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Formed following the pattern of Polish gorzałka, and related to горіти ‎(horíty, to burn), from Old East Slavic горѣти ‎(gorěti, to burn), from Proto-Slavic *gorěti ‎(to burn), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷʰer-, *gʷʰor- ‎(warm, hot).

It may be an abbreviation of a compound term, such as:

  • горіле вино ‎(horíle vynó, burnt wine)—compare archaic горѣлое вино ‎(horěloe vyno).
  • *горіла вода ‎(horila voda) or *горілая вода ‎(horilaja voda, burnt water)—compare Czech pálenka ‎(brandy), from Old Czech palená voda ‎(burnt water), and Hungarian pálinka from a similar Slavic origin.

Although there is no firm evidence, both горілка ‎(horilka) and gorzalłka are thought to originate as calques after New High German Branntwein ‎(brandy), from early New High German der brannte Wein ‎(burnt wine) = later German der gebrannte Wein. Also compare English brandy, from brandywine, from Dutch brandewijn ‎(burning wine).

There is also an unlikely theory that горілка ‎(horilka) comes from Russian горе́лка ‎(gorélka) after the Polish example, rather than the reverse.

Old Ukrainian forms include горѣвка ‎(horěvka), attested from the 18th century, горѣлка ‎(horělka), 1678, горилка ‎(horylka), 1562, and горѣлое вино ‎(horěloe vyno), 1511.

Also compare south Russian горе́лка ‎(gorélka), Belarusian гарэлка ‎(harèlka), Polish gorzałka, gorzała, Czech kořalka originating from Polish, dialectal Slovak goralka and goržolka also from Polish. Also English horilka or gorilka, by romanization.



горі́лка ‎(horílkaf inan ‎(genitive горі́лки, nominative plural горі́лки́)

  1. Any distilled alcoholic liquor: vodka, whisky, brandy, etc.
  2. Specifically, a clear distilled alcoholic liquor of Eastern European origin, made from grain mash, potatoes, or their peelings; vodka.
  3. Such a liquor of Ukrainian origin, as opposed to Russian or Polish vodka; horilka.



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