Jester Names: Lubok Characters Farnos, Gonos and Yeralash

2023. № 3, 55-67

Alexandra A. Pletneva, Vinogradov Russian Language Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Russia, Moscow),


Some lubok prints (cheap popular prints) of an entertaining nature feature characters with strange names. These names are neither variations based on Christian names, nor nicknames with a clear internal form. This article discusses a possible origin of the names Farnos, Gonos and Yeralash, their functioning in lubok prints and other texts. The name of the jester Farnos (Rus. Фарнос) is associated with the name of the commedia dell'arte character Gian Farina. The latter was known in Russia, in particular, thanks to the etchings by Jacques Callot. The widespread use of lubok prints with the image of Farnos led to this name becoming an appellative. The word фарнос /farnos/ is defi ned in the dictionary by Vladimir Dal as ‘an arrogant person, a proudling’. Another jester, Gonos (Rus. Гонос), probably does not have a foreign prototype. His name correlates with the words гоносúться /gono`sit’sya/ (‘to boast, to show arrogance, to flaunt’) and гонóсный /go`nosnyj/ (‘proud, haughty’) presented in the Dictionary of Russian Folk Dialects. The name Yeralash (Rus. Ералаш) originates from the identical appellative. This word of Turkic origin was recorded in the 18th century and means ‘mess, nonsense’. In all the texts involving these buffoon characters, the functioning of the name is determined by a rhyme. Farnos and Gonos rhyme with the word нос /nos/ (‘nose’), the name Yeralash rhymes with the word наш /nash/ (‘our, ‘ours’). Phonetic consonance and false etymologization provide extensive material for language game and jokes.

For citation:

Pletneva A. A. Jester Names: Lubok Characters Farnos, Gonos and Yeralash. Russian Speech = Russkaya Rech’. 2023. No. 3. Pp. 55–67.