I hope this is the right place for this question. A friend of mine came across the word "bossyi" twice whilst digging through his family records. I've trawled around the internet looking for word origins, meanings, mentions and have come up virtually empty. The only instance I could find is this lonely listing of an Alexander Bossyi from more than a century ago (https://familysearch.org/search/record/results?count=20&query=%2Bsurname%3Abossyi). This doesn't actually tell me much about the word itself other than someone else used it as a name once upon a time. Online translators draw blanks; Some suggesting it might be Finnish while others suggest Uzbek.

I'm hoping someone can shed some light. What language is it? Does it translate to anything?

Thanks for your time Jarod

1 Answer 1


This is a surname which is widespread in Eastern Europe, mainly in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. This word comes from Ukrainian and it is an adjective which means "barefoot, without shoes". In Ukrainian it is spelled Босий ['bɔsɪj], in Russian the surname is spelled Босый ['bɔsɨj] (the Russian word for "barefoot" is босой [bə'sɔj]), and in Belarusian it is Босы ['bɔsɨ]. The surname spread all over the former USSR, and since many Jews have this surname, it can be found all over the world, too.

Interesting to note that the adjective босий "barefoot" is actually an etymological cognate of the English adjective "bare" whose original meaning was "naked, uncovered, unclothed."

  • 1
    Thank you so much for this! Both fascinating and helpful.
    – Jarod
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 10:24
  • What's the difference between Ukrainian and Russian pronounciation? I thought Ukrainian и is poronounced as Russian ы
    – Anixx
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 22:42
  • @Anixx - The Ukrainian <и> [ɪ] is more fronted than the Russian <ы> [ɨ].
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 23:32

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