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From an older infinitive *kusēt, originally the iterative form of an older verb *kust (to stir, to move) (from which the t, especially from the third-person form, also kust, was transferred to *kusēt, yielding kustēt) — which has disappeared, perhaps because of homophony with kust (to melt, to become soft, liquid) and kust (to grow tired, weak), all ultimately from the same original stem —, from Proto-Baltic *kuš-, from Proto-Indo-European *kewḱ-, *kuḱ- (to boil, to run over, to effervesce, to ferment), from the stem *ḱew-, *kew- (to swell). The original meaning of kustēt referred thus to movement related to boiling, foaming, or fermenting, which was analogically extended to the movements of little animals and insects (“to teem”), later to those of other animals (cf. kustonis “animal,” originally “insect”), and finally to motion in general. Cognates include Lithuanian dialectal kuštė́ti (to move), kùšti (to twist, to stir, to move suddenly), kušė́ti (to swarm, to teem, to move around), Russian кушеть (kušét’, to teem, to swarm), Ancient Greek κυκάω (kukáō, to stir up, to mix)[1]




kustēt intr., 3rd conj., pres. kustu, kusti, kust, past kustēju

  1. (of living beings) to move (to go from one place to another)
    kust (= kustas) kā ūdenszālehe moves like seaweed (= he is very active, moves around a lot)
    viņš nepavisam necentās pielāgoties Birutas žiglajam solim, nē, viņš tikko kustējahe did not really try to adapt to Biruta's quick pace, no, he just moved (slowly)
    šoseja mirdz blāvi, un tālumā pa to kust cilvēku bariņšthe highway had a dull shine, and in the distance a group of people moved on it
    viņam tīk iegriezties mazo upīšu krastmalās, kur zem kārklu cera augusta pievakarē sāk kustēt vēžihe liked to go to the banks of small rivers, where under the willow trees, in the late afternoon, the crayfish started moving (around)
  2. (of living beings, their body parts) to move (to change position or state, especially several times, in different directions)
    suns pieplok pie zemes, uzliek purnu uz ķepām un raugās augšup lūdzēja acīm, tikai pats astes galiņš kust kā pelethe dog sat down on the ground, putting his muzzle between his paws and looking up in his benefactor's eyess, only the tip of his tail moves (= wags) like a mouse
    viņš it kā sastingst, vaigos kust muskuļi, roku pirksti savelkas un atlaižas zem jaunā uzvalka piedurknēmhe is as if frozen, in his cheeks the muscles move, his fingers (are) tightened and sprawl out under the sleeves of (his) new suit
  3. (of vehicles) to move (to go somewhere, in some direction, usually slowly)
    labības kombains un citi lauku tehnikas milzeņi nevar kustēt bez degvielas sūkņiemthe grain harvester and other agricultural machinery cannot move without fuel pumps
  4. to move (to be made to change position or state, especially several times)
    vējā kust koku zarithe tree branches move (= sway) in the wind
    strauta apakšā kust zāles, aizpeld sīks knislis, zivtiņa vai kukainis, aizzib un pazūdat the bottom of the stream (aquatic) herbs are moving, small midges, little fish or instects, swim around, flash away and disappear
    bērzos ne pūsmas, ne vēsmas; ne lapa kust, ne smilga ligojasin the birch trees, not a blow, not a breeze; not a (single) leaf moves, not a (single) blade of grass sways
    kad strazdi dzied un purvos vardes kurkst, tad iesāk arī koku dzīslās kustēt saldās asiniswhen the blackbirds sing and the frogs croak in the swamps, then sweet blood begins to move (= flow) in the tree veins

Usage notes[edit]

The reflexive form kustēties is the usual way of saying “to move” in Latvian. The non-reflexive kustēt, though possible, is much less frequent. The same is true for the derived prefixed verbs (e.g., pakustēties is more frequent than pakustēt, etc.), so much that sometimes only the reflexive form exists (e.g., sakustēties).


Derived terms[edit]

prefixed verbs:
other derived terms:


  1. ^ Karulis, Konstantīns (1992), “kustēt”, in Latviešu Etimoloģijas Vārdnīca (in Latvian), Rīga: AVOTS, →ISBN