Verbs of the Emotional States of Shame and Embarrassment in Russian: A Diachronic Aspect




lexical semantics, diachrony, verbs of shame, embarrassment and shyness, Russian


This article is devoted to the description of verbs of the emotional states of shame, embarrassment, and shyness in the diachronic aspect. The relevance of the research is due to the need to expand knowledge about the dynamic changes in the vocabulary of emotions, and the impact of cultural and political transformations on these changes. Although semantic differences in Russian expressions for shame-like emotional states have been well studied, diachronic changes in the meanings of these expressions have received little attention. The scholarly novelty of this work is determined by the fact that it examines the diachronic development of the verbs for these emotional states, which occurred in the Russian language in the eleventh–twenty-first centuries, and the factors that caused these changes. The data have been collected from explanatory dictionaries of the modern Russian language, etymological dictionaries, and historical dictionaries of different ages and coverage, as well as the National Russian electronic corpora. The material for the study was data from explanatory dictionaries of the modern Russian language, historical, and etymological dictionaries of the Russian language, as well as data from the National Corpus of the Russian language. The theoretical basis of this research was formed by works in the field of the linguistics of emotions and linguistic culture. The main research methods were the contextual-functional method, as well as etymological analysis. This study demonstrates that in the process of the semantic development of the verbs of shame and embarrassment in the Russian language, both general tendencies towards a decrease in the polysemy of semantically overloaded linguistic structures and tendencies towards a more accurate and precise labelling of various aspects of emotional states play an important role. It is shown that during the semantic development of words denoting shame and embarrassment, the polysemy “to be shameful” / “to feel shame” was gradually lost and the polysemy “to be ashamed” / “to be embarrassed” decreased in use. The article also describes the main patterns of semantic derivation that are typical of verbs of shame and embarrassment, which appear in the Russian language of different centuries.

Author Biography

Marika Kalyuga

PhD (Philology), Associate Professor, Macquarie University.

123, Pitt Str., NSW 2000, Sydney, Australia.

ORCID 0000-0002-1588-7930


Antonova, L. E. (2009). Semantika styda i sposoby ee vyrazheniya v sovremennom russkom yazyke: norma i substandarty [Semantics of Shame and Ways of Its Expression in the Modern Russian Language]. Avtoref. dis. … kand. filol. nauk. St Petersburg, S. n. 25 p.

Antonova, L. E., Nikol’skaya, I. G. (2007). Yazykovoe voploshchenie diskomfortnykh emotsii v sovremennom russkom yazyke (na primere styda i somneniya) [Linguistic Embodiment of Uncomfortable Emotions in Modern Russian]. In Izvestiya Rossiiskogo gosudarstvennogo pedagogicheskogo universiteta imeni A. I. Gertsena. Vol. 17. No. 43-1, pp. 21–27.

Apresyan, Yu. D. (1995). Izbrannye trudy. Integral’noe opisanie i sistemnaya leksikografiya v 2 t. [Integral Description and Systemic Lexicography. 2 Vols.]. Moscow, Shkola “Yazyki russkoi kul’tury”. Vol. 2. 767 p.

Apresyan, Yu. D. (2004). Stydit’sya, stesnyat’sya, smushchat’sya, konfuzit’sya [To Feel Ashamed, Shy, Embarrassed]. In Apresyan, Yu. D. (Ed). Novyi ob”yasnitel’nyi slovar’ sinonimov russkogo yazyka. Moscow, Vena, Yazyki slavyanskoi kul’tury, Venskii slavisticheskii al’manakh, pp. 1122–1128.

Arutyunova, N. D. (2000). O styde i sovesti [About Shame and Conscience]. In Arutyunova, N. D., Yanko, T. E., Ryabtseva, N. K. (Eds). Logicheskii analiz yazyka. Yazyki etiki. Moscow, Yazyki russkoi kul’tury, pp. 54–78.

Bulygina, T. V., Shmelev, A. D. (2000). Grammatika pozora [Grammar of Shame]. In Arutyunova, N. D., Yanko, T. E., Ryabtseva, N. K. (Eds). Logicheskii analiz yazyka. Yazyki etiki. Moscow, Yazyki russkoi kul’tury, pp. 216–234.

Dvoretskii, I. Kh. (1958). Drevnegrechesko-russkii slovar’ v 2 t. [Ancient Greek- Russian Dictionary. 2 Vols.]. Moscow, GIS.

Goryacheva, T. V. (2016). Etimologicheskie zametki [Etymological Notes]. In Trudy Instituta russkogo yazyka imeni V. V. Vinogradova. No. 8, pp. 156–166.

Kurath, H. (1921). The Semantic Sources of the Words for the Emotions in Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, and the Germanic Languages. Menasha, George Banta Publ. 77 p.

Lutsenko, A. A. (2012). Reprezentatsiya kontsepta “sovest’” v russkom i angliiskom yazykovom soznanii [The Representation of the Concept “sovest” (“conscience”) in Russian and English Linguistic Cultures]. In Lutsenko, A. A. (Ed.). Sistema і struktura skhіdnoslov’yans’kikh mov. Sbornik statei. Kiїv, Vidavnitstvo Natsіonal’nogo pedagogіchnogo unіversitetu іmenі M. P. Dragomanova. Iss. 6, pp. 257–261.

NKRYa – Natsional’nyi korpus russkogo yazyka [Russian National Corpus] : [website]. URL: (accessed: 16.02.2021).

Sreznevskii, I. I. (1893). Materialy dlya slovarya drevnerusskogo yazyka v 3 t. [Materials for the Dictionary of the Old Russian Language]. St Petersburg, Tipografiya Imperatorskoi akademii nauk.

SRYa XI–XVII vv. – Slovar’ russkogo yazyka XI–XVII vv. [Dictionary of the Russian Language of the 11th–17th Centuries.]. (1975–). Moscow, Nauka.

SRYa XVIII v. – Slovar’ russkogo yazyka XVIII v. [Dictionary of the Russian Language of the 18th Century] / ed. by Yu. S. Sorokin. (1992). St Petersburg, Nauka. Iss. 7. 231 p.

Sweetser, E. (1990). From Etymology to Pragmatics: Metaphorical and Cultural Aspects of Semantic Structure. Cambridge, N. Y., Cambridge Univ. Press. 174 p.

Ushakov, D. N. (Ed.). (1935–1940). Tolkovyi slovar’ russkogo yazyka v 4 t. [Explanatory Dictionary of the Russian Language. 4 Vols.]. Moscow, Sovetskaya entsiklopediya. In Leksikograficheskii internet-portal [website]. URL: (accessed: 16.02.2023).

Vasmer, M. (N. d.) Etimologicheskii onlain-slovar’ russkogo yazyka Maksa Fasmera [Etymological Online Dictionary of the Russian Language by Max Vasmer]. In Leksikograficheskii internet-portal [website]. URL: (accessed: 16.02.2023).

Zaliznyak, A. A. (2006). Mnogoznachnost’ v yazyke i sposoby ee predstavleniya [Polysemy in Language and Ways of Its Representation]. Moscow, Yazyki slavyanskikh kul’tur. 672 p.



How to Cite

Kalyuga, M. (2023). Verbs of the Emotional States of Shame and Embarrassment in Russian: A Diachronic Aspect. Quaestio Rossica, 11(1), 217–229.



Problema voluminis