The name Cossack (Ukrainian: kozak) is derived from the Turkic kazak (free man), meaning anyone who could not find his appropriate place in society and went into the steppes, where he acknowledged no authority. In European sources the term first appears in a dictionary of the Cuman language in the mid-13th century. It is also found in Byzantine sources and in the instructions issued by Italian cities to their colonies on the Black Sea coast, where it is applied to armed men who were engaged in military service in frontier regions and protected trade caravans traveling the steppe routes. By the end of the 15th century the name acquired a wider sense and was applied to those Ukrainians who went into the steppes to practice various trades and engage in hunting, fishing, beekeeping, the collection of salt and saltpeter, and so on.

Long time age, before I found out the etymology of the word "Cossack", I had my own… "theory" about their name. I connected the word "Cossack" with the word for goat – "koza", or "kozel" in Ukrainian. I thought that, at least at some point in their history, the Cossack were probably notable goat raisers. :) This seemed quite logical to me in those days. Then I found out about the possible non-Slavic etymology… It's still hard for me to accept any Turkic or Tatar origin of the word… :-

On the other hand, this Turkic word may be derived from an originally Scythian or Sarmatian word which at some point might have been overtaken by Turkic tribes, so I don't mind it that much.


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