This Proto-Slavic entry contains reconstructed words and roots. As such, the term(s) in this entry are not directly attested, but are hypothesized to have existed based on comparative evidence.



Etymology uncertain. Skok gives two hypotheses:

  1. From a northern Turkic language, in the form ubyr or ubyrly (witch).
  2. A Slavic construction, from *u- +‎ *pyřь, “flyer” with a privative suffix. Compare *netopyřь. According to this hypothesis *ǫpyrь could have originated as a taboo for *vьlkolakъ (cf. vukodlak).

Mel’nyčuk offers a different explanation, a Slavic construction from *ǫ- +‎ *pyr-, “not burned”, with a privative suffix attached to a root meaning “fire”. The word would then indicate an uncremated corpse. He also lists alternative suggestions that others had proposed: a possible connection with *pyřь (flyer), as above; or from *vъ- +‎ *pěrь as a coinage related to vrěpiti (“to cling”), supposedly because a vampire bites and clings to its victims. Finally, he gives a hypothesis of Turkic origin from Bashkir убыр (ubïr, glutton, witch, evil spirit) or Tatar ubyr (a mythological creature), related to upmak (to swallow), but rejects this as not convincing enough.

Mel’nyčuk further proposes that the forms with initial vam- were derived by way of Old Church Slavonic *вѫпиръ (*vǫpirŭ) with prothetic *в-, borrowed into Byzantine Greek as βαμπύρος (bampúros) and then borrowed back into the South Slavic languages.


*ǫpyrь m

  1. vampire




  • Vasmer, Max (1964–1973) , “упы́рь”, in Etimologičeskij slovarʹ russkovo jazyka [Etymological Dictionary of the Russian Language] (in Russian), translated from German and supplemented by Oleg Trubačóv, Moscow: Progress
  • Skok, Petar (1973) Etimologijski rječnik hrvatskoga ili srpskoga jezika (in Serbo-Croatian), volume 3, Zagreb: JAZU, page 564
  • Melʹnyčuk O. S., editor (2012) , “Proto-Slavic/ǫpyrь”, in Etymolohičnyj slovnyk ukrajinsʹkoji movy [Etymological Dictionary of the Ukrainian Language] (in Ukrainian), volume 6, Kyjiv: Naukova Dumka, page 38