia is Russland. The Russian word for Prussia is Prussiyah.

So in Russian, the names are also very similar.

In German, not so much.

Not as similar as they may seem when transliterated to the Latin alphabet. The first vowel in the two names are different letters, and Rossiyah is actually pronounced more like Rah-see-yah whereas I believe Prussiyah is pronounced Proo-see-yah.

Can you cite that? That, perhaps, sounds more like the root of many of the ethnonyms of pre-agricultural human groups. By the time we graduated up to nation-states, the names became more descriptive (presumably because such states were aggregates of many groups of “us”).

For those of you who did not follow up on this, a side note. While Prussia is generally associated with the authoritarian, militaristic side of German history, the name itself is the result of a historical accident of sorts. The House of Brandenburg (Hohenzollerns) governed that electorate in central eastern Germany, and used it as the basis for expansion into a number of other areas. But while the Holy Roman Empire lasted, including most of the period when Brandenburg/Prussia was rising to prominence, the rule was that there were only two Kings within the Empire, by nationality: the King of the Germans, a title generally held either by the Emperor himself or his eldest son; and the King of Bohemia, a title which devolved on the Archdukes of Austria.

Hence if you were sovereign somewhere within the Empire, and wanted the status of King, you needed to snag the title by including in your domains some nationality outside the Empire that was entitled to a King. Saxony tied itself to Poland, the Poles being entitled to a King. There were a couple of other examples.

But the Electors of Brandenburg contrived to become rulers of the lands of (more modernly known as East) Prussia, an area where Germans had taken over and all but extinguished the native Baltic population of Old Prussians. But, being a “nation,” Prussia was entitled to a King. So the Elector of Brandenburg became King in Prussia, and later King of Prussia, hence giving him a royal style – and the name “Prussia” came to be used for all his dominions, including Old (East) Prussia, the predominantly Polish coastal lands between it and Pomerania that were termed West Prussia, Brandenburg, and miscellaneous other holdings. Eventually Prussia annexed the Rhineland, and a kingdom originally centered in Konigsburg (now Kaliningrad) ended up bordering France and Belgium.

Confirmed: The vowel in PocciR (Rossiya) (using a capital R for the letter “yah” that looks like a mirror-image R) is akin to English “short O” and closer to “Raw” than to “Rah” or “Row (your boat).” The first vowel in [Pi]pycciR (Prussiya) is a clear “ooh” sound – the word sounds like Oley Olson talking about the scent on the air at his Northwoods Resort: “Sprucey, yah?” but without the initial “S.”

(Note: for typing convenience, I’ve left the Latin-alphabet lowercase “i” in place for the equivalent Cyrillic vowel, which looks like a mirror-image N.)

It depends on what syllable the stress is on. If the O syllable is stressed, it’s pronounced like a short o, but if it’s not, it’s pronounced ah.

“Wales” is said to come from the Saxon word for “foreign” whilst “Cymru” comes from the Welsh for “fellow(compatriot)”. Altho’ I grant you I can’t think of another example.