Monthly Archives: February 2016

Derivations and etymologies: mieli

Mieli = mind.

Miellyttää = to please and therefore a thing that pleases you is miellyttävä = pleasant.

If something is very pleasant, you probably want to have it, so “minun tekee mieli = I want / I desire it.

A thing without mind is mindless = mieletön, but a person without a mind is called mielipuoli and he probably has to stay in mielisairaala (= mental hospital).

If you have many images in your mind, you have good imagination = mielikuvitus (literally “mental illustration”).

Derivations and etymologies: Merkki

Merkki = a sing or a mark is an obvious modern Indo-European loan word (“Märke” in Swedish). It’s often times used like in English: “Se on lopunaikojen merkki” / “It’s the sign of the end of times.”

The verb derived from that is “merkitä“, for example “Merkitse tiedot lomakkeeseen” / “Mark the information in the form” (note the conjugation). Another common use is merkitä = to mean (or “to signify”), for example “Mitä tämä sana merkitsee?” / “What does this word mean?”

Important things are also remarkable and significant, so important = merkittävä.

Some remarkable things are also weird or strange = merkillinen.

Russian loanwords in Finnish language

There are less loan words from Russian than you might think. Finnish has taken more words from Swedish. Many of the Russian loanwords in Finnish are only in colloquial use. Then of course, there are common words which are loan words in both languages.

ikkuna, окно, window

kapakka, кабак, bar

kasku, ска́зка, joke (originally “legend”)

koni, конь, horse (colloq.)

kutrit, кудри, curls

leima, клеймо, stamp

lusia, служить, to serve time (in jail or army, colloq.)

lusikka, ложка, spoon

majakka, маяк, a light house

pappi, поп, a priest

piirakka, пирог, pie

pohatta, богатый, rich or powerful ( colloq.)

porkkana, borkan, carrot

putka, будка, jail (orignally a cabin, colloq.)

puuhka, пух, muff or fluff

pätsi, печь, oven (colloq.)

remontti, ремонт, renovation

risti, крести, a cross

rokuli, прогул, missing work (colloq.)

rotu, род, race

rukkanen, рукавица , mitten

rusakko, русак, a brown rabbit

saapas, сапог, a boot

savotta, завод, timber, (originally a factory)

siisti, чистый, clean

tarina, старина, story (originally “old times”)

tavara, товар, commodity

tolkku, толк, sense (colloq.)

torakka, таракан, a cockroach

toveri, товарищ, a comrade

tuumata, думать , to think (colloq.)

tyrmä, тюрьма, a jail (colloq.)

vaino, война eli sota

vapaus, свобода, freedom

vesseli, весёлый, a little boy (originally “happy”, colloq.)

viesti, весть, message

voro, вор, a thief (colloq.)

bonjata, понять, to understand (colloq.)

hotsittaa, хоте́ть, to want (colloq.)

kohmelo, похмелье, a hangover (colloq.)

lafka, лавка, a shop or business (colloq.)

mesta, место, a place (colloq.)

palttoo, пальто, a long coat

sapuska, закуска, food (colloq.)

voda, вода, water

Derivations and etymologies: liha

Liha is any kind of meat or flesh. Therefore “lihas” means a muscle: “Hänellä on timmit vatsalihakset / he has tight abs”.

Lihansyöjä is a carnivore (as opposed to kasvissyöjä, herbivore or vegetarian). Liharuoka means a meat dish.

In Finnish, a fat person is “meaty” = lihava. Lihosin lomalla kolme kiloa, nyt olen lihava! / I gained 3 kilos during the holiday, now I’m fat!

Lihansyöjä syö paljon liharuokia, joissa on proteiinia ja se kasvattaa lihaksia, mutta tekee myös lihavaksi. / A carnivore eats lots of meat dishes, which has lots of protein which makes muscles grow, but it also makes you fat.


You must hold on it, if you like it (pitää)

“Pitää” is a very common word, with several meanings. The 3 most important uses of this verb are:

  1. “to hold (on)” or “to keep”: “pitää (kiinni)” has ideas of keeping, holding or grabbing, for example “pidän sen itselläni” (“I’m keeping it to myself”) or “pidän kiinni kaiteesta” (“I’m holding to the railing”).
  2. “must” or “have to”: pitää is a synonyme for “täytyä”, for example “Hänen täytyy opiskella suomea” vs “Hänen pitää opiskella suomea” (“he must study Finnish). I’m not sure if there’s any sematical motivation behind this, but you can imagine that the responsibility holds you on it’s grip. Note, that you must use genitive with the pronoun. Read more about that type of sentences.
  3. “to like”: You must hold on to what you like, so that’s why pitää = to like. Note, that you use elative case with that verb, so you say “I like from”, Pidän suomalaisesta musiikista / I like Finnish music.

“You must hold on to what you like”
“Sinun pitää pitää kiinni siitä mistä pidät.”