November 16, 2016



Where does this word come from? I have a weird feeling it's an insulting reference to Hungary (Magyar?)

November 16, 2016


In short, nobody knows.

It's a Balkan word with disputed etymology: Bulgarian and Macedonian магаре (magare); Serbian and Croatian magarac (магарац); Romanian măgar; Albanian magar. It is usually compared to the Greek γομάρι and the Albanian gomar (from Greek), both meaning “donkey” and thought to come from the Greek γομάριον (a pack animal), γόμος (load, burden), or as a borrowing from Arabic ḥimār (donkey). All these forms, however, do not explain the vowels in the various South Slavic languages and Romanian. The lack of old forms makes it difficult to find a proper etymology for the word, so it may somehow come from Paleo-Balkan languages, (Vulgar) Latin, or you may actually be correct in your assertion and it could potentially be connected to Hungarians in some way, either derogatory or otherwise, – we simply have no idea, more or less.

November 17, 2016


Thank you for this fascinating and in-depth answer!

November 17, 2016


Smarinov: One mistake in your writing - the Slovenian word for "donkey" is "osel", not "magarac"!!

February 22, 2017


Thanks, I didn't know that! I fixed it above and sent feedback to the authors of the source I used.

This is an old Slavic (and actually Indo-European) word for donkeys and осел is used in Bulgarian alongside магаре (also osioł in Polish and osel in Czech, асёл in Belarusian and осёл in Russian, Esel in German, even aasi in Finnish and asinus in Latin, etc).

February 22, 2017


Is that also where english ass comes from?

September 9, 2017


Yes, in the meaning of ‘donkey’ and also ‘fool, idiot, stupid person’ according to Wiktionary.

The other meanings of the word trace their roots to ‘arse’ which in turn is Germanic and apparently comes from the same word as the German ‘Arsch’.

September 14, 2017


It def sounds arabic Himar, It is also used as an insult in Arabic.

December 14, 2016


So in romanian. Dont call someone ”măgăr”.

December 26, 2016

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To be safe, not a good idea! Just as in English and other Indo-European languages, people compared to donkeys are percieved as strongheaded at best! BUT, to make the OP and the friendly neighbors (the Hungarians) feel better, apparently (see reference below) there are areas in Romania where ”măgăreț” means ”funny” as in amusing or witty. See: http://www.webdex.ro/online/dictionar/m%C4%83gar

December 31, 2016


I think in any language is not a good idea to call someone "donkey" :)

August 29, 2017


No sir, I would never

December 31, 2016


It's an insulting in romanian if you say to a man. Esti un magar! - You are a jerk!

November 20, 2016


Magyar is of native origin and has never been pronounced with proper -g- (it comes from proto-Ugric *mænć- /a thinking creature/ pronounced with an affricate, not a stop; PS: the affricate -nć- eventually became voiced -ǯ- because of the nasal - this is a regular sound change in Hungarian). Thus, it's very unlikely that the name of the animal comes from the endonym of the Hungarians.

July 29, 2017


There is a possibility to come from the Dacian language (they used to live on the Romanian territory before the Romans came) , https://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Listă_de_cuvinte_românești_moștenite_probabil_din_limba_dacă

January 15, 2017


It seems odd that an animal might be named after a culture, even as an insult. Presumably, the culture would be called after the animal. We might learn more from the etymlogy of Magyar. Regardless, if Magyar is the name Hungarians use to describe their own country, I'm assuming they aren't making fun of themselves.

June 8, 2017


why am i hearing the pronounciation as mulgar? Is she saying it correct?

June 2, 2017


As a native speaker of American English, I often confuse the r- and l-sounds of romance languages. I heard that at a young age, our brains are wired to turn sounds into discrete phonemes, and its very hard to for me to unhear the English letters. I even hear an English sound for â, although I've been told that's not available in English.

June 8, 2017


what's wrong with ”ass”? it is a perfect English word... http://lmgtfy.com/?q=define+ass also ”❤❤❤❤❤❤❤”, ”burro” etc... google them...

Edit: in Romanian we also have ”asin” https://dexonline.ro/definitie/asin

January 23, 2017


Do people in Romania make jokes about măgar / Magyar ?

October 24, 2017
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