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For other uses, see Moskal (disambiguation).
Text in Ukrainian: "Thank God I am not a Moskal"

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.[1][2] 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[edit]

M.Fartukh "Moskali destroy Kiev", illustration from an 1934 history textbook (referring to the destruction of Kiev in 1169)

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.[3]

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.[citation needed]

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.

The term moskal or moskowiter is also used in Germany, however, it is less popular than in the former Communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

Cultural influence[edit]

"Moskal" is a stock character of the traditional Ukrainian puppet theatre form vertep.

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dictionary of the Russian language. D.N.Ushakov, M., 1940
  2. ^ The Merriam-Webster English dictionary
  3. ^ 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."

External links[edit]