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Tibla (plural: tiblad) is an ethnic slur in the Estonian language, which refers to a Russian or a Soviet[1][2]

The word possibly originates from the Russian profane addressing "ty, blyad", "ты, блядь" ("you, damn it", "you, shit", etc.[3]) or, truncated, "ty, blya", "ты, бля".[4] An alternative explanation was suggested by journalist Voldemar Kures in the 1962 Väliseestlase kalender ("Calendar for Estonians Abroad"). V. Kures claimed that the word comes from the Russian builders during World War I, who mostly came to Estonia from Vitebsk Governorate and were considered rather dumb. They were called "tipski" (a corruption of Vitebski - "from Vitebsk"), which later became "tibla".[5]

The Estonian Press Council offers an opinion that the term tibla is mostly applied to a Homo Sovieticus kind of person: lacking culture, uneducated, with imperialist worldview.[6]

The word has been actively used in Estonian media since the 1990s by a character Ivan Orav created by Andrus Kivirähk. According to Orav the word "tibla" has nothing to do with Russians but instead are small, pink creatures that first appeared in Estonia in June 1940.[7]

The 2006 European Network Against Racism report mentions the recent use of the word tibla in Estonian-language media as an example of inappropriate language.[8]


In 2002, the Estonian Press Council settled the case when the newspaper Eesti Päevaleht printed an advertisement: "Don’t you read the Päevaleht? You must be a tibla then. Be a true Estonian and become the reader."[6]

In 2008 the usage of the word in media caused a controversy, when Estonian TV aired the film Airheads, in which the slur "retards" was translated as "tibla" (a completely different meaning). When confronted, the translator, a well-known linguist, apologised, saying that she was careless.[9]


  1. ^ Roos, Aarand (1994). Words for understanding ethnic Estonians. Kommunaalprojekt. p. 49. 
  2. ^ "Tibla", Estonian Vocabulary (Eesti õigekeelsussõnaraamat ÕS 2006), Institute of the Estonian Language
  3. ^ Note: While the word blyad literally means "whore," in this context it is used as non-personal interjection , especially its truncated form, 'blya', which is never used in its literal meaning of "whore".
  4. ^ Laineste, Liisi Dysphemisms on the Estonian Internet (+[1]). — Mäetagused. Hüperajakiri ("hyperjournal"), No. 38, 2008. — pp. 7-32.(Ewe)
  5. ^ Estam, Jüri (2003-02-13). "Jüri Estam: Tibla, neeger ja juut". Eesti Päevaleht (in Estonian) (Eesti Päevalehe AS). Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  6. ^ a b "Sixth Periodic Report" on the Implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination Submitted by the Republic of Estonia under Article 9 of the Convention", 2004
  7. ^ Tiblad are small and pink, epl
  8. ^ "Racism in Estonia", ENAR Shadow Report
  9. ^ Shmelev, M. Strange accent of the local translation." Daily Vesti, 16.09.2008; the reference taken from "Racism in Estonia", ENAR Shadow Report 2008