What is the etymology of the word "slave"? I have been studying Russian history for some time and I am connecting it with the Slavs.

  • 3
    A google would have found that yes they are indeed related. - etymonline.com/word/slave
    – ed.hank
    Dec 4 '17 at 13:56
  • 4
    What has your prior research shown? Have you checked standard sources? It appears that the question can be answered by both Wikipedia and google and is therefore out of scope for H:SE. Can you revise the question to bring it into scope?
    – MCW
    Dec 4 '17 at 14:02
  • 1
    Yes, this etimology seems correct. In Latin it is "servus". But modern European languages do not derive the word from Latin, but derive it from "Slav". The reason is that there were many slavic slaves in Western Europe in the period when modern languages formed.
    – Alex
    Dec 4 '17 at 14:31
  • @Alex Is there a reason that you did not write that as an answer? Dec 4 '17 at 15:41
  • 1
    This should be moved to Linguistics. And it is a good question.
    – Anixx
    Dec 5 '17 at 2:15

Slavic slaves were very common in Europe in Medieval times. One standard rout was Islamic slave trade from Balcans were the slaves were taken to the markets in Europe as far as Spain. Another rout began in what nowadays is Southern Ukraine, through Crimea, where the slaves were resold to Genoese traders.

The Scandinavian founders of the future states called Rus, descendents of the legendary Rurik, were essentially a family-owned slave trading company operating on the territory of modern Russia and Ukraine. They sold the slaves to the Muslims first, transporting them on Volga, and later in the Black sea area transporting on the Dnieper. Then, through several intermediaries, many slaves ended in Western Europe.

Sources: Очерки начальной Руси. Киев; СПб., 2015. Sorry, only in Russian.



  • I found this on another stackexchange - english.stackexchange.com/questions/360669/… , specifically the second answer. I tend to believe the name came through the Germanic tribes as they took war booty during their raids.
    – ed.hank
    Dec 4 '17 at 23:51
  • Germanic tribes could not possibly flood Europe with Slavic slaves. The main trade was through the Black sea.
    – Alex
    Dec 5 '17 at 3:40
  • thank you for clarifying a misconception i have always had, i do believe you are correct.
    – ed.hank
    Dec 5 '17 at 12:49