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.



Of Germanic origin, with two proposed sources of borrowing:

The intrinsic relation between the two meanings is sometimes disputed (e.g. by Kluge), since there is no survived evidence for beech-based writing among early Germanic and Balto-Slavic people. It is possible (as noted by Mallory and Adams) that beech had religious significance for ancient Indo-European people and so was used to inscribe sacred symbols onto[2]. In this case, the extended meaning writ, sign would be directly borrowed from Germanic. A third hypothesis speculates that beechmast was used for counting and bookkeeping, whence the word innately developed a sense of “unit of data representation” → grapheme, writ.


*bùky f[3][1]

  1. Alternative form of *bukъ (beech)
  2. (by specialization) beechmast
  3. (by extension) writ, grapheme, written signletter
    Synonyms: *čьrka, *pisьmo, *znakъ
  4. (by extension, in the plural) books (corpus of written inscriptions)
    Synonym: *kъňigy

Usage notesEdit

The meaning in West and Western South Slavic is beech or beechmast, while in East and Eastern South Slavic, the primary attested meaning is letter (or generally grapheme). It has evolved from an earlier meaning inscription, writ (attested in Church Slavonic). Occassionally, Old Church Slavonic боукъви pl (bukŭvi) could also refer to tally or another bookkeeping mean.

During the development of Church Slavonic writing, Old Church Slavonic боукꙑ (buky) was chosen as the name for the second letter of the Cyrillic and Glagolitic alphabets, whence the term азъбоукꙑ (azŭbuky, alphabet).


Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit


Further readingEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Snoj, Marko (2016), “bukev”, in Slovenski etimološki slovar, Ljubljana: Inštitut za slovenski jezik Frana Ramovša ZRC SAZU, →ISBN: “Slovan. *bűky, rod. *bűkъve”
  2. 2.0 2.1 Pronk-Tiethoff, Saskia E. (2013) The Germanic loanwords in Proto-Slavic[1] (in English), Amsterdam - New York: Rodopi, →ISBN, page 75: “PSl. *buky ‘beech(nut)’ (f. ū-stem).... AP (a)”
  3. ^ Olander, Thomas (2001), “buky, G. bukъve”, in Common Slavic accentological word list, Copenhagen: Editiones Olander: “a (PR 133)”