The traditional approach derives this word from an earlier *žinsti, from Proto-Baltic *žind-ti, from *žind-, from the reduced form *ǵendʰ, *ǵ(e)ndʰ- of Proto-Indo-European *ǵenədʰ- ‎(jaw, chin), whence also Latvian zods ‎(chin), Lithuanian žándas ‎(chin, jaw, cheek). In this case, the original meaning would have been related to “cheek, jaw,” from which “to suckle.” A more recent theory suggests a connection between zīst and Ancient Greek νεογιλλός ‎(neogillós, newborn; young, new) (< *neo-gid-los), both presumably from Proto-Indo-European *ǵeid- ‎(to suckle). In either case, cognates include Lithuanian žįsti.[1]


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zīst tr. or intr., 1st conj., pres. zīžu, zīd, zīž, past zīdu

  1. to suck, to suckle (to press a female nipple with one's lips and tongue, so that it produces milk; to drink the milk so produced)
    zīst māti — to suckle (one's) mother (i.e., to suckle milk from one's mother's breast)
    bērns zīž krūti — the child suckles the breast
    kaķēns vēl nezīž — the kitten doesn't suckle yet
    jēri metas zīst — the lambs rushed to suckle
    trīs mazi ezēni zīda māti, sagulušies rindā kā sivēni — three little hedgehogs suckled (their) mother, lying in a row like piglets
  2. to suck, to suckle (to take something into one's mouth and make sucking movements)
    zīst ķepu, pirkstu — to suck(le) (one's) paw, finger
    bērni visbiežāk zīž pirkstus pirms iemigšanas un pēc pamošanās — children most often suck (their) fingers before sleep or after waking up
  3. (colloquial) to smoke (a pipe, a cigarette, etc.) slowly
    pēdējo smēķa galiņu zīzdams, Klucis noskatīja daudz neveiklāko Modrisucking the last tip of (his) cigarrette, Klucis looked at the much clumsier Modris



Derived termsEdit

prefixed verbs:

Related termsEdit



  1. 3rd person singular present indicative form of zīt
  2. 3rd person plural present indicative form of zīt
  3. (with the particle lai) 3rd person singular imperative form of zīt
  4. (with the particle lai) 3rd person plural imperative form of zīt


  1. ^ Karulis, Konstantīns (1992), “zīst”, in Latviešu Etimoloģijas Vārdnīca (in Latvian), Rīga: AVOTS, ISBN 9984-700-12-7
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