What's in a Word | All Blogs


Tsar power

By Debra Dobbins

Variations of Julius Caesar’s last name crop up in at least three different languages: German, Russian and English.

“The Latin pronunciation of Caesar is ky’ zar,” writes Isaac Asimov in Words from History. “The Germans kept the Latin pronunciation and spelled it, according to their system, as Kaiser. This means ‘Emperor’ in German.”

Asimov notes that in the mid-1400s the Russians also picked up the word, but at first called it tsesar. Eventually it became tsar, and in English it became czar.


Russian Tsar Peter the Great
Photo of painting courtesy of Wikipedia

 

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