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Muzhik

Muzhik

[moo-zhik, moo-zhik]
Mujik or muzhik (Russian Мужик, Finnish musikka, Hungarian muzsik) is a Russian word with several possible meanings, the choice of which largely depends on the context. In its original sense, the word denoted a Russian peasant; such usage was especially common in pre-1917 Imperial Russia. The word was introduced in western languages by its wide use in literature (mainly by Tolstoi and Dostoievski).

Other meanings of the words include:

  • A reference to a man, possibly (but not necessarily) with a degree of colloquialism attached. In this sense, the semantics is close to American guy.
  • An address to a male person, with approximately the same level of formality as American dude. However, while the latter may sometimes be used without regard to addressee's gender, mujik can only address a male.
  • A reference to a male (or, with plural mujiki, to a group of all males) with particular emphasis on low social level (often with at least some intent to insult), alleged uncivil behavior, or otherwise suboptimal events or characteristics surrounding the named people. This usage, less common now than in pre-1917 Russia, largely dates back to the origin of the word: most mujiks were serfs before the 1861 agricultural reforms, and, somewhat due to the implementation of the reform, which in particular gave little property to the newly freed peasants, continued to be generally poor. In addition, the social class division between the upper-classmen (nobles, learned persons, and in general those born into upper-class families) and lower-classmen (of which peasants constituted a major category) was significantly greater than is the case in the modern Russia, to the extent that many aspects of mujiki (such as clothes and language usage) were immediately and profoundly noticeable as distinguishing them from the upper class.
  • A reference or address to a man with particular emphasis on his masculinity and/or Machismo, similar to American man in He is the man.
  • A reference to a person belonging to a low social class or status (specifically, working class or Third Estate), usually without an intent to insult, but merely as a matter-of-fact that would not be disputed even by the referenced person. This usage was common in the pre-1917 Russia, but is mostly uncommon now.

In most of the cases, the word can be used both as a reference (in third person) and as an address (in second person).

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