Moskal (Russian and Ukrainian: москаль, Belarusian: маскаль, Polish: moskal, German: moskowiter) is an ethnophaulism used in Ukraine, Belarus, Germany and Poland to designate the Russians regardless of their social, political or cultural beliefs. It is usually juxtaposed to the Russian terms khokhol (хохол), bulbash (бульбаш) and pshek (пшек) to respectively designate residents of the three aforementioned countries with similar negative connotation.
History and etymology
Initially, "moskal" referred to the residents of Moscovia (or Muscovy) as early as the 11th century, and was literally translating as Muscovite (in order to differentiate the residents of the Grand Duchy of Moscow from other Eastern Slavs such as people from the White Rus' (Belarusians), the Red Rus' (Galicians), and others). With time, the word became an archaism in all of the Eastern Slavic languages, and has been retained only as a family name among all those languages — see below.
The negative connotation, however, came in around the late 18th-early 19th centuries, in the form of an ethnic slur defining all Russians. At that time, soldiers of the Russian Imperial Army (later the Soviet Army), stationed in parts of present day Ukraine and Poland, became known as "moskali", and those men who were drafted by force into the Army were known in Ukrainian to be taken into moskali (Ukrainian: у москалі). Because most of them, after serving in the Army, kept speaking in Russian beyond demobilization, the word obtained its negative connotation and was applying to the person who lost his roots as well.
Moskal is not to be confused with another term quite common in Ukraine, Belarus and Poland — katsap (uk:кацап) or kacap (kacap, also kacapas in Lithuanian), which can be used similarly towards the Russians, but is far less distributed and has a completely different origin.
It also gave rise to a number of East Slavic family names: Moskal, Moskalenko, Moskalyov/Moskalyova/Moskalev/Moskaleva/Moskalov/Moskalova, Moskalik, Moskalyuk/Moskaluk, Moskalchuk, Moskalchik/Moskalczyk.
- Dictionary of the Russian language. D.N.Ushakov, M., 1940
- The Merriam-Webster English dictionary
- Edyta M. Bojanowska (2007) "Nikolai Gogol: Between Ukrainian And Russian Nationalism" ISBN 0-674-02291-2, p. 55: "In the 'low', folksy world of the provincial narrators, a Russian is a moskal ("Muscovite")", a foreigner and an intruder, at best a carpetbagger, at worst a thief in league with the devil."
- (Ukrainian)/(Russian) Search query in Russian-Ukrainian dictionaries