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Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by seitt, Apr 19, 2013.

  1. seitt Senior Member


    Please, what is the most basic meaning of успе́хи?
    де́лать успе́хи = to make progress
    успе́шный = successful

    Actually, what would be of great help would be if you could say something about its etymology, which should cast light on the matter. Unfortunately, it isn’t in my Russian etymological dictionaries, unless I'm looking in the wrong places. What is the role of the prefix у here?

    Best wishes, and many thanks,

  2. gvozd

    gvozd Senior Member

    If you made progress, you are successful.:) Успех originated from the verb успеть. Also there is a verb преуспевать. Тот, кто успевает (преуспевает) - тот делает успехи.
  3. Maroseika Moderator

    Успех, успевать < спеть - to ripen (поспевать, спелый), to speed, to rush, to seek or aspire.
    У- makes the action complete: спел, спел и успел (rushed, rushed and came in time).
    So успеть literally means achieve something to what somebody seeked or what he aspired.

    Other cognates - спесь, спесивый (lit. the one who achieved success > the one who is too proud of this).

    The sense of спеть 'to aspire' shows connection with Latin spero, Spanish esperar - to wait, to hope.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2013
  4. seitt Senior Member

    Thank you both very much indeed - from what you say, the х in успе́х isn't part of the root. I wonder if it's part of an old Slavonic past tense still seen in Bulgarian, e.g. ку́пих (I bought) - is that possible?
  5. Maroseika Moderator

    When talking about the roots we should differ between morphological and etymological roots. In the former case "x" of course is a part of the root of the word успех (успех-а, успех-ами, etc.). As for etymology - no, it is not past tense suffix. Max Vasmer supposes it might be by analogy with грех (*sрěхъ : *spěti, как *grěхъ : *grěti).
  6. seitt Senior Member

    Much obliged - an excellent point about грех; perhaps the analogy holds for смех too?
  7. Maroseika Moderator

    Yes, according to Chernykh, s > ch after i as in грех (smijati se - смеяться, *grois-us - грех).
  8. seitt Senior Member

    Many thanks!

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