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indo-european salmon lax laks lahs losos lasisa icon

Lax means salmon in Indo-European languages. This word is most probably of Corded Ware Culture or Eastern European Hunter-Gatherer origin and its cognates created a famous Salmon problem in the field of linguistics.

A general word for fish in most Indo-European languages comes from a substrate language. That is why it is predicted that the Indo-European language originated in the Steppes or Forests poor in fish. In my opinion the Indo-European language of the Eastern Hunter-Gatherers already possessed the vocabulary concerning fish species and simply there was no need to bring new names to other Hunter-Gatherer or Farming communities of Western and Southern Europe that already had those in their vocabulary.

The change of "K" to "S" or "S" to "K" is not uncommon because it also appeared in Native American languages, for example a word for a "fish" in Achuar and Aguaruna languages is "namak" but in Abenaki language it is "namas".

Within Germanic group "K", "H" and "S" sounds are not stable in a word for "salmon": Old Norse "laks", Old Saxon "lahs", Middle Low German "las".

Tocharian B "laksi" and Tocharian A "läks" simply meant "fish" and in Irish "liús" means "pike" not "salmon". Most probably the original meaning of a word for "lax" was "the shiny one" from a word for "bright" or "light". In Old Norse "lýsa" meant "to light" and in Gaulish "leux" meant "light".


Middle English: lax

Scots: lax

English: lax

Old Norse: lax

Icelandic: lax

Gutnish: lax

Old Swedish: lax

Swedish: lax

Old Danish: lax

Norn: laks

Norwegian: laks

Danish: laks

Faroese: laksur

Middle Dutch: lacks, lack

Tocharian B: laksi ("fish")


---> Hungarian: lazac

---> Ume Sami: luassa

Middle Low German: las

Middle Dutch: lasche

Dutch: las

Ossetian: лӕсӕг (læsæg)

Lithuanian: lãšis, lašiša

Belarusian: ласо́сь (lasósʹ)

Old Prussian: lalasso (lasasso?)


Russian: лосо́сь (losósʹ), ло́сось (lósosʹ)

Rusyn: ло́сос (lósos)

Ukrainian: лосо́сь (losósʹ)

Macedonian: лосос (losos)

Serbo-Croatian: ло̏сос, lȍsos

Slovene: lọ̑sos

Czech: losos

Polish: łosoś

Slovak: losos

Lower Sorbian: łosos

Upper Sorbian: łosos


---> Finnish: lohikala, lohi (losi?, loki?)

---> Estonian: lõhe

---> Ingrian: lohi

---> Veps: lohi


---> Southern Sami: loese


---> Inari Sami: luosâ

---> Lule Sami: luossa

---> Pite Sami: luossa

---> Northern Sami: luossa

---> Skolt Sami: luõss

Slovincian: lʉ̀ɵsɵs


---> Kildin Sami: лӯсс (lūss)

Irish: liús ("pike", "esox")


Old Saxon: lahs

Old High German: lahs

Middle High German: lahs

Middle Dutch: lachs

German: Lachs

German Low German: Lachs

Saterland Frisian: Lachs


Ossetian: лӕсӕг (læsæg)

Albanian: leshterik ("eel-grass")

Old English: leax

Tocharian A: läks (leks) ("fish")

Article published on the 30th of October 2018. Updated on 7th of October 2021.