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Wooden tserkva in Ukraine

The Polish word cerkiew [ˈt͡sɛrkʲɛf] has the same Greek origin as the English word: κυριακός (kyriakós) means "owing to the Lord".

In Polish language this term is reserved for church buildings used for Eastern Rite (Greek-Catholic or Eastern Orthodox).[1][2] Roman Catholic churches are called kościół [ˈkɔɕt͡ɕuw], Protestant ones zbór [zbur]. The word kościół originated from Czech kostel and indirectly from Latin castellum 'castle, fortress'.

Several other Slavic languages have two words for church, too.

In Ukrainian the words церква (trnl.: tserkva) and костел (kostel) are used in a very similar way as in Polish, and so are царква (tsarkva) and касьцёл (kaścioł) in Belarusian. The difference is, that in Polish the term kościół is the term more general, whereas in Ukrainian and Belarussian the terms with Byzantine specification, tserkva and tsarkva, are the more general ones.[3][4]

In Czech the discrimination is different: církev (tseerkev) is the church as institution, whereas kostel is the housing of the worships – of any Christian confession. So is the Slovakian use of cirkev (tsirkev, with short i like in sink) and kostol.


See also


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