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Words new to me: пахитоска

May 21, 2017

This in context clearly means something like a cigarette:

I realized how awkward I had been, got embarrassed, and muttered something. Elena gave a short laugh. Red spots appeared on her cheeks; she kept discarding the butt of one pakhitoska and lighting up another.

Я поняла свою неловкость, смутилась и что-то пробормотала. Елена усмехнулась. Красные пятна выступили на ее щеках; она беспрестанно бросала кончик докуренной пахитоски и зажигала другую. (792)

That’s from Ol’ga N.’s (Sophie Engelhardt’s) “They Did Not Come Together” (Не сошлись, 1867). I’ve seen the word пахитоска here and there and it seemed odd to me that it was so close in both meaning and sound to папироска ‘kind of cigarette,’ but was still different enough that it didn’t look like another form of the same word.

It turns out that pakhitoska is thought to be “from the Spanish pajitos ‘straws’” (though Spanish dictionaries seem to think the word should be feminine, at least in the modern language: pajapajita). And Spanish plays a part in the story of the word papiroska too: “from the Polish papieros, formed from papier ‘paper’ by analogy with the Spanish cigar[r]os.”

Here’s how popular the words пахитосы, папиросы, and сигареты have been over time (in each case the diminutive is common enough for an Ngram, but less common with this ending than the non-diminutive).

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