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Words new to me: зажилить

May 10, 2013

This one is from part 2, chapter 15 of Pisemskii’s Men of the Forties (Люди сороковых годов, 1869):

“But at any rate it’s money earned over a lifetime.”

“Well, but you’ll pay me back someday, you won’t zazhilit’ it.”

“And if you die before I have a chance to pay you back?”

“Well, you can pay my old lady.”

“And if your wife dies too?”

“Good heavens, you have us all dying; well, give it to the church then.”

– Но деньги все же целым веком нажитые.

– Да ведь вы мне отдадите их когда-нибудь, не зажилите.

– А если ты умрешь, и я не успею отдать?

– Ну, жене-старухе отдадите.

– А если и жена умрет?

– Ай, батюшки, все так и перемрем; ну, в церковь положите.

Зажилить (зажилю, зажилишь…) with the imperfective жилить or зажиливать is marked as prostorechie or substandard, and though a simple concept requires multiple words in English: ‘fail to return (something borrowed).’

The etymology is apparently unclear. The word isn’t just a nineteenth-century word: one usage example involves not giving back a cassette, and a slang dictionary makes a point of saying it was used in the nineteenth century, “by A. Pisemskii and others.” One of the others was Dostoevskii.

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