Holodomor (Голодомор) is a part of the Soviet famine of 1932–33.
The events in Ukraine were called "Holodomor", but when did the word appear?

Google Books Ngram Viewer shows no mentions of Holodomor before 1990s,
and while it shows a couple of mentions of Cyrillic word Голодомор as early as 1938,
I couldn't find anything relevant on the Google Books search proper.

  • 4
    Google books shows a couple of references to the word in International Affairs, Vol 54, Issues 4-6, which was published in 1955. However, it's only available in snipet format. Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 21:15
  • 3
    @KillingTime, unfortunately, Google Books is highly inaccurate when it comes to publishing dates. This Volume 54 was published in 2008. Just look at the "Common terms and phrases"- there is European Union, Russian Federation, etc.
    – Abyx
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 12:20
  • There were three Holodomors between 1918 and 1957 orchestrated by the Bolsheviks, culminating in some Cannabalism. Between the ones that starved to death and the working Gulag camps in Siberia, 60 million died. The largest manmade genocide in History. See Alexander Solzhenitsyn Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 16:09

3 Answers 3


When did the word Holodomor appear?

Wikipedia explains the etymology of holodomor as follows:

The word Holodomor literally translated from Ukrainian means "death by hunger", or "to kill by hunger, to starve to death". Sometimes the expression is translated into English as "murder by hunger or starvation". Holodomor is a compound of the Ukrainian words holod meaning "hunger" and mor meaning "plague". The expression moryty holodom means "to inflict death by hunger". The Ukrainian verb moryty (морити) means "to poison somebody, drive to exhaustion or to torment somebody". The perfective form of the verb moryty is zamoryty – "kill or drive to death by hunger, exhausting work". The word was used in print as early as 1978 by Ukrainian immigrant organisations in the United States and Canada. However, in the Soviet Union – of which Ukraine was a constituent republic – references to the famine were controlled, even after de-Stalinization in 1956. Historians could speak only of 'food difficulties', and the use of the very word golod/holod (hunger, famine) was forbidden.

Discussion of the Holodomor became more open as part of Glasnost in the late 1980s. In Ukraine, the first official use of the word was a December 1987 speech by Volodymyr Shcherbytskyi, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, on the occasion of the republic's seventieth anniversary. An early public usage in the Soviet Union was in February 1988, in a speech by Oleksiy Musiyenko, Deputy Secretary for ideological matters of the party organisation of the Kiev branch of the Union of Soviet Writers in Ukraine. The term may have first appeared in print in the Soviet Union on 18 July 1988, in his article on the topic. "Holodomor" is now an entry in the modern, two-volume dictionary of the Ukrainian language, published in 2004. The term is described as "artificial hunger, organised on a vast scale by a criminal regime against a country's population." - Holodomor (Wikipedia)

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    I wonder if they are significant proofs that it was voluntary or if it is pure incompetence like Mao in China ? Moreover, I wonder why USSR was so blamed about this when some democracies did no better. UK for example has world breaking records in numbers of famine in some of his dominions while these territories were net producers of food (Ireland, India). And Holodomor was older than some major famine in British India
    – xrorox
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 8:53
  • @mart I'll look into it.
    – xrorox
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 12:16

The December 26, 1925 issue of СВОБОДА (SVOBODA, "FREEDOM"), a Ukrainian language daily newspaper from Jersey City, New Jersey, USA, tagged "Official Organ of the Ukrainian National Association, Inc.," contains an article titled "НАСЛІДОК ГОЛОДІВКИ" that contains the word "голодомор":


The word "голодомор" appears in multiple issues of this daily paper through 1939 and once again in 1952.

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    Great find! Third column, about half way down, for those interested. Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 17:33
  • Interesting that here "голодомор" describes a starving person, not a famine. The translation is "The famous голодомор Wolle the Dutchman once was starving for 28 days to understand for how long a person can survive without food. Then he wanted to break his record and prove that he can last without food longer. He was put into a glass box without giving him food. However he couldn't withstand it as he was attacked by madness."
    – Abyx
    Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 21:32

This term was first mentioned on August 17, 1933 in in a Czech magazine "Večernı́k P.L.", where the information about the "Hladomor v SSSR" was published.

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    can you provide a link for this? Commented Dec 1, 2020 at 23:02

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