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Text in Ukrainian on a white T-shirt: "Слава Богу, що я не москаль" (Slava Bohu, shcho ya ne moskal; "Thank God I am not a moskal")

Moskal (Russian and Ukrainian: москаль, Belarusian: маскаль, Polish: moskal, Hungarian: muszka, Lithuanian: maskolis), also known as Muscal, is a historical designation used for the residents of the Grand Duchy of Moscow from the 12th to the 15th centuries.[1] Today, it is used as an ethnic slur for Russians by Ukrainians, Belarusians (in Russian language[1]) and Poles in their respective countries.[2] The term is generally considered to be derogatory or condescending and reciprocal to the term khokhol for Ukrainians, as used by Russians.[3] Another ethnic slur for Russians is kacap in Polish and Czech, or katsap (Кацап in Ukrainian), meaning the bearded one.

History and etymology[edit]

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

Initially, as early as the 12th century, moskal referred to the residents of "Moscovia", the word literally translating as "Muscovite" (differentiating the residents of the Grand Duchy of Moscow from other East Slavs such as people from White Ruthenia (Belarusians), Red Ruthenia (Galicians) and others). With time, the word became an archaism in all the East Slavic languages, and survived only as a family name in each of those languages—see below.[4]

The negative connotation, however, came in around the late 18th-early 19th centuries in the form of an ethnic slur labelling all Russians. At that time, soldiers of the Imperial Russian Army (and later those of the Soviet Army) stationed in parts of present-day Ukraine and Poland became known as moskale.[citation needed]

Cultural influence[edit]

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

Moskaliki is a Ukrainian designation for small fish typically used as bait or as a casual snack.

It also gave rise to a number of East Slavic family names.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Alexander Mikaberidze (2011). Ilya Radozhitskii's Campaign Memoirs. Lulu. p. 10. ISBN 978-1-105-16871-0.
  2. ^ Benjamin Harshav (1986). American Yiddish Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology. University of California Press. p. 559. ISBN 978-0-520-04842-3.
  3. ^ Thompson, Ewa Majewska (1991). The Search for self-definition in Russian literature. 27. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 22. ISBN 9027222134.
  4. ^ 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]