The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a word or expression in Russian that has an Old Church Slavonic or Church Slavonic origin or that is composed of Old Church Slavonic or Church Slavonic elements. With certain exceptions, words and phrases of such origin are distinguished by a special stylistic coloring: they are solemn, archaic, poetic, or generally literary, for example, glas, “voice,” desnitsa, “right hand,” sei, “this,” and nest’ chisla, “they are innumerable.”

Most Slavonicisms entered the Old Russian literary language during the first centuries of the language’s existence from works in Old Church Slavonic or later from Church Slavonic, but many were formed in the Russian literary language itself using elements from these two languages. These elements bear certain traits that “are usually phonetic or morphological in nature, for example, nonpleophonic combinations (breg, “shore,” and grad, “city,” versus the purely Russian forms bereg and gorod), the sounds zhd and shch (nadezhda, “hope,” odezhda, “clothing,” noshch’, “night,” and sveshcha, “candle,” versus the purely Russian forms nadezha, odezha, noch’, and svecha), and the prefix -iz (izlit, “to pour out,” and iskhod, “outcome,” versus the purely Russian forms vylit’, “to pour out,” and vykhod, “exit”). Slavonicisms may be simply lexical doublets, for example, lanity, “cheeks,” persi, “breast,” and chelo, “forehead,” versus the corresponding Russian forms shcheki, grud’, and lob.

Slavonicisms were widely used in Old Russian literature. They played an important role in the creation of the elevated style of Russian classicism and in various genres of poetic language up to the mid-19th century and, occasionally, even later.


Shakhmatov, A. A. Ocherk sovremennogo russkogo literaturnogo iazyka, 4th ed. Moscow, 1941.
Vinokur, G. O. “O slavianizmakh ν sovremennom russkom literatur-nom iazyke.” In his book Izbrannye raboty po russkomu iazyku. Moscow, 1959.
Tseitlin, R. M. “Ob upotreblenii termina ‘staroslavianizm.’” Kratkie soobshcheniia Instituta slavianovedeniia A N SSSR, 1965, issue 43.

R. M. TSEITLIN [23–1623–]

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Nor does Tosi neglect the linguistic and stylistic debate between those Russians, led by Shishkov, who advocated the use of a literary language imbued with Slavonicisms, and those, inspired by Karamzin and belonging to the society Arzamas, who advocated a more elegant, accessible style based on educated speech and drawing on foreign models.
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