This word is traditionally related to čukstēt (“to whisper; to hiss, to sizzle”) and considered imitative of a snake's hissing noise. It seems more likely, though, that the sound symbolism has influenced (cf. dialectal variants ķūska, cūška), but not created, the word, which could then be derived from earlier *čuk-skā-, from *ķuk-, *tʲuk with a suffix -skā, from Proto-Baltic *tyuk-, from Proto-Indo-European *tewk-, *tūk-, from a stem *tew-, *stew- (“to strike, to crush; to pierce”) (whence also Middle Low German stoken (“to stab, to prickle”), German stochern (“to pick, to poke”), Sanskrit दति (tudáti, “to push, to strike, to jab, to pierce”)). The original meaning of čūska was “one who stabs, pokes, pierces” (cf. dialectal verb čūkāt, čūskāt (“to pick, to poke”), čuslis (“long, pointed skewer; oven poker”)), and it was at first a nickname which replaced the earlier term odze, now restricted to a specific type of snake (“viper”).
čūska f (4th declension)
- snake (many species of legless reptiles of the suborder Serpentes)
- indīga čūska — poisonous snake
- gludenā čūska — smooth snake (Coronella austriaca)
- čūskas kodums, kodiens — snake bite
- čūska dzeļ, šņāc, ložņā — the snake bites, hisses, crawls
- lokās kā čūska — s/he twists, writhes like a snake
- a malicious, evil person
- ^ “čūska” in Konstantīns Karulis (1992, 2001), Latviešu Etimoloģijas Vārdnīca (Rīga: AVOTS) ISBN: 9984-700-12-7.