Home > Forum > 'Tchaikovsky' Name

Tchaikovsky Name

My father-in-law who spoke Russian as a youth says Tchaikovsky’ name has its origin in the word for “tea”; is this true? I have never found this fact and wonder if it is just a similar word or even the same word but has no relationship. Can you please clear this up?

Victor Glenn

The Russian word for tea is "Chai" [Чай], which happens to be the first syllable of the composer's name. But the surname Tchaikovsky comes from a type of bird—specifically a gull—which in Russian is "Chaika" [Чайка]. The composer's great-grandfather was actually called Fedor Chaika, and his descendants turned this noun into an adjective, making Tchaikovskii [Чайковский]

So in short, a more literal translation of the name Tchaikovsky would be "gull-like" (!).

Brett Langston

I have just read, that the Dnepr Cossacks often used boats called Chaika" [Чайка] to travel to the Black Sea.

As Tchaikovsky's great-grandfather, Fyodor Chaika, has himself been described as a Cossack living Ukraine, close to the Dnepr region, his name seems indeed to confirm his Cossack origin. Therefore, knowing that the Cossacks in Ukraine - especially in the Dnepr region - used boats being called "Chaika" ("gull"), the origin of Tchaikovsky's name might in fact have less to do with this kind of bird than with these Cossack boats. Maybe the forebears of Fyodor Chaika used to build this kind of boat or to conduct such boats.

With best regards,

Guido Mühlemann
28/04/2013 09:11

This discussion is closed and has been archived, but you are welcome to try our new forum at:

Please note that we are not responsible for the content of external web-sites

This page was last updated on 05 November 2013