The word (pl. баре, ['bа:rʲe]) is roughly rendered into English as 'gentry' meaning 'a noble person without a position at imperial court'. The boyar is possibly not a cognate.

What surprises me the most is that the word bár in Old Irish (especially in its poetic speech, or in bérla na filed) had meant ´a wise chief', while the most ancient Irish sources provide a word for ´bárnía', or ´wise warrior´, and this word is even more resemblant to the Russian ´barin´.

The word барон 'baron' is not a possible source, because it does not coincide with the plural form (бароны <=барон VS барин => баре). However, the plural of боярин is бояре, which suggests a pattern, but does not explain the intervocal [j] in boyar. What is the etymology of boyar, by the way?

Hence, the question is: are there any reliable etymologucal sources (please do not quote any Vasmer or the like) which might help me in shedding some light on this issue?

  • Also compare this one: etymonline.com/index.php?term=baron – Anixx Dec 18 '13 at 19:03
  • @Anixx - Also consider the Romani (Gypsy) word baró which means "chief". :D – Yellow Sky Dec 18 '13 at 19:13
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    What's wrong with Vasmer? – Alex B. Dec 18 '13 at 19:38
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    Can you define "reliable etymological sources", considering that Vasmer "or the like" doesn't match that definition? – bytebuster Dec 18 '13 at 19:39
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    Sorry, my mistake. My linguistic knowledge does not encompass text speak, unfortunately. – fdb Dec 19 '13 at 11:09

The contact of Slavs with the Celtic people was very long ago, in the 4th - 2nd centuries BC, in the times when the Proto-Slavic language still existed, the few Slavic words that can be explained by that contact were borrowed into the Ptoto-Slavic. Because of this, it looks quite improbable that the long Celtic á of bár would give the Slavic o of болꙗринъ which was a short vowel in those times. Болꙗринъ is the original form of барин since the latter was attested much later. Besides, Slavs didn't have aristocracy BC, so the word couldn't appear that early.

All the attempts to explain that word by Celtic influence break against the laws of phonetics.

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    All the attempts to explain this word by Turkic influence (which Vasmer did) break against the laws of common sense: he suggests bai as an initial form, then it becomes Bulgaric, then the l changes into j... – Manjusri Dec 20 '13 at 1:43
  • Another issue is whether it is correct to call this a "contacts", when the Slavs of this period are generally unknown to us, and who are the abstract "Proto-Slavs" of the 4th - 2nd centuries BC in their, probably, different origins. –  Пилум Sep 17 '20 at 16:47

I would argue for the possible connection with word "baron" actually.

The word "baron" itself comes from Old French, which at the time preserved still some forms of declension and "baron" was the accusative/object/indirect case, while nominative/subject/direct was "ber", which itself had Germanic/Frankish origin in baro ("freeman").

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